Paying Nature

Bank of Nature is a design initiative
to create a two-way human-nature partnership.
Why?

To define endgame sustainability, build climate security
and cultivate human and non-human dignity

At Bank of Nature, we challenge conventional thinking.

We ask different questions to find new answers.

We’re building a safer alternative path around the traditional barriers that, so far, stymie climate security and solutions to other planet-scale challenges, like the loss of human agency. We call that endgame sustainability.

For example, why don’t we pay nature rent for living here? We are a society because of it.

And, why is an extractive society that extinguishes nature the only way forward? We are crashing into planet-scale limits.

Why is climate insecurity our chosen narrative — the one we hand to future generations?

Or, the acceptance of social inequality?

Bank of Nature is more than a metaphor to change the world. We’re a proxy for nature that works independently of government and industry to focus on one strategy: “We win only if nature wins more”.

With that, a host of problems start to unwind.

The tools, money and mission exist. Bank of Nature is additive, adaptive and structural at scale.

It’s radically reasonable.

Bank of Nature's big ideas

Borrowing comes
at a cost.
So does theft

Nature is a bank

Can nature be a bank? It’s the central question to our design initiative. We say, “Yes.” Nature, just like the corner bank that holds your car loan, is entitled to terms, interest, penalties and repayment for what our society has borrowed. But, to date, society, embodied by markets and government, has taken nature’s value without terms or repayment – robbing the environment of its ability to sustain us. Importantly, society is robbing from humanity, from ourselves, diminishing our human agency that exists as part of nature. Nature, through a legal and independent proxy, can be as hungry for returns as any investor in our society’s success. It can also repossess.

What strategy acknowledges our obligation to future generations?

Endgame sustainability

Modern sustainability, a practice steeped in terms of fear and sacrifice, lacks an endgame. Instead, it zeros in on greenhouse gas emissions, rather than a “whole planet” strategy that addresses the foundational aspects of the crisis, such as a society built on extract of natural and social capital to make wealth. When can we feel the climate is secure? Bank of Nature is bound to the idea of climate hope. When can 8 billion people experience an improved quality of life as part of an interactive partnership with nature. We want to anchor our initiatives to a destination: a future already made sustainable. By choosing a point of future success, we can engage in the big ideas we need today to realize that vision. A bank may be about your happy and healthy retirement, a future state in which you can enjoy your hard work. Climate hope is path toward the reward of security.

Earthlings investing
in ourselves

Humans are nature

A basic lesson of managing money is to “pay yourself first.” Humans, as biological entities sustained by a thin atmosphere, are not separate or distinct from nature. We are Earthlings. We are nature. Our future is bound to to the success, or failure, of the planet’s unique biogeochemical processes, currently under siege  by our society’s choices. Those choices compromise nature and like other species on an extinction watch list… us. At Bank of Nature, we want to use fiduciary money directly to bolster those geobiochemical processes in a new partnership that is interactive (two way) rather than extractive (one-way).

Social trusts as
planet-scale heroes

Fiduciaries for the future

Wealth creation today is driven by speculative capital markets, like Wall Street, where investors gamble on the future value of financial products and business sectors like fossil fuels or renewable energies. This value comes at the expense of the environment through the extraction of natural resources at a pace much faster than nature can regenerate. At Bank of Nature, we propose a fiduciary finance strategy, modeled on the existing fiduciary obligations of social trusts, like pensions and endowments. These institutions can provide leadership in the climate and social crises, financing stewardship initiatives that benefit their present and future members.

Synchronous,
seven-continent strategies

Thinking at scale

The climate crisis is a nature crisis and a global crisis, regardless of the geopolitical map that arbitrarily divides up national interests or markets. It extends beyond that borders, national interests, growth imperatives and shareholder value that impede a global response today. It lays bare the social crisis of human dignity made worse by the human-made environmental threat. As a financial portal dedicated to climate security, global human dignity and a future made sustainable, Bank of Nature works at planet-scale and with the global commons to execute remedies that have worldwide benefits regardless of borders or hemispheres or privilege. Run by Earthlings, Bank of Nature is using existing tools to engage in strategies that are far bigger than what we consider effective today.

Economy that accounts for nature

Sufficiency

Growth imperatives are the complicating factor for governments and markets that must satisfy economic and shareholder performance expectations. Those initiatives dedicated to wealth are extracted from nature — taking resources to apply to industry without a plan to restore the value lost to nature. Scarcity economies have yet to fully account for nature: externalities, environmental services, and the costs of society to nature. The real or imagined cost of planet-scale climate remedies threatens growth and value. Bank of Nature, positioned as a proxy for nature independent of traditional business and government, works with growth as a sufficiency metric. What is enough? Can we feed 10 billion future Earthlings when we struggle with 7.8 billion Earthlings today? It’s like driving an electric car charged with coal-sourced electricity. Growth that comes from extending nature, rather than depleting it, is sufficient.

Choosing the scope
of the correction

Sacrifice

There is a correction looming. Extreme climate, made worse by human society decision-making, is upon us with wildfires and hurricanes and famine-inducing droughts. We have social unrest and climate refugees and a deepening loss of human dignity. The status quo is not sustainable and we’ve known this for a century. The status quo, however, is profitable even more so with fear about climate. Like all bubbles, this will burst in ways meant to correct this imbalance.  Bank of Nature, the first proxy for nature, would provide a way to pay into a correction through the remittances equal to the negative externalities and execute on initiatives to choose the cost of the correction. The status quo, as it is configured without a proxy for nature, has chosen instead to let the correction happen without mitigating its fallout, the price of which will be more than just money. Sacrifice, at planet scale, is a choice we can make to intercede.

Disclosing the
divide in priorities

Conflicts of interest

Frustration about the minimal response to the scale of the environmental and social crises we face is directed at either government or business building value through markets. Both government and markets are guided by scarcity economics, which suggests value increases as resources decrease. Growth and value are either legal or policy imperatives as part of the aged status quo. Those imperatives are more important than initiatives like climate and social remedies that are a drag on performance and value. There is an internal conflict of interest with the key players entrusted with managing our global crises. Bank of Nature introduces an independent proxy for nature that operates with out the conflict and focusses directly on the problems.

Exposing today’s now
to future legal claims

A safer alternative path

Our commitment to long-termism is our commitment to making future generations, and their legal claims against us, relevant in today’s decision making. A safe alternative path is a choice made by this society today to opt for an alternative living strategy that does not undermine the viability of generations to come tomorrow. Evolving the law happens when we establish Bank of Nature, and other proxies for nature and future generations, as that safer alternative to speculation, market gambling and extraction of nature without a plan to extend nature.

Envisioning a thriving future

Make more nature

We have a choice. Stay on the “business as usual” path that diminishes nature and is untethered to climate and future planet-scale security. Or, make more nature through a proxy like Bank of Nature that is an interactive model with our source of wellbeing and is tied directly to a future already made sustainable. How would you “make more nature”?

Join our design initiative

We’re designing a safer alternative path through financial stewardship and away from financial speculation that compromises efforts to address the climate crisis.

The Small Print

Bank of Nature is not yet a bank and offers no banking services. It is a program of Cape Cod Center for Sustainability, a 501c3 nonprofit charity. 

Thank you to Arizona State University and its Center for Science and the Imagination for the fellowship support.

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