Today's score: bad news-9. Good news-1.
Here’s a sampling of today’s headlines:
A journey through Morocco’s vanishing oases
Stretch of North Cascades Highway closed after mudslide
China Is Writing the Story of the Climate Future
One way in, out: Bolt Creek fire resurfaces choice not to rebuild highway
How a Pacific typhoon could help extinguish California wildfires
Rain dissipates smoke east of the Cascades as fires burn in Idaho
Can you live a stylish and eco-conscious life? Remodelistas say yes.
The Elusive Future of San Francisco’s Fog
Mosquito Fire Becomes California’s Largest of Year
Billionaire no more: Patagonia founder gives away the company
Nine bylines of bad news, then I see something that gladdens my smoky mood. A genial old man, eyes squinting under bristled brows, mouth turning friendly at the corners. Plaid shirt. Hairline receding, veined hands, thumbs tucked into blue jeans. The founder of the $3 billion Patagonia company just gave—did I read that right?—the business and its $100 million yearly profits to combat climate change.
I’ve long loved Patagonia not only because their gear is well made and lasts, but I can return a jacket I haven’t worn lately and use that money towards my husband‘s birthday gift, a smart cobalt sweater of recycled wool. Patagonia takes my old jacket, cleans it, replaces a sticky zipper and sells it under their Worn Wear brand. It’s a philosophical choice as well as practical, going to a little extra trouble to cut down on consumption. But really, it’s practical business-wise too because they keep customers coming back into the store and spending a little more than they were credited for the return. Patagonia was the first store I visited when the pandemic eased up.
“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” Yvon Chouinard, the climate-conscious owner, said in the New York Times. “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.” I read that he and his family had long committed to running a socially and environmentally responsible business and giving away its profits. They didn’t take a tax break either. The family will pay more than $17 million in taxes on the gift.
In recent weeks I’ve been processing (reading and writing about) the horrifying climate news in books like The Uninhabitable Earth, by another NYT writer, David Wallace-Wells. And “The Carbon Almanac,” edited by Seth Godin and the work of hundreds of volunteers from 90 countries: researchers, scientists, writers, artists and others, focused on carbon’s impact on our one vital planet.
Then I woke up to this one bright shimmer of hope, this company doing well by doing good.
A little bit of hope amid a lot of despair. Can I reconcile these contradictory feelings? I’m sure you’ve read what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
© 2022 Su Cummings. All rights reserved.
Photo credit: Natalie Behring for The New York Times. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.