Climate change and long term investing?

I’m guessing the inclusion of climate change in the topic performs the work of a warning sufficiently, but this discussion may be upsetting.

This question has weighed on me since I first started taking my finances seriously last summer before I found OMD. I initially made a Facebook post and got a lot of mansplainy advice and links to wealth building articles that didn’t answer my question. I don’t think I’ve asked it here, but apologies if my quick forum search overlooked something.

Am I right to be concerned about the viability of long term investing given the specter of climate change and how little we seem to be doing about it? I mostly buy into the idea that you should put money into low fee index funds, not take it out in times of crisis, and move it into more conservative holdings as you approach retirement. But that is based on the idea that stonks overall will keep going up. The few times I’ve seen my question or something similar raised, it’s dismissed in a manner that drives me BONKERS. Basically, “what makes you feel like this moment is so special? People think every crash is the end of stonks, and the ones who hold on and keep believing always come out winners in the end.” That to me sounds suspiciously like people who talk about climate change like “every generation thinks the threat they face is the end of the world, but the world never ends, people just need to feel like their generation is special.”

Does anyone have recommendations for readings in economics, especially as it impacts personal finance, that take climate change seriously? I figure you are a better group to ask about this than my Facebok friends! I am good at reading (literature PhD quitter), but my literacy in economics is pretty basic. Still, would prefer a hard but good article to something oversimplified and pandering. Also, if anyone just has thoughts on the topic, I’d welcome those too! Is there something more to be said than at some point we may be so screwed we won’t care about our IRAs?

  • Note that I’m not really asking about ethical investing – I think that has been covered elsewhere here/on the podcast. My very limited exposure takeaway is that a) it’s REALLY hard to make sure your money isn’t supporting something you don’t want to support one way or another, and b) there’s often a lot more fees attached to ethical investing platforms.

Curious to see what others say.

I think it’s really hard to say at what timescale the current form of capitalism might start to break down. I personally think climate change/greenhouse gas emissions gets a bit too much emphasis versus various resources running out, land degradation, etc that altogether with climate change could collectively be summed up as “economies can’t grow forever without overrunning ecological carrying capacity”.

We definitely still invest some but are (for example) currently putting more emphasis on improving and paying off our house. I also grow a decent amount of our own food but the economics of moving out of the city to be more self-sufficient just don’t work in my area. We’d either have to buy a house 3-4x our current one and thus be tied down with more debt (so not really self-sufficient!) or relocate 70+minutes away from wife’s current job, my family, etc and we’d rather not do that.


Doughnut Economics has been recommended by @LadyDuck, I think it fits here.

For just general basic macro-economic stuff like public debt, monetary supply, etc “Economics Explained” by Heilbroner is pretty good.

I could recommend some alternative agriculture stuff if you’re interested, that’s really my area of interest. Where it would interface with investing is more the question of how do we feed the world in a more sustainable way, particularly in post peak-oil circumstances.


Doughnut Economics looks like it might be the right sort of thing. Thanks for the suggestion!


Popping in here, I often have similar questions and find that all the online discussions I can find are not so much discussions as diatribes (either like what cannibalsox mentioned or the opposite).

Thanks for resources, rabbitarian, and interested to hear from others too!


Group of grad school alumni and I are buying land that used to be permafrost. From what we see, 20-30 years, that’s going to be the only farmable land left.

If not, at least I’ll have 100s of acres of biting flies to visit in my old age.


I wish I had something to contribute, but I think this is a really important question that’s been nebulously floating in my mind, and you articulated it really well.


20-30 years is not the timescale we need to be concerned about IMO…it’s more like 200-300 years.