Search
  • Daniel Honan

THE GRAPES OF WRATH GROW HEAVY: WHY CONTEMPORARY NOTIONS OF SUSTAINABILITY ARE UNSUSTAINABLE

Updated: Sep 21


“The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them.”

– Paul Hawken.



Whenever a word loses its meaning, a marketer gets their wings.


‘Sustainability’ may be the most misused word in the English language. It is a word that many modern day agriculturalists, primary producers, and their various representative groups, organisations, and associations – especially within the world of wine – love to use.


The majority of people that use the word ‘sustainable’ don’t understand what the word means. Often, the word ‘sustainable’ is used by producers – and more often than them, marketers – who think that, by using the term, it enables them to morally differentiate their product by giving them a quick and instant coat of green-wash. Perhaps, but it’s a light coat – a superficial spray of verdant that easily washes off by even the most slightly informed line of enquiry as to what ‘sustainable’ actually means. This is especially true whenever such advocates for sustainability are asked exactly how the concept of ‘sustainability’ is applied, in practice, to the production of their specifically described sustainably labelled product.


I contest that all current concepts of sustainability are fundamentally unsustainable.


From the popular Lodi Rules in California, and Sustainable Winegrowers New Zealand (SWNZ), to Ent-Wine; Freshcare; Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, or whatever the name of the laggard program that purports sustainability in the Australian wine industry currently is. Each and every one of these programs is fundamentally unsustainable. Which is not to say that these programs are without merit, that they are not well-intentioned, well-meaning, or, indeed, possess the innate ability to continue to operate in an ongoing, perpetual, or sustained manner. Certainly, such programs are sustainable in the same way that clocks and calendars are sustainable, or that landfill is sustainable, or how books, glassware, football teams, and even the seemingly infinite set of ideas that are applied to promote sustainability are, themselves, inherently sustainable; which is to say that they are continuous, ongoing and persistent in their existence. Sustainability, as the term is currently applied, freely and greenly – especially to agriculture – is, however, principally, intrinsically, and substantially unsustainable.


Using less water, turning off your lights, your computer, your printer, even the air-conditioner in your John Deere ZR-210 will not make you, all of a sudden, sustainable. The problem isn’t switching off or using less energy, per se (an impossible proposition, anyway; see Jervon’s paradox). And, as already mentioned, it has nothing to do with the existence of a certain certification program that one may or may not be a member of. Moreover, it isn’t your acknowledgment or (mis)understanding of a particular muddied definition of sustainability, either. Many, if not most are terrible, by the way.


Importantly – and, perhaps disappointingly – the problem of sustainability does not relate to your own concerted efforts around a reduction or reliance on synthetic agro-chemicals used to manage your farm. In fact, it barely has anything to do at all with the particular way in which you choose to manage your land; whether that be using conventional ‘high farming’ (characterised by a central focus on synthetic agro-chemical inputs), organic, biodynamic, or the increasingly popular regenerative modes of farming. Indeed, not a single one of these aims, aspirations, targets, or methods matter because – at the root of it all – the economic operating system that our world, and, thus, you and I and each of these modes of farming currently runs on is defective and corrupt. Which is to say – explicitly – that the money is broken.


While ever the money is broken, true sustainability, as we think we understand it, is impossible to achieve – that is, it is unsustainable.


Money is the cornerstone of civilisation. When money is corrupt civilisations are soon corrupted. Just as glyphosate runs downhill into the nearest water course, a civilisation’s culture runs downhill from the money. The type of money we use to exchange and trade goods and services with one another – i.e. the notes in your pocket or the digits on your screen – is malfunctioning, is unsustainable, and is no longer fit for purpose (if it ever was). This is a real problem hidden in plain sight; strangely hard to detect yet, nonetheless, true. And, once you see it, you cannot un-see it.


Historian, Yuval Noah Harari suggests money is a psychological construct; “an inter-subjective reality that exists solely in people’s shared imagination.”[1] This really only hints at half the story. In essence, money is a system of value that connects people across space and time, allowing them to trade products, goods, and services with one another in order to acquire the things they want. Today, the world’s economies run on unsustainable fiat money.


