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What Climate Change Means for Our Money Choices

By Sarah Carlson, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC®

When two women, a Spokane financial advisor with a successful career in money management and a lifelong climate-conscious advocate turned scientist, converse, you might think the conversation would turn into the debate of money vs. nature. That is not the case, as both women find common ground in how deeply they care about the long-term health of our economy and planet.

Turn on most news outlets, and you will be bombarded by news stories on climate change and resulting natural disasters. Most viewers feel helpless in having a personal impact on these changes. But what about creating solutions by creating a dialogue across sectors and demographics? Sarah and Jackie believe, together we can take steps, through small, but deliberate actions towards a healthier future.

Now is the time to align your money choices with climate-conscious choices. It all starts with one decision towards action, and each of us makes decisions daily that can start towards this change.

Scientists, other related experts, and concerned citizens have been ringing the warning bells for decades about the perils of what climate change can do. Still, the unmistakable proof of global warming is now playing out in real-time.

Recent surveys show that more than 80% of Americans are willing to change their behavior concerning climate disruption, but most don't know what they can do to be part of the solution. Younger generations are suffering mild to severe anxiety and depression due to feeling helpless about the global warming rate. Many of our youth today have resentment towards their parents and grandparents for ignoring the necessity for action.

What climate change means is for us to make conscious decisions

What is the Base of Climate Disruption? 

Global warming is a significant contributor. Global warming is a straightforward scientific concept that is well understood. Specific molecules in our atmosphere interact with heat to keep the planet warm enough for life as we know it to proliferate. Adding too many of these molecules increases this heat and leads to imbalances that ripple through the entire planetary ensemble. Releasing and burning coal, oil, and natural gas are tipping this natural balance of carbon-based molecules and warming our planet.

Humanity has come to rely on fossil-fuel to be a significant energy source to drive our economy.  However, and importantly, energy advancements have been remarkable, and alternative ways to use energy will profoundly affect the future of the planet. How fast will our earth continue to heat up or can our efforts mitigate this? Now is the time to build both traditional knowledge and the innovation of today and tomorrow. 

What climate change can do is to help us better understand our world

Is Climate Change Worth Making Adjustments?

It can be done, but let's start with making choices that align with our lifestyles, values, and a livable future. Our choices of consumption drive demand for how and what is produced.

As a young person embarking on a career, lean into education that includes training around sustainable opportunities. All companies will be looking to hire employees with knowledge and experience in climate solutions and deployment. Not only will being prepared for sustainable jobs bolster your career, but it will also help shape the lifestyles of everyone around you - including your parents and grandparents. Regardless of your economic standing, gaining knowledge surrounding global warming will elevate decision making affecting decisions such as:

  • Health
  • Unnecessary spending
  • Longer-term planning.

Whether in a job or as a stay-at-home mother, women generally make most household purchasing decisions, from grocery shopping to major lifestyle decisions - like buying a home and taking vacations. With an eye on transitioning from fossil fuels and supporting a stable climate future, these decisions lay a path towards sustainability. It's important to value quality over quantity, reducing waste over immediate gratification, and thoughtfully saving over needlessly spending.

Consider building habits of constructive and thoughtful spending. What are some examples? Organic food sustainably grown over processed junk food and reusable products over disposable items should be the norm. It is remembering that reducing waste leads to more stability for the planet and your pocketbook. How much more plastic do you really need imported from China?  Get our point?

Big purchases can reflect climate consciousness by simply identifying how oil, gas, or coal connect to your choice. There are many questions for you to consider:

  • Would an electric vehicle fit my lifestyle?
  • Do I need a big house?
  • Could I live near my work (and walk or bike)?
  • Would going on a vacation without flying across the world be just as fun and fulfilling?


The bottom line is that your choices matter, and in order to start toward a more sustainable, earth friendly eco-system, it starts with a choice you will make today.

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Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss.