Can we change the world for the better?
Our future is looking increasingly uncertain – the environment and our economy are both under huge pressure. And while there are heated debates about whom or what is contributing most to that pressure, we can all agree on two things:
- Pollution is a ‘bad thing’. We are polluting our environment, poisoning the air we breathe and the land and seas that provide our food. We’re slowly poisoning ourselves and our children
- Waste is a ‘bad thing’. We’re wasting limited resources at a terrifying rate, creating shortages. Prices will inevitably rise and our future will become more volatile and frightening
There are many ways to live a less polluting and wasteful lifestyle and there are many great people and publishers that promote those lifestyles.
But you need to follow the money…
In reality, it is financial markets that drive most of the world’s activity. For every single dollar, euro, pound or yen traded in the real world economy on real goods and services, 26 (that’s twenty-six) are traded in shares, commodities, derivatives and currency. For every pound spent on low energy light bulbs, £26 is traded on currency, derivative or stock markets. It’s what we invest in that shapes our economy, which then creates the pollution and waste.
What very few invest in, will shape everyone’s future
Blue & Green Tomorrow follows the money and asks tough questions of private and institutional investors about the future they are investing in.
If we can encourage more people and institutions to invest in companies that are sustainable and then buy more from those same companies, we can harness the considerable power of financial markets to make the world a better place.
We want to tell you about the people and organisations that are doing amazing things in science, technology, construction, business, agriculture, forestry, social enterprise, charity and finance; the ones who are reducing pollution and waste in all their forms; the ones who are building a better tomorrow and represent the most exciting opportunities for investment today.
We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday.
Can you change the world for the better? There is no plan(et) B.
How it will work
We write about the people and organisations that are making a difference every single day.
At Blue & Green Tomorrow, we believe in great long-form journalism. Journalism that is evidence-based, impartial, optimistic and responsible. But, great journalism costs and advertisers often want to pay for favourable or ‘bad’ journalism.
Corporate and government press releases aren’t journalism.
That’s why we need your help.
Each month we want to produce an in-depth report on one aspect of sustainability.
Where you come in
Planned reports for the remainder of 2012 will cover:
- Sustainable banking
- Sustainable investment: Part 2
- Ethical retail
- Responsible media – post-Leveson
We want this to be about our readers rather than advertiser or corporate interests, so if you can help us by pledging as little as £10, we can do this together.
What the money pays for
It pays for the reports - our researchers, writers, sub-editing and designers. Most importantly though, it pays for distribution to the widest possible audience possible. If we can get the reports into the hands of political and business decision-makers as well as the wealthiest investors we might just get them to make some better decisions about what they invest in. Critically we aren't preaching to the converted but hitting those who might even be sceptical about climate change and its causes.
Who are we?
Blue & Green Tomorrow is run by ex-media (Northcliffe Newspapers, Daily Telegraph, Auto Trader and Emap) and financial services (Abbey, Barclays, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity) chap, Simon Leadbetter. He founded the digital magazine Blue & Green Tomorrow to merge his media and financial services experience with the aim of promoting a step change in sustainable investment.
We are staffed by recent graduates providing experience for those with the fewest opportunities in the current economic climate – ably supported by talented and experienced journalists. Leading them is first class honours graduate and Blue & Green stalwart and Editor, Alex Blackburne. The 'all-I-want-to-be-is-a-sports-journalist' when he joined, soon became an expert and quoted writer on sustainable investment and clean energy.
Our award-winning (as judged by David McCandless of Information is Beautiful fame) and seriously-talented data journalist Ben Willers produces infographics that will blow your mind as pieces of information and artwork in their own right.
We can’t do this without your help.
With your support we can create the reports. With your support we can get the reports into the hands of investors and decision-makers. And maybe, just maybe change the world by convincing more wealthy and powerful people to invest and consume sustainably.
To help, you can pledge anything from the cost of coffees with friends to a £2,500 biggest fan level.
For as little as £10 you’ll help us and receive a limited edition infographic postcard from our award-winning infographic designer.
For just £250, you will join our editorial board guiding the direction of the title and helping us commission articles and decide the focus of our in-depth reports.
If you, a friend or family member or colleague could pledge even a little, we can make a difference and produce the independent evidence-based journalism that is sorely lacking in one of the most important debates of our time.
Our climate is changing and what we do today will echo down the generations tomorrow.
“Because we don't think about future generations, they will never forget us.”
Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”. We didn’t hit our ambitious crowdfunding target, but we underwrote the team until the end of the year and for that we are indebted.
Earlier this week, we described the genesis and evolution of Blue & Green Tomorrow. We also closed our Sponsume crowdfunding campaign, raising enough funds to allow the team to sleep in their beds knowing that they’ll be paid until Christmas, and to help the production and distribution of two more in-depth reports before this year’s out – The Guide to Ethical Shopping and The Guide to Responsible Media.