Fiat money is a form of currency often issued by government by authoritative sanction; decree, command, or order. This means that it and its subsequent value exists solely because someone – like a government – says that its value exists. Fiat is unsustainable money which is endorsed by nothing tangible whatsoever; not gold, not silver, not salt, not even the countless grains of sand on the beach. Fiat is a money which has a natural tendency to inflate, and any money that can have its supply cheaply and easily increased will rapidly destroy the wealth of those using it as a store of value. Take a look at the hyperinflationary events of Weimar Germany (1918-1933), or of present day Venezuela for good examples of this. The pliable digital currency of our modern age is an historical anomaly.


Fiat money is a drug, very similar to the synthetic fertilisers used to grow high yielding commercial crops, big, heady and fast across great swathes of land. Drugs can be useful in the short term, but absolutely destructive if abused over the long. Fiat money is a narcotic. It is abusive and destructive. Far too easy for too few to create, and thus far too easy to debase, degrade, and devalue.


Fiat money favours the short term over the long term. It is money by design which intentionally devalues and depreciates your time and energy – i.e. your work. It surreptitiously, indeed deceitfully, increases incentives concerning the prevalence of immoral and harmful actions that often result in unseen and unintended consequences. Consequences, which are typically written off as negative externalities. Such unsound and unsustainable money is deeply destructive, deleterious, and damaging to the ecological environment, and thus to humans and civilisation more generally.


I contend that contemporary notions of sustainability, which operate from within an inflationary economic system fostered by fiat money – a system predicated on infinite growth – does not, cannot, and will not align with the limitations set and imposed by a planet comprised of finite resources. The corruption and manipulation of money is by an order of magnitude the greatest contribution to environmental destruction the world has ever known.[2] Thus, while ever the primary producers of the world operate their business using unsound fiat money, all current concepts of sustainability are fundamentally unsustainable.


WHAT IS MONEY?


“Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”
– Henry Kissinger.

Money is the most marketable or saleable good in an economy. It is a technology for storing and moving value across space and time. Think of it as a token of time, or a battery for storing human energy. No one really wants money, per se. What they want is what the money enables them to do. Money enables humans to trade their time and energy for the things they prefer, need, or want. For instance, a bottle of wine and a nice meal, a holiday, or a team of labourers at vintage time, a new spray cart, or some scheduled servicing on the ZR-210. We work by trading our present time and energy for money with which we wish to spend on the things we want at some point in the future.


Money is the universal medium of exchange used by individuals to trade their time and energy with one another. When you work, you expend time and energy. That time and energy is measured, represented, in the money you earn. Therefore, money is signified time and energy. People work to earn money, using it to store their value over space and time, in order to trade it for the things they really need or want in the future. Ideally, the amount of money you earn correlates to the amount of value you provide to society – and, arguably, farmers create the most amount of value of anyone, given that they grow the food we need in order to survive – and yet…


Money has taken many forms over the years, from shells and beads to salt and cattle, and of course, silver and gold.[3] Such monetary media was naturally selected over time because it was sufficiently scarce within a given culture in order to give it value, and (most importantly) it required a certain amount of work (time and energy spent) in order to find it, extract it, and thus earn it. Historically, sound monetary metals, such as gold or silver were used as money, due to their relative scarcity, fungibility, portability, durability, divisibility, soundness; resistance to counterfeiting or forgery, and their proportionally scarce distribution throughout the earth. Today, we use highly saleable government issued paper, plastic, or, more frequently, digitised fiat. This is a money which is issued or ‘printed’ into existence under the instruction of a government by a nation’s central bank. Whenever new money is ‘printed’ or issued into an economy the correlative value of any existing monies in the economy drops, as the existing supply is diluted.


A simple analogy: There are 100 rookie Michael Jordan basketball cards in the world. If you discover the existence of a 101st card, then every one of the existing cards subsequently becomes less scarce and thus less valuable. This same dynamic is true with money. Every time an additional dollar is issued or printed into existence, the value stored in the total existing money supply gets diluted (that is, devalued) on a per unit basis.


