Nothing quite demonstrates human ignorance like the maniacal use and occurrences of the phrase “sustainable,” and worse, what ignites the ill-conceived inference to “sustainability” in any corporate or funding brochures, investment memorandi or government gobbledegook. Sustainable is sold as the new “paradigm shift” in an emerging idiocracy, designed to soothe the uninformed into ever-lasting compliance and acceptance.
Allow me to explain the opening shot to the bow.
The placebo effect
The use of the term sustainable, especially when innocently and benevolently applied, to focus on reducing the damage we do to our planet, can achieve notable awareness with the public and induce a positive change in behavior.
Not unlike people seldom sick to begin with, participate in a drug development study are being given a placebo and upon completion appear to be “cured.” The drug did not harm them, hooray. Sustainability efforts like the placebo do not hurt us, is now the cheap karma sold to the evolutionary uninformed.
The real problem, of course, occurs when people diagnosed with the symptoms of cancer are given the placebo and die because of non-treatment, or worse, are not cured by the new medicine because it does not work – just like the promise of sustainability representing an evolutionary placebo.
And as we all should know by now, humanity suffers from some serious life-threatening diseases, conjured up by ourselves, to which the ruse of a placebo will provide unwelcome respite.
Our universe is continually expanding, and as we discovered in the early years of the 19th century, at an accelerating pace, forcing humanity to maintain a dynamic equilibrium with nature we depend on for survival.
Nothing, therefore, stays the same. And nothing can accurately be encapsulated in a theory of absolutism using the promise of anything ever-lasting. Sustainability, including its dependencies, is, therefore, a manmade lie.
Who cares, you say with a whiff of lightheartedness that enthralls many people captivated by personal survival and well-being, as long as we make progress on improving the world we live in. Can’t we chalk this discourse up to a mere dialectic?
No. For the consequences of our evolutionary ignorance are quite severe.
I ask you to ponder; what if the pace of human improvement enabled by the systems of humanity is not commensurate with the rate of change by which our universe expands? And worse, what if the adverse effects from the false promise of sustainability are diminishing our ability to keep pace with the said rate of change? We will then have become the patient taking the placebo and succumbing from non-treatment, dying before we should.
A big deal, I think.
The adverse effects from the pretense of sustainability are accelerated in frequency and prolonged in impact by the mandate of now major financial institutions, equally indulging in evolutionary innocence and ignorance.
Institutional investors, along with professional consultancies riding the gravy train, proudly announce Environment-Social-Government (ESG), Corporate Citizen/Responsibility, Impact Investing, Responsible, and Social Investing programs with the same false promise of sustainability as its lynchpin strategy, secured by a subscription to a dubious rating system provided by external agencies with no evolutionary relevance.
The theory determines what can be discovered, in the words of Albert Einstein. And a false-positive theory of sustainability, reverberated by a long chain of opportunistic greater-fool investments eventually dumped over the fence to the innocent public post-IPO, will kick the false-negatives of evolutionary excellence to the curb while proliferating an anthropogenic cascade for decennia to come.
In my conversations with managers of large institutional funds in the country, I keep warning them about the grave incompatibility between an asset-allocation strategy based on sustainability and our innate evolutionary compass, a conflict already surfacing as witnessed by the asymmetry of returns.
Asset managers, operating at the top of our financial food chain, and by their asset allocation strategy dictating which companies contribute to evolution, must, therefore, implement the fundamental principles of evolution — an awesome obligation, directly responsible for the continuity of human excellence.
The karma of said responsibility dawned on many asset owners. Their naive implementation hinging on sustainability, however, not merely an imperfect proxy of evolution, but worse, incompatible with evolution. Quite scary to realize 43% of asset owners are now correlating the consistency of returns to a thesis unlikely to produce them.
This attachment to the wrong evolutionary tenet, of sustainability, endangers especially the people who entrusted pension funds with their retirement contributions and savings. As those funds are already struggling to produce meager 7% returns over fifteen-year holding periods, and challenging the actuaries. All while the propensity for humanity to deliver meaningful innovation has access to an 80% greenfield.
Luckily, there is still time to align the long of institutional horizons with the horizon of change from a new investment thesis.
Terms of Endearment
I know, the sound of a new investment thesis rings an immediate Pavlovian flight-response in the world of institutional investing tied to the fiduciary responsibility of precious financial reserves. But by new, I mean newly implemented. Not new in evolutionary terms.