“People don’t have to like or support you, so you always have to say thank you”
To everyone who supported us, we want to say thank you. We are preparing your rewards, which will be with you by Christmas.
To the 41,000 unique visitors and our 12,000 regular readers, we want to say thank you. Keep reading and if you want to contribute, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
To the early adopter band of superb IFAs, Good Energy, Ethical Superstore, Original Travel, Charity Bank, Reliance Bank, Triodos Bank, Virgin Climate Change Fund and Quadris Environmental Forestry Fund who have supported us since we started, we want to say thank you.
To the various people who have worked under the umbrella of B> David, Lori, Dominic, Angus, Charlotte, Rob, Alex, Rich, Jess, Emily, plus many, many more, we want to say thank you.
The next chapter: 2013
2013 is going to be an interesting year if we survive the end of the Mayan long count calendar on December 21. We will, by the way. It’s superstitious hokum, described by one leading academic as, “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in”.
In January, we will see the inauguration of the next US president. There will also be an international academic conference in June to celebrate 200 years of peace between the US, Canada and Great Britain.
In January, Israel elects a new parliament and Iran elects a president in June, which could affect us all and be one of the first big international headaches for the new US president.
China’s new leadership will be settling into the start of their 10-year rule, while attempting its first unmanned Moon landing. India will launch its Mars probe.
It’s the UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation, which seems apposite if you consider the words of Ismail Serageldin, former vice president of the World Bank, in 1999, “If the wars of this [20th] century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be about water.”
Amidst all this, Blue & Green Tomorrow will be here to report on how sustainable investment has the potential to create a better world and unsustainable investment risks wrecking it.
Just as the first words went to Churchill, so do our last, “Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”
Blue & Green Tomorrow was two years in the making and today we’re two years old. The simple idea was to write about the connection between investment and the world we live in - without jargon. With our crowdfunding campaign ending at midnight tonight Simon Leadbetter looks back at the four-year ebb and flow of a fledgling publication.
Remember, remember the fifth of November
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts
“To lose one editor is unfortunate, to lose two, careless”
Onwards & upwards
With six days to go until our Sponsume campaign ends, we’re exploring tenuous numerical links to the number of days left. This one isn’t overly tenuous, as there are six core ‘untouchables’ in the ethical investment universe. Simon Leadbetter explores the sordid, slaughtering end of investment.
Alcohol kills an awful lot of people
Smoking kills an awful lot more people
Freedom and choice or brainwashing and exploitation
Heads the gambling industry wins, tails you lose
Sex sells, so sell sex
Profits of war
Nuclear power is an explosive issue
All’s well that ends well
Our Sponsume campaign ends. In the final countdown to the campaign deadline on Bonfire night and our two-year anniversary, Simon Leadbetter explores a relevant theme. Today, it’s lucky number seven.
We’re five reports into our ‘Guide to…’ series, which began with the inaugural Guide to Sustainable Investment back in April and continued most recently with a report published to coincide with National Ethical Investment Week.
We’ve got two more coming up in 2012 – The Guide to Ethical Shopping and The Guide to Responsible Media – but here’s a round-up of all the reports we’ve published so far – all of which you can download for absolutely free. These reports are what the money we raise through Sponsume will pay for.
April 2012 – The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2012
The Guide to Sustainable Investment endeavours to take you on a journey of discovery—embarking at ethical origins, travelling through the green and growing fields of sustainable and socially responsible investment and disembarking at a new, enlightened destination.
Standing there, surveying the future with a fresh perspective, it is our hope that you will feel able to make better-informed decisions about where and how your money is invested so that you can proudly say, “I played my part—I balanced the needs of the planet, its people and prosperity. I succeeded”.
Take time to read and digest the wise words of Mike Scott, Penny Shepherd, Sarah Pennells and a host of others; realise that you are not alone and then, better still, realise there are people who have devoted their working lives to help you understand and change the impact of your money on the future.
May 2012 – The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2012
The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2012 aims to open your eyes to a new way of experiencing the many wonders of the world. What we hope you will ask yourself after reading it is: how can I reduce my impact and ensure my holiday actually benefits others?
It is totally unacceptable that the time we enjoy so much should be to the detriment of the environment and the people in the places we visit. And we believe that most of us would not enjoy our holiday if we realised that was the case.
Sustainable tourism is on the right pathway to becoming the only kind of tourism. It is starting to feature in the mainstream media and we feel confident that the excellent work being done by so many in the industry will continue to ripple outwards.