Such easy issuance of fiat money made without exchanging any value or demonstrating any meaningful proof of work to earn it is – essentially – stealing time and energy from the people who do. Today’s modern fiat money is absolutely abundant and requires very little effort to create it, issue it, and indeed use it. Just like every other instance of fiat money in history, today’s fiat money is an unsound money that is innately inflationary, completely corruptible, and, over time – as Voltaire is said to have put it – will tend toward its intrinsic value of zero.


INFLATION


“Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.”

– Sam Ewing.


Inflation is defined as an increase in the quantity of money in circulation in a given economy. Many, however, typically think of inflation as the tendency for all prices and wages to rise over time.[4] Most first-world governments have monetary policies that aim at an official inflation target set between 2%-3% annually. In simple terms, this means that your money is going to be worth somewhere between 2% and 3% less every year… officially. Conversely, unless you get a raise that aligns with inflation, you will need to work somewhere between 2% and 3% harder every year just to maintain purchasing power.


In 1980s Australia, a $4.20 per hour minimum wage had the same purchasing power that an $18.90 per hour job does today. A movie ticket that cost $7 in 1984 costs more than $20 today. A litre of petrol in Australia in 1982 was .59 cents; today, that same litre of petrol is $1.48. People often wonder why it is increasingly hard to keep up with the cost of living. Inflation is why, because inflation makes your money (your time and energy) worth less over time.


You may be familiar with the term ‘Quantitative Easing’(QE), which refers to a form of unconventional monetary policy whereby a central bank purchases government bonds or other financial assets in order to inject money into the economy to try to expand economic activity. QE is an obfuscating phrase that really means money printing, which is akin to counterfeiting. As demonstrated by the basketball card analogy, inflating the money supply via QE makes money less scarce, which, in-turn, makes money worth less over time. The ability of governments and central banks to consort to conduct QE – that is, to effortlessly print more money into existence, out of thin air, without any restraint, aggregate friction, or proof of work, whatsoever – is an immoral action that dilutes people's purchasing power while favouring existing asset holders and any one else closest to the money printer (see Cantillon effect). It also, unintentionally or otherwise, generates bad incentives that can cause harmful outcomes for both people and the environment.


History is rife with examples of civilisations succumbing to the temptation of monetary manipulation, resulting in subsequent price inflation leading to the initiation of immoral incentives becoming the catalyst for corrupt behaviour. Behaviour, which, ultimately, eventuated in utterly unsustainable, even horrifyingly destructive outcomes.[5]


Virtually all fiat currencies throughout history have had their values completely destroyed by inflation. From the coin clipping in Ancient Rome, the Rai stones (see image below) in Micronesia (whose corrupted currencies preceded the collapse of both their respective civilisations), the aggry beads of West Africa (which preceded the North American slave-trade), to hyperinflation in Weimar Germany (which preceded WWII). It is far too tempting for the all too few who have direct access to the powers of the money printer not to use it for their own advantage.


Today, we trade goods and services using modern variants of fiat money, with its countless imprints of famous people, native animals, and national myths. Modern fiat money is issued (‘printed’) into existence by a nation’s central bank with the all too simple stroke of a computer keyboard. It is this ease of action that effortlessly inflates the money supply, and makes the money you work to earn become worth less and less over time.



Consider the following parable – based on an explication by Gary North in his book ‘Honest Money’[6] – of the hypothetical winemaker working within an unsound, inflationary monetary system:


One day, a winemaker wakes up to news of recent QE measures undertaken by her government. Overnight, government policy doubled the money supply by decreeing the printing of billions (if not trillions) of dollars to “save the economy”. The winemaker is now faced with three options:


1. Continue selling her wine for $40, with the knowledge that the value of the dollar has just dropped by 50%, thanks to a doubling of the money supply.