For the theory of evolution is not based on sustainability and thus the length of life, but is instead based on renewal, practiced on earth for some 4.5 billion years — the precepts of entropy and renewal applying equally and even longer – we now know – to all other planets in our universe. Our manmade systems and investment strategies must, therefore, change from the false supposition of sustainability to a conformant evolutionary thesis of renewal, with the prolonging of sustainability a mere consequence of renewal at its cause.
The role of humanity with all the constructs we built, whether we create new products, form companies, or invest in them, must be directed as dictated by the laws of evolution to improve the strengthening of the renewal of humanity. And only our best effort to keep up with the pace of our ever-changing equilibrium with an expanding universe will ensure our species lives as long as humanly possible.
We must change the operating-systems for humanity to adopt the aforementioned fundamental precept of renewal. Which means we must change how we define and implement freedom so we can build dynamic and mostly self-regulating evolutionary meritocratic marketplaces that trace, harbor, and promulgate the ingenuity of our meaningful differences. So, we can expand the exploration of human ingenuity as quickly as possible along the vectors of the expansion of the universe.
No longer can we afford to only explore human ingenuity along oligarchic self-interests that promote the wealthiest people in the cemetery, for we will all die amongst them.
To build the strength of human renewal means we must focus on the quality of individual lives over its length. The strength of our health, identified as the cause, contributing to the length of our life as its consequence. The thesis of strength, in the words of Albert Einstein, subsequently determining the quality of life that can be discovered.
All of the new operating systems for humanity must be infused with “new” principles. The 4.5 billion-year-old evolutionary proven ones. A process identified by merely changing the rules of the game, with some transitional leniency from what was, to what must be. We can change the world for the better by changing nothing, nothing merely referring to not disturbing the roots of our innate evolutionary process.
What does that mean?
In our personal lives that means we must all pay attention to what we eat and how much. We must exercise and keep fit, to perpetuate an offspring of equal or better disposition. With the merit of our attention, responsibility, and investments in health measured and recorded, rather than ignored. Whereby the cost of individual health insurance premiums becomes inversely proportionate to the personal obligation to stay healthy. Indeed, introducing a meritocracy of health.
In the investment world that means we invest no longer in companies that prolong life but instead improve the quality of life. We stop investing in tobacco companies that kill people, food companies that cut corners and even avoid pharmaceutical companies that keep the chronically ill alive forever (a transitional period is essential here). We must instead invest in companies that improve the renewal of humanity, with a strength, composition, and diversity of spirit proven to expand the fractal of human excellence in all directions.
Operating as government that means we establish the thesis of sovereignty that not only determines the people’s rights but also establishes the people’s obligations to expand what humanity can discover. We determine the sovereign evolutionary goalposts towards which we point and rate the merit of finance and production to boost the evolutionary excellence of our constituents.
The next dimension
Sustainability is flawed for many more reasons than I have space or time to mention here, but another significant discrepancy is its inherent supposition of absolutism. Suggesting a specific set of principles will lead to an utopia of resources without end-of-life. We know that to be scientifically and cosmologically untrue. There are no principles one can subscribe to that avert end-of-life. Any supposition of absolutism of existence is fundamentally incompatible with the relativity of renewal predicated by nature.
In fact, when we deploy new principles of freedom to spawn dynamic meritocracies, we must ensure the very definition of freedom that enables meritocracies adheres to the freedom of freedom. Or else, our definition of freedom will rapidly become the opposite of free the minute the system is deployed.
Hence, the systems of humanity to build the excellence of human renewal must be based on a relativity theory, the very relativity we built right into the foundational thesis of a new operating-system for humanity.
Life cannot exist without death. Freedom cannot exist without rules. Such defines the pertinent renewal derived from the implementation of nature’s paradox. A renewal responsible for a steady influx of fresh ideas and adaptations contributing to a dynamic equilibrium to meet the accelerating expansion of an ever-moving-target universe.
The prolonging of our species on earth is predicated on the strength of our renewal. With, once more, the strength of renewal as the cause, spawning the prolonging of our sustainability as its consequence. In that order, and entropy not taking any prisoners.
So, for humanity’s sake, let’s say farewell to the grave depravity of reason incurred by stale and misplaced theories of sustainability, and say a warm welcome to the ever-expanding fractal of human excellence incurred by renewal.
Your kids will praise your heroism one day.