July 2012 – The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2012
Inside our Guide to Limitless Clean Energy, you’ll find everything you need to know about one of the world’s most stimulating and fastest-growing industries, directly from the mouths of some of its leading lights.
We cover the whole landscape: the (former) minister, the supplier, the developer, the investor, the trade body, and of course, the customer. All of which ought to inspire you to make the switch to, invest in or simply support the renewable energy sector.
The reaction that we hope radiates out of our Guide to Limitless Clean Energy is one of amazement and wonder, through the incredible stories of some incredible people and companies. Before long, an increased adoption of renewable energy will seem obvious, necessary and exciting.
Read our guide and be inspired to make a difference.
October 2012 – The Guide to Sustainable Banking 2012
The Guide to Sustainable Banking is a rundown of the best, ethical, sustainable and responsible banking options in the UK, containing inspirational interviews with the leaders of the biggest names in this vibrant sector.
Scandal after scandal in the mainstream banking world is, quite simply, not good enough. We have set out to present you with just a few of the better choices for your savings and day-to-day banking. With the five major banking groups controlling 85% of personal current accounts in the UK, there has to be an alternative.
We are genuinely confident that if presented with a sensible, balanced argument for the sustainable banking options – which the interviewees in our Guide deliver eloquently and powerfully – people will do the right thing and move away from those banks that have done so much harm to our society and planet.
So we really hope you enjoy our Guide. Who you bank with probably seems like a minor decision, but it might be one of the most game-changing things you’ve ever done.
October 2012 – The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2012 (NEIW edition)
The second Guide to Sustainable Investment was written and published especially to coincide with National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) 2012.
Now into its fifth year, the event serves as a focal point for proponents of this enlightened investment sector, and we’re genuinely delighted to have had a chance to do our bit in making a difference.
We managed to secure some of the sustainable investment sector’s biggest names, including James Gifford, Penny Shepherd and Raj Thamotheram, and it’s their inspirational words that we hope will encourage you to invest sustainably.
We urge you to open your mind and join the sustainable investment movement early. It’s a journey of discovery with infinite tickets available; but the best seats, as always, are at the front.
Arctic summer ice cover reaches its lowest extent since records began. Antarctic land ice is being lost and those losses are accelerating. Forest cover has fallen from over half of the world’s land to under a third. Four-fifths of global fisheries are fully to over-exploited, depleted or in a state of collapse.
Our planet and life on it is evolving, complex and interconnected.
Everything really is connected in ways we can barely imagine. The natural feedback systems above are signalling that something is profoundly wrong with our climate specifically and our environment more generally.
If ice caps melt, more of the sun’s heat is absorbed into dark oceans, accelerating global warming. If forests are cut down or burnt, whole species face extinction, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and less of this dangerous greenhouse gas is captured, accelerating global warming. Declaring war on sea life with industrial scale fishing and massive waste dumping has led to a collapse in fish stocks and a toxic poisoning of what remains.
Regardless of your views about human caused (anthropogenic) climate change, let’s not forget the billions of tonnes of harmful particulates our fossil-fuelled and energy intensive industries and transportation systems pump into the air, poisoning the air we breathe. That means more cancer, more heart disease, more skin conditions and more asthma, and the effects are always worse for young children and the old.
Everything is connected
For every dollar that changes hands in the real world of goods and services, $26 is traded financially. Currencies, commodities, debt, equities and derivatives are gambled at a dizzying and accelerating pace, often regardless of their real world outcomes for societies and the environment.
And there is always real world outcome. Currency speculation leads to economies collapsing and investment going overseas. Commodity speculation means people starve and prices become volatile. Debt speculation means households, companies and countries can’t meet their bills and fail. And equity speculation means activities that harm people and the planet but deliver good returns receive investment that could otherwise be channelled into less harmful activities.
Burning dead animals (fossil fuels) is not the answer
As Jeremy Leggett set out in this magazine, “Investors continue to pile into carbon fuels because we allow companies to account coal, oil and gas as assets at zero risk of impairment today.”
Companies that mine or burn fossil fuels or use the energy that they create give the costs of their pollution to the taxpayer. They privatise the benefit for a small group of shareholders in the form of profits and nationalise the increasing harm from cancer, heart disease and asthma. In addition, they often have less than spotless records on human rights or environmental protection as profit trumps all other considerations.
Make your money make a difference
Your annuity, pension, ISA, savings account, bond and shareholding, however small or large, is either part of the problem or part of the solution. Without a baseline of investment from these products into companies, there is little for the City to gamble with.
Everything is connected. We can either individually and collectively create a sustainable future by investing in companies that minimise their negative impact on society and the environment or we can choose not to.
Blue & Green Tomorrow is crowdfunding the production and distribution of three reports to persuade 100,000 investors to invest and consume more sustainably. Please invest in us if you can.