2. Add water and dilute the wine, or use cheaper inputs to reduce production costs, thus reducing the overall quality of her wine, but enabling her to continue selling it for $40.

3. Double the selling price of her wine to $80 in order to get the same value she was earning yesterday, which is now denominated in the recently devalued dollars of today.


If our winemaker chooses the first option, she will incur a 50% loss. If she chooses option two and decides to water down her wine, she will defraud her customers by selling them an inferior product. If she chooses to double the price of her wine to maintain quality and profitability, she runs the risk of losing customers to other less honest competitors who are willing to compromise on quality. Since diluting the wine or using cheaper inputs is more difficult to detect for most wine drinkers, and offers immediate financial gain, many winemakers, like her, encounter strong, and frequently involuntary incentives to take the path of least resistance.


In this instance, then, the government’s, arguably well-intentioned, money printing policy has actually incentivised our winemaker to defraud her customers in order for her just to keep up with inflation. The effect of printing money to “save the economy” has caused certain unintended consequences to manifest, including such fraudulent (albeit involuntary) actions to be undertaken by our winemaker. Action, which will eventually erode the trust of her customers, over time, thereby harming the long term profitability and viability of her business. Undoubtedly, such actions are unsustainable.


Inflation is the devaluation of currency. A devaluation of currency equates to reduced purchasing power. Less purchasing power means less wealth. Less wealth means less time – or, more time working tomorrow to purchase the same exact things you bought yesterday. And, of course, less time means less freedom to do the things you want. In short, inflation is theft. Furthermore, as the parable demonstrated, inflation is the main driver of bad incentives resulting in unseen negative externalities while exacerbating existing economic inequalities, and covertly contributing to greater ecological, and environmental destruction.


INCENTIVES


“When we change the way we grow our food, we change our food, we change society, we change our values.”

– Masanobu Fukuoka.


Incentives matter. We act upon that which we value, which is often influenced by our incentives. Long-term, or short-term, when the incentives are moral, the tendency is towards good (positive) outcomes. When the incentives are immoral, the tendency is towards bad (negative) outcomes. Integrity and corruption are two sides of the same coin. When money is corrupt, civilisations are soon corrupted. Unsound money, like fiat money, is the prime mover of bad incentives.


Getting the incentives right from the start is crucial.


Wendell Berry’s books and essays on modern farming in North America illuminate for the reader the social, financial, and environmentally unsustainable side effects of big, industrialised, corporatized, and increasingly centralised approaches to agriculture. Whether intentional or not, modern manifestations of ancient agricultural systems are coerced to function this way, thanks to the concealed compulsions of an endlessly extractive inflationary economic system which aims at infinite growth on a finite planet. In his essay, Think Little, Berry observes how…


“… the American farmer is harder pressed and harder worked than ever before; his margin of profit is small, his hours are long, his outlays for land and equipment and the expenses of maintenance and operation are growing rapidly greater; he cannot compete with industry for labour; he is being forced more and more to depend on the use of destructive chemicals and on the wasteful methods of haste… He is being forced off the land into the cities, his place taken by absentee owners, corporations, and machines.”[7]


One of the ways in which the modern day farmer is harder pressed, harder worked, and being forced off the land is through land monetisation. Have you ever wondered why so much good farmland is being sold in order to be developed for the construction of yet another sprawling suburb with a terrible name, like Sunny Ridge, or The Harvest? Land, these days, is literally being treated like money; i.e. a store of value. The more that land is treated as a surrogate store of value, the more its use case as a space for actual food production gets priced out. It simply becomes too expensive to grow or produce anything on it. And so, often desperate, cash-strapped farmers are forced to sub-divide and sell. It’s very similar to how the monetisation of gold made it so expensive for it to be used in the making of actual things. Gold is worth more when it sits in a vault, doing nothing, than it is when its being used to make various electronics, like phones and computers, or space vehicles built by NASA, and of course jewellery. Just as the monetization of gold priced out its economic use case as a very beneficial, albeit expensive, industrial metal, so too does the monetization of land price out its economic use case as a very beneficial, yet increasingly expensive, place to grow things, like food – which is a reasonably important thing for human beings (and other animals) to have available, right?[8]


