Planetary Systems Need Us to Be Smarter

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2020 New Year’s Letter

from Geoversiv’s Founder


Dear Friends,

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, Geoversiv aims to reiterate the importance of embracing complexity, committing to critical thinking, and supporting the spread of creative collaborative innovation for social good and the health and wellbeing of people and planetary systems.

In 2019, we supported breakthroughs in:

  1. the development of climate-smart finance integrating Earth science data (Resilience Intel + DECIDE),
  2. the mapping of whole-Earth active-value economy knowledge relationships (WEAVE),
  3. upstream investment in ocean health and resilience (OceanSmart.org),
  4. the design of new advanced materials for both clean energy production and energy flow management (Liberate Energy),
  5. and communication of the emerging Earth-systems intelligence narrative (Earth Intelligence).

We also worked to support expansion of civic awareness and engagement, and the protection of universal rights, through support for:

  1. climate-related participatory civics (Engage4Climate), and
  2. critical reporting on the life of republican democracy (Democracy Witness).

The clean finance imperative

Geoversiv support for the Resilience Intel initiative scaled up throughout 2019. Resilience Intel released its first climate-smart finance aggregation totals in April 2019, updating them again in May, and again in October. Bloomberg reported the Resilience Intel aggregate of $5.48 trillion in November.

As we move into 2020, Resilience Intel is preparing to release yet another significant increase in the aggregate ($6.08T). This number represents total commitments of finance to climate-smart priorities made since 2011, and extending out to 2030. The total committed expanded by 71% in 2019 alone, from $3.56 trillion to $6.08 trillion.

Science makes clear we must transition away from investments that actively destroy value embedded in the stable climate system, the health and resilience of wildlife, ecosystems, agricultural land, the ocean and the cryosphere.

Outlining the opportunities inherent in the shift to 100% climate-smart finance is a Geoversiv mission imperative in 2020.


Planetary systems need us to be smarter

We cannot know our world, or the situational dynamics that will affect what is possible for us, if we do not pay attention to the science of Earth systems. We need to build Earth-systems intelligence in order to make the smartest possible decisions about how to achieve sustainable future prosperity.

The two major IPCC special reports of 2019—on Land Use and on the Ocean and Cryosphere—made clear the value of improving interactions between glaciers, watersheds, and the ocean. Geoversiv work on ocean-smart investing and macro-critical resilience focuses on doing right by those natural systems.

At Geoversiv, we call the work of integrating science insights into finance and decision-making data frontier work. We are expanding our experience of the world as it is, and then building new insights to help us adapt to the rapidly accelerating all-systems change that is coming to define our world.

In 2020, we will invest our time, energy, and coalition resources in expanding the role of science in decision-making, by supporting:

  1. Development of the DECIDE system for integrated active climate intelligence modeling,
  2. Development of the Resilience Intel system for connecting these insights to finance and assessing the resilience-building value of all money,
  3. Development of the Liberate Energy Science community and its work to achieve advanced materials with unprecedented energy capture and management capabilities, and
  4. The Earth Intelligence platform — an online magazine, a series of in-person roundtables, and a podcast delivering news about natural systems and sustainable innovation.

The business of decentralizing power systems

The climate-smart transformation of the world economy will also entail multifaceted transformation of everyday experience. The most successful business systems will be those that empower individuals to live better, while understanding and managing their world more effectively.

One of the defining traits of the clean tech transformation will be that we will finally succeed in transcending the uncomfortable question of whether opening critical institutions to more eyes, ears, voices, and local interests, will create more order or more chaos.

The simple truth is this: the more connections you have to what drives the future of sustainable energy systems, the better positioned you are to do well in the future.

Decentralization of energy production, at the scale and speed required to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown, will bring with it:

  • decentralization of knowledge-generation,
  • decentralization of technological innovation,
  • decentralization of financial resources and benefits, and
  • decentralization of decision-making power and influence.

How we talk about the future matters

All people are climate stakeholders. This principle is fundamental: without acknowledging that all people are stakeholders, with rights and voices, and decision-making capability, we mislead ourselves about the life of our biosphere. We need more transparency and accountability—not less—or we will be harmed by under-informed decisions taken by unaccountable institutions.

On the one hand, the future will be shaped by integrated data systems; on the other, it must also be defined by a spreading recognition of the rights, dignity, and potential, of every human being, everywhere. We are not succeeding at sustainability, if we are not empowering everyone to find and to act on their best thinking.

  • We must have better protection of human rights, if we are to achieve sustainable prosperity. For this reason, we support the Democracy Witness effort — our most editorializing and subjective intervention in the public discourse.
  • We must provide structured strategies for stakeholders everywhere, at all levels, to engage with high-level decision-makers. For this reason, we support the Engage4Climate Toolkit for local stakeholder meetings.
  • Such efforts will give structure and rootedness to complex multilevel collaborations like the Resilience Intel climate-smart finance initiative. Geoversiv is committed to ensuring local and sectoral knowledge exchange networks support this transformational work, and is getting started with building them out this year.
  • Finally, we need to shape the sustainability discussion going forward around an integrated understanding of all of the above. It is for this reason, we are launching Earth Intelligence, to tell the story with no-nonsense optimism, through the Geoversiv lens.

Sun Tzu warned that we must know the terrain, in order to succeed against unforeseen threats and security risks. Science tells us that natural systems are facing serious risk of collapse. Our mission is to deliver the news, innovations, and engagement opportunities, to chart a better way forward.

Thank you for all you do to make the world smarter, more sustainable, and more just. We recognize the year 2020 as a critical decision-point in the evolution of sustainable systems, so we will use it to expand the terrain for Earth-systems intelligence and inclusive innovation.

Happy New Year, and onward!

Joseph Robertson
Founder and President