Readers of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2 to the aficionados) will know the significance of 42. When the super computer Deep Thought is asked what the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is, it answers after 7.5m years, ‘42’. Deep Thought’s creators sheepishly realise that they don’t know the question.
Today, 42 comes into sharp focus for Blue & Green Tomorrow. That is how many days we have left to reach our ambitious fundraising target. Over the weekend we published where that money will go and we now have 42 days to get there. Forty-two days or six weeks if you prefer to think in weeks. That means we have 1,008 hours, 60,480 minutes, or just over 3.6m seconds to raise £24,000. Less by the time you’re reading this. That’s £570 per day or more by the time you’re reading this. In the words of the eponymous H2G2, “Don’t panic!”
At Blue & Green Tomorrow, we’re indebted to Douglas Adams for writing H2G2, in which he describes Earth as “an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet.” That’s where the magazine’s title comes from. It’s also why we’ve never been fans of the land-centric ‘green’ movement on our predominantly blue planet.
Insignificant? Splutters of indignation
In 1990, Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn the spacecraft Voyager 1 around to take a photograph of Earth from a record distance of 6 billion km (3.7 billion miles). Earth was seen as a tiny dot against the vastness of space. In Sagan’s book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, he related his thoughts on a deeper meaning of the photograph:
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilisation, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
We couldn’t put it better ourselves. Nor would we even try.
Everything we love, everything we own, consume and invest in, is on that pale blue dot. Small isn’t it.
“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
Unless we radically adjust our behaviour and question the sustainability of our every action, we are going to leave that pale blue dot in a very sorry state for future generations.
Help us change the debate at http://www.sponsume.com/project/blue-green-tomorrow
There really is no plan(et) B.
£25,000. It seems quite a lot of money. And it is a lot of money, by most people’s standards. Why are we looking for this amount of cash?
One of the challenges for the sustainable investment sector is the risk it ends up preaching to the already converted, which doesn’t really make the difference to the investment landscape that we need.
Sustainable investors know they should be investing in a way that balances the needs of the planet, its people and personal profit.
Investors can do it because of ethical concerns. Some investors believe that it is the socially responsible thing to do. Some investors have a desire to make a positive impact or avoid making a negative one. Other investors simply invest sustainably because they recognise a damn good investment opportunity when they see one and want to get in early – as with cleantech and renewables.
Over 8,000 of these admirable investors read us already. And we are grateful to each and everyone. But there lies the problem. If we’re preaching to the converted, we’re participating in a type of confirmation bias, albeit a positive one, where people seek out evidence that supports their worldview.
We’ve written about filter bubbles before and it’s already a major factor in climate change scepticism. Once you’ve started reading only those who agree with you, and then cherry-pick the evidence that supports your prejudice, you’re probably not getting an accurate picture of the evidence.
We need to reach well beyond the converted to make the difference to investment that we need. By methodically and reasonably setting out the case for sustainable behaviour, we may effect some change, but only if that message is read by those who have not yet started on that particular lifestyle.
If we just reach one person with a portfolio of £1m and encourage them to move it to more sustainable options, £25,000 will have a made a big return on investment.
And reaching people costs money. Those who know me know that, for my sins, I’m a marketer. We want to create three reports that will be read and reach enough people will cost £25,000.
We could advertise in the newspapers and magazines read by investors. Or, as it is 2012, we could distribute the Guides widely online and, more importantly, email the unconverted a well-written, fair, optimistic and responsible analysis of the issue. Full of facts and simple steps that set out our case clearly, without lecturing or preaching. Giving this to them for free, with no strings attached, means they may just give us the time and read what we have to say.
We work with some of the best opt-in data providers in the UK as no one likes a spammer. But increasingly desperate times need more desperate measures. As the Arctic melt has so clearly shown, these are desperate times. Adopting a ‘build it and they will come’ approach may have worked for Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, but they may arrive too late for us and our blue-green planet.
Everyday we see more evidence that sustainable funds are not being promoted. This seems to be due to concerns about investor appetite, which own research shows to be massively under-served. The second concern is that by badging some funds as sustainable, it by default makes the other funds look unsustainable. If they want to keep the funds quiet, we want to tell the world about them.
The last few times we have used this approach, over 30% of those we sent the emails to read them. More than 10% of those clicked through. That might not seem like a lot of people, but that meant 3,000 people with more than £500m to invest read about sustainable investment, 3,000 travellers read about sustainable tourism and 3,000 households looked at clean and limitless energy options.
This time we also want to target politicians, charities (who should know better) and local communities. We need a major step change in sustainable investment and consumption. We can do this with your help.
We have access to the data and we need your help to build the right product and right message and send that message to the right people.