In much, if not all, of Berry’s writings on farming and agriculture, especially his lamentations regarding the behemothic rise of industrial agriculture in America, he paints an achingly beautiful picture of the modern distressed farmer wondering why his land, his livelihood, his history and heritage is becoming less profitable and no longer viable in the modern age. Like many of us, Berry mistakes the true reason for the expansion of industrial scale agriculture resulting from artificial financial selection driven by unsound fiat money. By not realising the role that money plays in a society and the subsequently skewed incentives that such unbridled QE money printing instantiates, Berry overlooks the root cause of the inexorable environmental destruction of American (and by extension global) farmland.


Read his explication of the agricultural strip-miner in The Unsettling of America


“I conceive a strip-miner to be a model exploiter, and as a model nurturer I take the old-fashioned idea or ideal of a farmer. The exploiter is a specialist, an expert; the nurturer is not. The standard of the exploiter is efficiency; the standard of the nurturer is care. The exploiter's goal is money, profit; the nurturer's goal is health – his land's health, his own, his family's, his community's, his country's. Whereas the exploiter asks of a piece of land only how much and how quickly it can be made to produce, the nurturer asks a question that is much more complex and difficult: What is its carrying capacity? (That is: How much can be taken from it without diminishing it? What can it produce dependably for an indefinite time?) The exploiter wishes to earn as much as possible by as little work as possible; the nurturer expects, certainly, to have a decent living from his work, but his characteristic wish is to work as well as possible. The competence of the exploiter is in organization; that of the nurturer is in order – a human order, that is, that accommodates itself both to other order and to mystery. The exploiter typically serves an institution or organization; the nurturer serves land, household, community, place. The exploiter thinks in terms of numbers, quantities, "hard facts"; the nurturer in terms of character, condition, quality, kind.”[9]


What could possibly cause Berry’s exploiter to emphasise maximum extraction for short-term profit, over the long-term productive sustainability and ultimate health of his land, his environment, and, by extension, himself, his family, and his community, which is to say, his place? Money - the cornerstone of human civilisation, which, coincidentally, was instigated by the agricultural revolution itself.


The prevalence of Berry’s agricultural exploiter throughout our modern society is a direct consequence of bad money; easily issued, unbacked, unsound inflationary fiat money, initiating unintended consequences, often fuelling bad outcomes. It is fiat money which incentivises a tendency towards centralised and industrialised modes of agriculture. Such agriculture has more to do with achieving profitable economies of scale than it does with growing high quality, nutritious food. Such agriculture requires enormous tracts of land to be cleared for broad acre farming, which destroys native habitat and disrupts natural ecosystems, even before a single seed has been sown. Fiat money artificially selects for a vast monoculture of non-native species of plants and animals to be intensively farmed – strip mined – for maximum short-term profit. This type of farming rapidly depletes if not destroys the very thing we all rely on to grow healthy, high quality and nutritious food; the soil.


Fiat money devastates soil fertility by encouraging ideas like the ‘balance-sheet’ theory of farming, which is the prevailing notion that soil health can easily be restored by fertilising it only with the synthesised mineral nutrients of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK, for short), and that such large scale farms are more productive when the liberal use of carcinogenic glyphosate and other inorganic agro-chemical pesticides, fungicides, fertilisers, veterinary antibiotics and other supplementary medications are applied.

Indeed, many contemporary farmers still believe that this is the only way to farm productively and profitably. This modern mode of thinking can be traced back to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, who told America’s farmers in 1973 to, “get big or get out” by planting commodity crops, such as soy and corn “from fencerow to fencerow”.[10] Coincidently, our modern fiat money experiment got its start right around this time, thanks to the Nixon Shock, which involved the US going off the gold standard completely and ending the Bretton Woods International Monetary System in 1971.[11] Take a look at what happened in 1971 after Nixon did this.


