There is a lot of talk of the Y2K problem, that is, “The Year 2000 Bug,” which, as we approach January 1st, 2000, will render a significant portion of the computers and computer networks of the planet paralysed. A recent issue of the prestigious international magazine “The Economist” featured on the cover a cartoon of planet earth melting like a ball of wax. The message was clear, at the dawn of a millenium, the editors of the Economist fear not only a computer bug, but a broader economic meltdown that The Year 2000 Bug will only exacerbate.
At a moment perhaps not as precise as 11:59 PM, December 31st, 1999, our real Y2K problem will be not on the microchip but on the entire planet: Global economic meltdown, global economic restructuring; something not malthusian, but something as inevitable as the seasons. Let´s figure out how to hedge. When sustainability becomes not an ideology but an imperative, in the face of a global economic slowdown, two thousand new forests will be a good investment.
In mid-September one of the biggest and best investment banks in the world had their annual technology conference in San Francisco. EcoWorld was there, on one of the four magnificant nights they staged. Nights where they hosted thousands of guests with $100 bottles of wine littering the tables, the finest liquor, world-class live entertainment, world-class finger foods; there were gigantic gems on countless rings that were blinding in all directions. The attendees were the elite of the elite, some of the richest and most sophisticated investors since the renaissance.
But how many of these technology investors see the operating system of an ecosystem, and the compelling investment represented by sustainability?
How many of them will hedge their volatile and intangible financial holdings with ownership of real, perpetually profitable forests? How many of them think not just of the Y2K problem on the chip, but think also of the Y2K solution on the earth, two-thousand new forests around the world?
Around the year 2000, let the technology barons pool their resources, hedge their bets, and reach out to their global audience with the credo of Nature and Technology in Harmony. Let them plant new forests on 2,000 new sites, sites that were desertified, urbanized, or are just generally forestable, anywhere and everywhere on earth. In the name of product diversification, they´ll need to make sure to plant at least 2,000 different species of trees, and at each site plant a forest with anywhere from 2,000 to 2,000 million new trees.
With Nature and Technology in Harmony as the operating credo, and perpetual profit as the financial goal, plant the new forests and let them grow.
Across Eurasia from Norway to Indochina, in the islands of Polinesia and Indonesia, from the Americas to Africa, the forests are being overcut NOW. Every time cutting exceeds regeneration the future value of the wood goes up.
Where is the futures market for precious and slow-growing hardwoods? Wood has a tangible value and a non-manipulable rate of regeneration. Pricing for wood is at least as rational as the pricing of the stock of corporations; not ideology but pure Newtonian market physics can predict that the market should NOW be starting to invest in and save the rarest and most sought after woods. Because of technology and the internet, a bigger and broader market for trees is imminent, bringing the effortless focus and copious cash from saavy investors everywhere. “Ecology Markets” are just around the corner, and they will revitalize global ecosystems, and hedge global portfolios.
The Y2K Solution would be a giant step towards reforesting the planet, and can succeed if included among those inspired to help plant the new forests are the very people who think now primarily of the other Y2K concept, the Y2K problem on the chip. If a tenth of the effort to solve that problem on the chip is put into implementing this solution on the earth, we´ll be well on our way towards a better world, a new millenium with more people, but also more trees, more water, and eventually, a new boom.