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Emile Nijssen's Blog

Ecocredits, on how to use Capitalism to solve Global Warming

So far, it's not looking great for earth. We're using too much resources and as a result we're seeing temperatures rise, which leads to many problems.

Alas, I don't have to educate you on why it's bad. Instead, I'd like to talk about how we could solve it. And I'd like to use something we're all familiar with already.

Capitalism Works

Most countries in the world have adopted the capitalistic system because it works. As long as there is scarcity, whether it's time, material resources or manufacturing, a society will require something to distribute scarce things across people.

Capitalism itself makes sure companies compete for customers. Your product is either better or cheaper, or you die.

Companies are motivated to make cheaper, better products with less resources and time. It's a competitive system and we humans tend to love wars. Nowadays we've just replaced cannons with marketing and castles with big offices.

Money Works

We're currently using money as the common denominator. Time equals money, and money equals resources. And to make stuff, we need both time and resources.

Money works because trading money for a bread is a much better idea than trading a chicken for a bread, because money is much more divisible than a chicken.

The problem with money though, is that non-produtive members of society (I'm looking at you, Wall Street) who are unable to add value (e.g. bake a bread or build rockets), have designed games around money itself, to enrichen themselves. Money should be just a tool, but they made it a goal in itself. When that happened, that's where society ended and individualism began.

The result is that people that add little to no value to society still can end up with a lot of money. And therein lies the problem; we value money as a measure of what a person has contributed. But it only says something about what that person can buy.

Yet to buy stuff (e.g. a plane), stuff needs to be made. And making stuff takes up a lot of resources and time.

How other people sell their time is their own business, but the resources on earth are limited. It's the stupidity of our time to believe that a rich person has more right to earth's resources than a poor person. Yet we don't think twice about the extravagance lifestyle of celebrities, ceo's and the like. In fact, most are jealous of it and aspire to spend as much as they do.

The thing is, we're all born equal and your slice of pie earth should be as equal as anyone's else.

Money should be able to buy someone else's time, but not the earth's resources.

A new kind of money

Money can be transfered, and thus you can earn or lose money. It's a simple zero-sum game.

We need a new kind of money, that can't be transfered, can't be earned, can't be loaned, can't be lost. It can only be spent. And everyone gets an equal amount.

This money represents your slice of earth. You can spend it however you like, but once you've run out, you've run out.

The Ecocredit

Imagine a world where your government gives you 10.000 ecocredits a month. A what? An ecocredit. It's a non-transferable currency that lives next to your euros, dollars, yen etc. Maybe we can show your balance in an app. Or maybe we can link it to your ID card. Whatever, we're good with technology, we'll figure that out.

Imagine in this world you go out to a groceries store. Hmm, beef. Ouch, 1000 ecocredits ánd $3. Better go for veggie meat, while that's also $3, it's only 150 ecocredits. Maybe next week when you've made that deadline you'll buy that delicious beef to celebrate.

And you drive back in your diesel car, fuel up and spend another 1500 ecocredits. And $60.

Let the companies figure it out

At first, we'll feel limited by what we can buy. And that's exactly the point! We've been spoiled by our lifestyle at the expense of poorer people, and even worse, future generations. It can't go on like this.

"But I don't want to lose my lifestyle!", I hear you cry. Well, I have good news. We're humans, and we're damn smart at solving problems. We just need the right motivation to get our asses off the couch.

So let companies figure it out. The companies currently producing beef? Let them figure out a way to make it better for the environment. Because if they don't, they'll go bankrupt. Maybe they'll transition to plant-based beef where you couldn't tell the difference. There's surely a huge demand!

Car companies? Well, I guess they're all electric very soon. And by going all-in, economies of scale will make sure the dollar-price will stay low. Fossil fuel cars will receive an old-timer status and maybe will only be driven once a year by enthousiasts. Eating meat might become something you'll only do on your birthday.

I trust enough in capitalism that companies will compete with each other to make the most environment-friendly, low-cost products. Because it's the only way they can survive.

But, but, but…

It's just an idea, slow down! Great ideas take time to develop.

But aren't we going to see a black market for meat, planes and whatnot?

Yeah, probably. But it's all about the bigger picture.

But what if I'm out of ecocredits that month?

I hope you have a few great friends. Better luck next month.

But how are we going to determine the amount of ecocredits for a product?

I don't know. It probably won't be perfect, but we gotta start somewhere. Over time we'll get better at it.

But nobody is going to get this at first.

Maybe we can start with 100.000 ecocredits a month. Then slowly build down to 10.000 until we're used to it.

But can't I just ask a poor person to buy stuff for me?

I think that must be made illegal.


Do you really want to see the world burn because you wanted so badly to eat that one-kilogram-steak on your holiday in Thailand? Get to fucking work!

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