We are all at risk with the Coronavirus. It cannot be contained at this point in time — though there is still much that can be done to slow its spread with social distancing and quarantines to avoid overwhelming our health care systems. The fact of the matter is (a) all of us are pretty likely to catch it; and (b) some of us will not survive.
My question in this essay is “What if there was a mechanism for regenerating the Earth that could make these deaths meaningful?” How might we create the tools for restoring health and resilience to humanity in the midsts of unprecedented planetary change?
One thought I’ve had for a while is that a significant population of humans holds the distinct privilege of being elderly and well-resourced in this time of cascading collapse. There are quite a lot of people living in North America and Europe — as well as in other parts of the world — who are above the age of 60, own homes, and have retirements. As terrible as it is to consider, many who fit this description will not survive the pandemic as it infects hundreds of millions of people and causes a cascade of second-order disruptions.
These people hold in aggregate a huge amount of money. It was mostly accumulated during the unique (and soon-to-be-ending) period of industrialism that was made possible by fossil fuels. Statistically speaking, they are only alive because industrial agriculture converted billions of hectares of land into farms to feed them — destroying Earth’s biodiversity and destabilizing planetary climate. As such, their privilege was gained by the spoils of pillaging the Earth.
Imagine if these people were to re-invest the wealth taken from the Earth in a manner that enabled it to be regenerated. They could place their money in an Earth Regeneration Fund that enables people all over the planet to set up regenerative bioregional economies that restore ecosystem health and grow community resilience. This becomes the investment platform for safeguarding humanity’s future.
The fund would work like this:
- Create a platform cooperative that manages the assets of the fund.
- Pool funds for regenerating the Earth by making direct contributions from individuals and institutions with a vested interest in humanity continuing to exist.
- Use the funds to acquire private land and place it in a community land trust.
- Accumulate land across entire territories and remove it from the private market for whole-system regeneration efforts.
- Support the education and livelihoods of those who train in regenerative design and devote themselves to Earth regeneration.
- Set up monitoring systems that track progress toward regenerative goals.
- Create a cooperative land bank that can re-invest value created by regenerative projects in the land and community whose livelihoods depend upon them.
This fund becomes a mechanism for removing land from speculative markets and establishing around it the safeguards enabled by land trusts and cooperative land banks. It de-risks other investments by creating tracking and validation systems for the regenerative actions that begin to flow around the work of people who join the Earth regeneration effort.
I am thinking of a specific way that this vision might materialize in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. Imagine having a “Regenerative Death Clause” in your will that declares if you die from the Coronavirus a designated amount of money is gifted to the Earth Regeneration Fund. This enables you to keep the money if you survive. But if you become really sick and realize the end is near, it will enable you to experience your death as part of a great rebirth of life on Earth with the landscape regeneration enabled by your dying wish.
If this is of interest to people, I will recruit the financial and legal expertise to set up the Earth Regeneration Fund. Yes, I am really serious. We are living in an extremely precarious time in human history. Extinction for our species is a non-zero possibility. Here is a way to turn this pandemic into a capacity for future rebirth and renewal if enough of us put our energy and resources into it.
Onward, fellow humans.
Join us in the Earth Regenerators study group to do this. Yes, I am serious.