Or, Why Reinventing Money, Finance, and Economies is About Climate Change, Not Bitcoin
…so. What should money “be”? It should be based on natural capital, to use economic jargon. Imagine that we counted up the value of all the forests, oceans, rivers, trees, fish, animals. All of Mother Nature. In the whole world. Not right now — but in the world we want to achieve. A planet of thriving forests, schools of fish, living reefs, breathing skies. What’s it all worth? That’s our money supply. That is the size of the loan that we have to pay back.
I told you it would sound a little like science fiction. Let me make all that very, very concrete — or at least try to. Instead of a “gold standard” for money, money should have a “natural” standard. So let’s really imagine it. Let’s imagine that the planet now has a currency called “Earths.”
Imagine that you went in for your weekly, monthly, daily grocery shopping. Only instead of costing five dollars, euros, pounds, that hunk of meat costs you five Earths. Maybe that block of cheese costs twenty Earths. Perhaps detergent, paper towels, and toothpaste cost you fifteen Earths. Are you seeing what I mean a little bit? Now the idea that we are just borrowing all this stuff from Mother Nature should be much, much clearer — and that we eventually have to pay it back, too, or else everything implodes, the planet, civilization, democracy, and so on.
Now. How would this system actually work, to get technical? Well, remember what happens when your borrow money from a bank? It disappears. Let’s say you borrow 1,000 Earths. You use it up to invest in a little business. Your business goes well. You pay back the loan ahead of time. The bank now receives 1,100 Earths — the “debt” plus the “interest.” Poof! They disappear, right?
Wrong. In this system, there’s one feature, one catch, one innovation. The money you pay “back” to the bank doesn’t just disappear. It goes right back to the planet. That 1,100 Earths is then deposited by the bank in, let’s say, a Global Investment Fund, whose job it is to keep the forests, oceans, rivers, skies, animals, all in good and robust and vibrant health.
As soon as that deposit is made, the bank is free to “lend” all those Earths again. The money supply has now grown. We have returned what we borrowed from Mother Nature, with interest. The planet is healthier. We know that we are not taking on debts we cannot repay, as a species.
Our entire monetary and financial system as a globe has to change to reflect the simple truth that are only really just as a species borrowing from the planet — and if we don’t repay that debt, with interest, we will end broke, as a civilization: collapsing into authoritarian-fascism, as we grow ever poorer, running out of resources, at each others’ throats. MORE