Bad money; unsound money; fiat money, driving bad incentives and delivering bad outcomes. Remember, a civilisations culture runs downhill from the money.


Despite mistaking the roots for the leaves, Berry’s writing provides the reader – one who now comprehends the negative effects of inflation derived from an unsound money – with a valuable insight into the life of the well-intentioned, hard-working farmer. A farmer, who, despite his best efforts is beset on all sides with increasingly dwindling profits, and so is compelled to gradually shift away, over time, from being a sustainable nurturer of a given landscape (conscious of its carrying capacity) towards becoming an unsustainable exploiter of the environment – whether consciously or unconsciously, intentionally, voluntarily, or not – simply, so that he may continue to farm the land as profitably as possible in order to feed himself, his family, contribute to his community, and meet with the ever increasing costs of living and working that our day and age demands.


The grapes of wrath grow heavy for the vintage.


Eventually, the covert force of inflation overwhelms the farmer (or his subsequent generations) who is desperate to maintain the parity of his farm’s past productive capacity with that of the freewheeling central bank money printer liberally going “brrr” and rapidly monetising the land right out from under him.


To reiterate, QE or central bank money printing unconsciously incentivises a race to the bottom by biasing the motivations of the farmer (and the winemaker) who, desperate for profit over a long enough time frame, is compelled to seek cheaper and cheaper inputs with which to manage their farm in order to maintain and sustain their yields and remain profitable for as long and as best as they can. Some, in an effort to generate more income, may even try to invest their capital elsewhere – such as the stock market, or attempt vertical integration by building cabins or renting out their home on Airbnb. Such distractions unavoidably reduce the time that the farmer can now spend actively and productively farming, let alone thinking about ways in which to improve upon the farm for the future.


Treading water gets tiring.


In conclusion, inflation wreaked by unsound fiat money is irreconcilable with environmental conservation.[12] It is for this reason why contemporary notions of sustainability, which operate from within an inflationary economic system based on fiat money – a system which is predicated on infinite growth – does not, cannot, and will not align with the limitations set and imposed by a planet comprised of finite resources.


In short, fiat money is unsustainable.


BITCOIN FIXES THIS


“The root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that’s required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust…”


“I've been working on a new electronic cash system that's fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party.”

– Satoshi Nakamoto.


The magic internet money that is Bitcoin is more, much more, than just magic internet money. Bitcoin is a scarce, decentralised digital currency, without a central bank, CEO, or other single administrator. It operates as a distributed peer-to-peer network where users can send and receive money without the need for intermediaries.

Bitcoin is the exact opposite of unsound and unsustainable fiat money. Bitcoin makes fiat obsolete, and makes environmental, economic, and social sustainability goals actually attainable.


Bitcoin is the first digital resource ever to exist. It is inflation-resistant, by design; there will never be more than 21 million bitcoins issued, ever. Therefore, Bitcoin is scarce. Bitcoin is divisible. One bitcoin is made up of one hundred million ‘sats’ – short for Satoshi’s, in honour of Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. ‘Sats’ are fractions of a bitcoin that can be divided any way you wish. Bitcoin is frictionless. It can be sent via email, text message, or even paper, essentially for free and in real-time, to anyone, anywhere in the world without the help of a trusted third-party. Bitcoin is verifiable. Many have tried, but Bitcoin uses high-level cryptography to ensure it cannot be copied, faked, or counterfeited. Bitcoin is global. Like the internet, email, or even gold itself, Bitcoin is distributed all around the world. It is decentralised and cannot be controlled by any one person or any one country. Bitcoin is open source software, meaning it is not owned by any one person or company. Everyone is free to own it, use it, and contribute to it. Bitcoin is the newest technology to serve the function of money for the world, and the soundest money the world has ever known.[13]


Bitcoin is the antithesis of Quantitative Easing. It is Quantitative Hardening; meaning, simply, rather than a central bank issuing more units over time and making them worth less, Bitcoin’s protocol is such that it issues less units over time, thus making them worth more. This makes Bitcoin the ultimate store of value, empowering individuals to save their money (time and energy). Because of this inflation-resistant characteristic, in conjunction with its other sound monetary properties, which are inherent to the protocol, Bitcoin gives people, who work by trading their time and energy, the ability to protect the money they earn by doing so in an asset that dynamically appreciates in value over time. Bitcoiners often refer to this inimitable technology by the acronym NGU: Number Go Up.


