Is the Future Worth Investing In?

Most investors today have a profound lack of imagination about the future. They employ accounting measures from the past that pretend the world will continue to be as it was — something that is deeply delusional during times of accelerating change like what humanity is going through now.

I was on a call last week with one of my colleagues who is an expert in financial services. He described how there is a guaranteed 2–3% return-on-investment for anyone who might buy up farms in the Midwestern United States and convert them from traditional to regenerative agriculture. Think about it; A guaranteed return!

But most large investors capable of making such a deal are not interested. They want 7% or more because this is what they’ve come to expect from the “glory days” of extractive financing. All of their buddies brag about these kinds of returns at the country club. It would be embarrassing to do something so boring and uncool like creating the food systems of the future.

So what happens? The planet continues to plummet into full-fledged collapse. Humanity barrels ever faster toward our own demise. Mass Extinction looms closer on the horizon. All because it isn’t cool to get a 2% return.

We have a bizarre situation on our hands. As I have been writing about for years, humanity must learn how to regenerate landscapes and create healthy communities. Literally hundreds of thousands of other people have been saying the same thing. Scientists agree. Heads of state agree. Religious leaders agree.

But investors don’t.

They want their cake. And they want extra ice cream with it. They are not discerning reality or behaving like adults. I wish I didn’t have to say it so crudely, but here we are in 2019 — after DECADES of advance warning about the impending ecological and social collapse — and investors who control massive piles of capital don’t want to regenerate the land or save humanity because it doesn’t fit with the social norms of their exclusive tribe.

So let this sink in. The money exists to create the future we all need. The solutions are all around us to pick up and employ. But we are starved of opportunity because the tiny elite who control capital flows don’t want to do anything different.

As an adult myself, I see this as a shameful dereliction of duty. We have a planet in crisis and a model of economics that is obviously a sham. Yet those who benefit the most from it are blinded by their self-confidence and kept ignorant by the “normalcy” of behaviors among their peers.

All the while, biodiversity continues to plummet and top soils continue washing into the sea along with industrial sewage that could be avoided with smart investments. Those who care about the future will agree that this is a stupid, terrible waste — especially when we know what needs to be done about it.

I write this note as a wake-up call to all who want to live responsibly in this uniquely dangerous time in human history.

Onward, fellow humans.


Joe Brewer is the executive director of the Center for Applied Cultural Evolution. Get involved by signing up for our newsletter and consider making a donation to support our work.