“It worries me. It’s almost like I’m worried about the man,” Dalio told CNBC Make It.
Dalio, 72, stepped down as co-CEO of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates in 2017. Since then, the billionaire’s businesses have largely refocused on sharing knowledge with younger generations, ranging from the company to management software people Principles To OceanX, a New York-based non-profit ocean research and exploration organization that Dalio co-founded with his son Mark in 2018.
Over the past three years, says Dalio, he has realized that a lot of people still talk about climate change in a “theoretical sense.”
“A lot of people think 20 years from now is a long way off,” he says. But it is “not far”. he adds.
Focusing on the oceanic climate, says Dalio, he found that few people understand the massive amounts of carbon dioxide the ocean absorbs. According to researchers at the University of Exeter in England, around 25% of all CO2 emissions generated by human activity each year – around 900 million tonnes – are absorbed in the ocean, making it one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world.
Before the industrial age, the researchers wrote last year, the ocean actually released CO2 into the atmosphere. But now the added carbon can alter the chemistry of seawater, a process known as Ocean acidification – decreasing the pH level of the water and causing the shells and skeletons of the organisms to be dissolved, dramatically altering the ocean food chain.
This is just one consequence of climate change among many, says Dalio, referring to the recent rise in forest fires and severe storms. Climate change is “one of those things that slowly comes over us,” he says, suggesting the repercussions will become even more catastrophic down the road.
Many environmentalists agree.
On Sunday a new study published in the academic journal Science, extreme weather events are likely to intensify over the next few decades. The study predicted that children born in 2020 would experience heat waves, droughts, crop failures, forest fires and flooding at a rate two to seven times higher than those born in 1960.
And last month, in a report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a panel of climate experts has given humanity a ‘final wake-up call’ to curb global warming before it’s too late . The report highlighted the role that businesses, countries and individuals can each play in helping to curb the crisis.
“It’s almost as if man is like a disease on the planet,” says Dalio. “And this planet and nature have the ultimate power.”
According to a survey of Yale’s Climate Change Communication Program released on Monday, more and more Americans are concerned about climate change. The report says 70% of Americans are “very” or “somewhat worried” about global warming, an all-time high since the program began tracking data in March.
Dalio says businesses and individuals can use their money to positively influence the fight by investing more in environmental, social and governance – or ESG – areas.
Last year, Dalio’s Bridgewater began advising clients on eco-friendly investing and plans announced to open two sustainable funds in 2021.
“Fortunately, I think it becomes bad or uncool or nasty to harm the environment, and it becomes cool and appropriate or polite to do things like ESG investing,” said Dalio.
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