NGU strongly incentivises savings, and savings have always been and always will be a net benefit to humanity.


SAVINGS


The ability to save and preserve the product of our labour is essential to human flourishing and civilisation. Fiat money surreptitiously suggests “there’s more where that came from”, whereas, in actual fact, the world and its resources are fundamentally finite. Savings offsets debt and is a mitigation against uncertainty. Savings enables one to face the future with increasing confidence. Savings adds value to society and gives individuals more control over the way they live their life and choose to spend their time. The ability to save frees up an individual’s time and allows them to pursue the things that truly interest them and makes them happy. Perhaps, crafting and creating things that others find valuable, and may even wish to trade for, which, of course, results in an overall increase in the satisfaction of the coincidence of wants leading to a virtuous cycle of even more happiness, creativity and productivity (never a bad thing). Savings makes possible the potential for individuals to generate and investigate a myriad of new ideas, and seek out potentially valuable discoveries that were hitherto impossible to dream up before, due to a fundamental lack of time, energy, and, indeed, money. Thus, savings supports a more enthusiastic mode of being for individuals and a more fulfilled and realised society overall. Sound money empowers all manner of remarkable and possible futures for humanity.

Imagine if more farmers, viticulturists, winegrowers, literally anyone’s hard work was honoured by the ability to generate meaningful savings. Imagine that, because of such savings, they had less uncertainty and more confidence in the future. That they had more time to focus on improving their land, their environment, their farms, their crops, their products, and thus their families, their community; their place in the world, for generations to come. Imagine that just by using a sound money which empowers them to save they could do all this, instead of merely maintaining such things just to keep up with the rising cost of production and the increasing costs of living. Imaging living generation to generation, instead of year to year, crop to crop. Imagine the explosion of knowledge and expansion of understanding about our environment that would ensue if people could confidently, safely and securely store their time and energy in a money that really incentivises savings because its value rises over time, thanks to its inimitable network effects and inherent sound money properties.


Imagine if we all had the innate ability to store our time and energy, to save our money and preserve our wealth in something – like Bitcoin – whose monetary policy is enforced by the many, not the few; a money that is governed by rules, not rulers; a money which ensures that the time and energy we trade in order to earn it, save it, and in doing so generate valuable, meaningful wealth, which is protected from being debased, devalued and diluted by immutable math and code.


Just imagine how such an unassuming thing like money – sound money – could be a net benefit not only to us and our own individual well being, but to our families, our communities, our society, our environment and its ecology, and thus to our civilisation more generally. Imagine.


SUSTAINABLE SOUND MONEY


Fix the money, fix the world – as the new saying goes.


Unlike inflationary fiat currencies, which foster mal-investment and favour infinite growth of finite resources, Bitcoin supports savings and thus shrewd and sustainable investment into products and services that promote efficiencies and innovation, that drive general improvement over time. Bitcoin is the solution to the problem of Wendell Berry’s agricultural strip-miner, who exploits the environment for short-term profit. It is the solution to the problem of our hypothetical winemaker, who is trying to improve the quality of her wines in the face of insurmountable inflation. And, it is the solution to the problem of an increasing amount of producers, marketers, and organisations misusing the term ‘sustainable’, co-opting it, and degrading its meaning in order to promote and sell more high velocity, superficially ‘green’ stuff. In short, Bitcoin makes contemporary notions of sustainability true and tenable.


