Crypto may be entering a new phase of slower evolution, with more emphasis on utility and long term value vs hype. If so it represents a critical opportunity to design for equity and move toward achieving a healthy wealthy world.
Why it matters
The phrase "Environmental Justice" (EJ) refers to the work of ensuring that ALL individuals live in healthy thriving communities safe from environmental hazards. Sadly much work remains, as evidenced by well researched examples in Michigan, California, Illinois, North Carolina (PDF) and Louisiana (PDF: see Ch6 for in depth analysis related to Katrina).
Each of these cases (and many others) reveal patterns in US urban planning that consistently result in people of color living close to environmental hazards - in disproportionately higher numbers. The patterns include practices like redlining (discriminatory mortgage appraisal practices used against neighborhoods of color) and doing too little too late to address environmental safety issues.
The concept of and need for Environmental Justice came to national consciousness in the 1980's largely due to the efforts of Dr Robert Bullard - today considered to be the Father of Environmental Justice.
The EPA has established a sound definition of Environmental Justice and a set of grants, a strategic plan (PDF), and best practices. The emphasis seems to be on assessing needs and enabling public participation in discussions. Not so much emphasis on concerted action - and the planning docs are dated (2006, 2014, etc).
Prospects for Change
Now a new generation is learning about environmental justice (see Solarpunk storytelling Tweet below) and some are already thinking about how Web3 capabilities might be able to help with environmental justice.
Here is a list of 18 Web3 Initiatives focused on environmental justice. One of my favorites is Rewilder, which coordinates the purchase of land for conservation. At the link scroll down to the section titled "The Dawn of Crypto Native Non-Profits" for a short list illustrating how non profit core competencies are being enabled via web3.
Another early stage example: the All for Climate DAO offers a glimpse of what a decentralized approach to coordinating and funding environmental initiatives might look like. This group uses opencollective to host its fundraising activities (aka fiscal hosting).
People are ready to contribute to climate action, but we also need people willing to contribute and work toward healthier safer communities. People need to come alongside communities in need and find ways to lift them up.
It will take more than just new technologies. New incentives are needed - incentives that align to and support the values we say we embrace today. Web3 innovators should explore how tokenization - creating a pool of value that uses a token (or coin) based approach to equitable participation in owning, governing and benefitting from that value. This concept is endemic to DAOs. (Note that it also is different from "data-tokenization.")
As we experiment and learn how to use the full capabilities of web3, it will be important to hold top of mind the question “how could we leverage this capability to enable more equity and move toward the achievement a healthy wealthy world - not just a healthy wealthy few???”
Solarpunk is "science fictions newest genre" and a design culture that envisions positive future outcomes where humanity successfully figures out how to live sustainably. It seems to be an attempt to move beyond the distopian pessimism and tell stories about crafting successful solutions to climate change and social issues. Goodreads has a list of Solarpunk books here. Below is a link to winners from a recent Solarpunk story writing contest with entries from children, teens and adults.
Crypto's Awkward Phase
Interest in BTC waning?
Bloomberg has noted an apparent reduction in Bitcoin trading volumes and associates this with the rising interest rates. Its a reasonable notion - after all the 2020-2021 heyday seemed to kick off with the publication of Paul Tudor Jones' thesis: monetary inflation (stimulus and low interest rates) made bitcoin a preferred investment. Now in 2022 - the narrative goes - the Fed is wide awake and determined to stop inflation, so naturally folks aren't as bullish on Bitcoin.
At the same time, policymakers and the press continue to draw and redraw conclusions about crypto. Case in point: Some are now comparing crypto innovation to the financial experimentation that led to the 2008 recession. This logic ignores the codependency of government and banking that enabled the housing bubble (what Michael Casey calls the “Warped distorted version of capitalism in which profits are privatized and losses are socialized.”) There is no similar codependent relationship in the case of crypto, but this notion that crypto might be a repeat of 2008 is compelling for some.
So - the narrative goes - not only are the authorities finally serious about inflation, they're also intent on preventing another 2008. So naturally - the narrative goes - folks aren't as bullish on Bitcoin.
Maybe. Maybe not.
Investor cohorts - when you started matters
First, I think it’s helpful to conceptualize the different classes of investors based on when they got into the market (and the price of Bitcoin was vs what it is today).
These are different cohorts who behave quite differently from each other. Investors who started in 2019 or earlier are in a very different place than investors who started in 2021 or 2022.
And it’s not just the price difference - it’s what you’ve lived through in that longer time span - the dramatic up and down swings.
- If you’ve seen your BTC holdings rise 10x or more you are probably content to hold what you have and make dollar cost average additional contributions.
- Those who have gotten in recently are (in my view) likely thinking longer term, and are planning to leverage dollar cost averaging over that longer term.
In either case, these behaviors probably won't drive volatility or rapid price increases.
Second, as noted last week companies investing in bitcoin are now navigating ESG concerns about energy consumption and will not likely be making the kind of splashy announcements that drove market excitement and price moves in 2020 and early 2021. They are continuing to invest. They just aren't bragging about it. And even if they did, its just not news anymore.
Commentators noted that the recent 2022 Bitcoin Conference in Miami was more subdued: more policy oriented and informational vs. the evangelistic anarchy vibe of the 2021 event.
A new chapter
So is the market losing interest in Bitcoin? Or is it just normalizing it in the pantheon of smart investment options? I think its probably closer to the latter.
This is what mass adoption and growing up feels like. Its what NLW calls Crypto's Liminal Phase - an in-between period when one thing has finished but the next hasn’t fully formed. "Crypto is no longer what it was, but is not yet what it is to become."
In other words, we're moving into a new chapter.
- In the previous chapter, demand was driving by FOMO - fear of missing out on outsized gains but with little understanding of utility.
- In the next chapter I think demand will be driven by the adoption of Web3 capabilities as their superior utility and efficiency becomes apparent.
It may take a while for this to happen. This is probably a time for being patient and taking the long view.
Tiny new frogs discovered in Mexico
Fascinating set of tiny frogs have been discovered - one so small it can sit on 1/4 of a dime (see photo in the article). An in-depth research paper on the frogs and their miniaturization has been published here on BioOne. BTW: BioOne is another excellent open resource for environmental science and biology research - browse their subject areas here.
Outdoor Lit for the Beach
Whether you hit the beach during spring break or summer (hopefully both), some part of you probably hopes to spend a dreamy afternoon reading on the beach. Here are a few great reads I own and treasure:
- Writing the Western Landscape is a collection of writings from both Mary Austin and John Muir - beautiful picturesque celebrations of the wilderness of the American West.
- From Laurel Hill to Siler's Bog is the 7 year nature journal of John Terres, the naturalist and former editor of Audubon, a rich chronicle of the flora and fauna of Mason Farm, the beloved biological preserve stewarded by University of North Caroliona.
- The Woods Stretched for Miles is a collection of nature essays and stories about the outdoor places and cultures of the South, written by 18 noted authors.
Links to low cost used copies of these books are provided below.
Opinions mine. Not financial advice. I may hold assets discussed.