The earliest roots of the Blue Moon Fund can be traced back to 1944, when W. Alton Jones, a top executive at Cities Service Company, created a foundation bearing his name for the purpose of financing artistic and cultural ventures. In the early 1980s, this Jones Foundation shifted its funding priorities toward supporting the nuclear freeze movement, a Soviet-sponsored initiative that would have frozen the USSR’s nuclear and conventional military superiority in place. A decade later the Foundation hired zoologist John Myers, who had previously worked for the National Audubon Society, to be its director, and thenceforth began to earmark much of its philanthropy for organizations committed to the anti-capitalist agendas of radical environmentalism.
In 2001, when various Jones family members were in disagreement about what their specific funding priorities should be, the W. Alton Jones Foundation was dissolved and then restructured as three separate entities: the Oak Hill Fund, the Edgerton Fund, and the Blue Moon Fund (BMF). The latter of these was co-founded in April 2002 by Patricia Jones Edgerton and Diane Edgerton Miller (the daughter and granddaughter, respectively, of W. Alton Jones).
Devoted to “increasing human and natural resilience in a changing and warming world,” BMF’s top philanthropic priority is to “protect landscapes and livelihoods” threatened by the allegedly undeniable “reality” of “global climate change” and “the carbon economy” that exacerbates it. “[R]ising average temperatures and associated changes in weather patterns,” warns BMF, “have initiated landscape and habitat transformations that will continue more quickly than many species have the capacity to adapt.”
Moreover, the Blue Moon Fund maintains that rising levels of “global commerce” and “economic activity” lead inevitably to “well-established negative side-effects such as resource degradation, greenhouse gas pollution, and marginalization of communities.” Notwithstanding such warnings about the dangers inherent in industry and market economies, BMF supports efforts to “harnes[s]” the free market’s capacity for “wealth generation, technological innovation, and entrepreneurial action” in ways that might benefit “the conservation world.” For example, the Fund backs organizations that promote “green technologies” (reliant on solar and wind power rather than fossil fuels) as a means of averting “the impending climate and biodiversity crises.”
Among the many recipients of BMF philanthropy are the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Friends Service Committee, Brookings Institute, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Citizen Action, the Earth Island Institute, the EarthJustice Legal Defense Fund; Ecotrust, the Energy Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Media Services, the Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Planned Parenthood, Public Citizen, the Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Alliance, the Sierra Club, the Tides Foundation and the Tides Center, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Worldwatch, the World Resources Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund.
To view a list of additional noteworthy BMF grantees, click here.
Geographically, BMF targets its grants toward projects affecting “climate change refugia”—which it defines as “unique places” with significant “landscape diversity within relatively small areas”—in Asia, North America, Mesoamerica, and the western Amazon rainforest. “The proximity of many different microclimates within a short distance,” says BMF, “usually along altitudinal gradients, means that a broad range of plant and animal species may be able to migrate to more suitable habitat even within the relatively rapid timeframes of global climate change. Weathering the storm of global climate change in these refugia, species can then repopulate habitable areas made available in a more stable future.”
BMF exhorts corporations of all sizes and all industries to combat climate change by purchasing carbon offsets, whereby they aim to minimize the size of their own respective “carbon footprints” by investing money in projects—often in some other part of the world—that center around activities like tree-planting, energy efficiency upgrades, or the construction of wind farms and solar panels. In theory, these projects “offset” to some degree the environmental impact of a business’s polluting activities. BMF, for its part, purchases carbon offsets to neutralize the effects of the carbon emissions associated with its own employees’ business-related travel.
BMF co-founder Diane Edgerton Miller serves as the Fund’s president and CEO today. The other co-founder, Patricia Jones Edgerton, died in 2010.
A noteworthy BMF Fellow is World Wildlife Fund chairman Bruce Babbitt, who served as Governor of Arizona from 1978-87 and as Secretary of the Interior during the Bill Clinton administration (1993-2001). Babbit is also a former president of the League of Conservation Voters.