Furthermore – by way of dispelling any lurking fear, uncertainty, or doubt regarding Bitcoin’s energy use – one of Bitcoin’s most brilliant features is in its increasing utilisation of renewable, stranded, and non-rival energy resources to power the network (especially, when compared to the hidden costs of the incumbent petro-dollar system).[14]† For the first time in human history, we have a technology that directly financially incentivises the discovery of cheaper ways to harness energy, regardless of geographical location, consumer demand, or other historical hindrances to energy generation.[15] This makes Bitcoin, significantly, practicably, and infinitely more environmentally, financially, and socially sustainable than any other money, or commodity, or product that comes with or without the superficial coat of green-wash that one may try to apply.


Bitcoin is the solution to the problem of the corruption and manipulation of money wrought by our current defective fiat based economic system. A system which promotes inequality and environmental destruction by involuntarily incentivising the slide to immoral and inherently unsustainable individual and communal actions, which – as I have argued – often yield harmful negative externalities, as well as unseen and unintended consequences.


Saving the world starts with saving money. Bitcoin changes the incentive structure by providing everyone, everywhere on Earth with the ability to save by storing their time and energy in the soundest money the world has ever known. NGU means an increase in value. An increase in value means more purchasing power. More purchasing power means more wealth. More wealth means more time. More time means more freedom to do the things you want – say, develop the means and methods to truly live, work and farm your land, your place, sustainably with sincerity…

Bitcoin’s bright orange colour belies its profoundly green core. Indeed, Bitcoin is a gift of regeneration and reparation for Earth and its inhabitants. Bitcoin empowers humanity to become deeply and sincerely sustainable, because it enables people to save their time and energy in the hardest money the world has ever known. Remember, a civilisation’s culture – and, therefore its agriculture – runs downhill from the money…


Fix the money; fix the farming; fix the world.





- -



REFERENCES

[1] Yuval Noah Harari; Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, 2011.

[2] Jeff Booth; The Greatest Game, 2020.

[3] Nick Szarbo; Shelling Out: The Origins of Money, 2002.

[4] Ludwig von Mises; Inflation: An Unworkable Fiscal Policy, 1951.

[5] Robert Breedlove; Masters and Slaves of Money, 2020.

[6] Gary North; Honest Money, 1986.

[7] Wendell Berry; Think Little: Essays, 1972.

[8] Insight h/t Joel Untapped Growth, 2021.

[9] Wendell Berry; The Unsettling of America, 1977; Allen Farrington, The Capital Strip Mine, 2021.

[10] Heather H. Scholar, Federal Farm Policies Hit, 1973.

[11] Sandra Kollen Ghizoni, Nixon Ends Convertibility of US Dollars to Gold, 2013.

[12] Robert Breedlove; What Is Money? (podcast) Episode 15 (The Jeff Booth Series, Episode 5, Digital Age, Energy, and the Environment), 2021.

[13] Saifedean Ammous; The Bitcoin Standard, 2018.

[14] Square, Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative Memorandum; Bitcoin is Key to an Abundant, Clean Energy Future, 2021.

[15] Hodl’n Caufield, Selene Lindstrom; Bitcoin Mining and the Case for More Energy, 2021.


HAT TIPS AND FURTHER RESEARCH


† Alex Gladstein; Uncovering the Hidden Costs of the Petrodollar, 2021.

· Money as Time: Robert Breedlove; Money, Bitcoin, and Time, 2019.

· Money as Energy: Robert Breedlove; What Is Money? (podcast) Episode 5 (The Michael Saylor Series; Channelling Monetary Energy Across Space and Time), 2020.

· On The Importance of Savings: Pierre Rochard, ; Rediscovering Savings Technology, 2021; Bitcoin As Savings Technology & Number Go Up, Pierre Rochard and Saifedean Ammous; Stephan Livera Podcast (Ep. 147), 2020.

· Bitcoin Twitter: An incredibly insightful albeit niche corner of the internet where a hydra of hyper-intelligent, parochial, plebeian cyber hornets swarm like white blood cells to argue and discuss, hash out, shit-post and promote battle-hardened ideas around sound money, sovereignty, liberty and freedom.

· Absolutely not investment advice. Readers considering investing in any asset discussed herein should do their own research and should not rely on this work. . ***

431 views3 comments