Humanity’s strive for economic growth fueled by carbon-based energy sources has led to the warmest 5-year period on record according to a recent report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Our planet’s atmosphere is reaching record high greenhouse gas concentrations and there are no signs of these trends slowing down. It’s becoming clear that major actions are required to avoid an impending crisis.
There are many theories regarding the best way to deliver peaceful social and political change. Most can be grouped into one of the following categories:
- Petitioners: march / lobby / strike for change. Assumption: governments hold all the power, change can only happen through law reform.
- Localists: anti-government collectives, hyper-local, opt out of the system, work to create local islands of change, build small cooperatives & micro-economies. Eventually connect these into a larger global movement.
- Self-helpers: “if you want to change the world, start by changing yourself.” Variations include Naval Ravikant, Jordan Peterson, and some world religions also fit in here (where it’s about each individual’s own internal battle against evil / sin / temptation).
- Paradigm shifters: the world evolves slowly then all at once, radical change only comes once a new system is in place to take over from the old (broken) one
Change can and does come from each of these strategies (to different degrees, of course!). They are all useful in their own way. But in this time of climate catastrophe, where urgent action is required, the real challenge is to ensure that the efforts of all these strategies can be channelled so that they can mutually reinforce each other. In this post, we argue that the Regen Network can act as the coordination mechanism to align all of these efforts.
The Regen Network
It’s worth noting that the Regen Network didn’t spontaneously arise. It builds on an existing global movement whose origins can be traced back to crypto-anarchism of the late-eighties and early nineties. More recently the thinking behind crypto-anarchism was reborn in communities that formed around the Bitcoin project, particularly with the ideas that led to Ethereum in late 2013. Regen Network is built using technologies from the Cosmos and Tendermint ecosystem, which are grounded in the vision brought forth by Ethereum. There are now tens of thousands (maybe even hundreds of thousands) of developers across the globe working to build out a new internet that is sometimes called Web3 or the decentralized web.
The Web3 philosophy is based on the sovereignty of the individual as a route to political and economic freedom. Projects like Ethereum and Cosmos are also built around ideas of community, where sovereign individuals can achieve their goals by working together with others. This results in new forms of economic interactions mediated by smart contracts, new financial mechanisms (“DeFi”), new social structures (Decentralized Autonomous Organizations or DAOs), new models of democracy and governance, new forms of property rights, etc.
The Regen Network vision starts with the question: what if we could reliably measure the health of every inch of the planet? If we could, then we would notice when things got better or worse in any locality. We could know when soil health improves, when wildlife is reintroduced, when land use is diversified, when water quality improves, when forests are expanded etc. Once we know these things, we can use this information to create incentives rewarding anyone who can make a positive change. This is where capital comes in. Governments, corporations, citizens and communities all have a vested interest in helping to solve this problem. So Regen looks to attract investment capital from those who desperately need to see the problem solved (all of us!) and channel it to the projects that can have the most impact. Various sensors, satellite imagery, drones, data analytics and AI, etc. are used to verify the ecological data. Blockchains provide an open, transparent record of this data and how funds are being spent. The Regen Network is a shared commons: it is owned and operated by the Regen community.
The Regen Network gives us the one thing we are missing right now: trust. We can trust that change is happening as the data is verified at source and recorded on the blockchain. We can trust that the people that are making it happen are getting rewarded appropriately, as smart contracts set the rules regarding how and when people get paid. We can trust that the network cannot be taken over by vested interests, as the governance rules of the system are clear and transparent.
Let’s look at the how Regen fits into the categories of change introduced at the start of this post:
Petitioners are fearless warriors but they face two big challenges: complexity and an aversion to markets. Petitioners typically rely on governments to effect change. But this time governments don’t know how to fix the problem without the wheels coming off the global economy. The solutions required are too complex for any one government to solve and the global systems to manage this (G20, IMF, World Bank, UN) are not equipped to take on the challenge. A failed top-down attempt to reconfigure the global economy could easily slide into global conflict.
So what tools do we have to manage complexity? It turns out we already have a coordination mechanism that has been proven to work on a global scale. It takes inputs from every actor in the system and aggregates that raw data into usable information that is used to make informed decision making. It has enabled sustained growth in human well-being over centuries. This mechanism is called a market.
Unfortunately, petitioners don’t trust markets as they tend to get co-opted by vested interests. Luckily, we now have a solution to this: blockchain technology. The Regen Network uses blockchain technology to build market-mechanisms that are resistant to co-option. These networks are owned and governed by the community. They are carefully designed to avoid attacks by powerful players.
The Regen Network also provides a way for governments to play their part to enable a robust solution to the problem. Governments can’t solve the problem alone, but they can certainly provide funding, supporting infrastructure, regulatory assistance, and rally their citizens behind these efforts.
Localists are the doers. They work hard to get things done. They find solutions that work on a local level. They share these ideas across the Internet with others. Their model has also proved to be effective.
But it’s too slow for what we need right now. And because they haven’t been able to get access to capital, they haven’t been able to scale their ideas.
The decentralized nature of the Regen Network aligns well with the localist approach. With Regen you don’t need to get permission to act. You just need to prove that what you are doing is effective. This aligns well with localists, who are naturally results-focused.
Regen can add value by routing capital to the most effective localists and by providing a mechanism to quickly spread proven models across the globe.
Self-helpers need purpose. They need a mission. They want to build a better life for themselves and those around them. Yes, that includes a safe planet to live in. But they also want a comfortable life for them and their families. A purpose with no income is a life sentence of poverty. So they need purpose that also gives them opportunities to create wealth.
To date all we’ve heard about climate change is that it will cost us. We have to travel less, eat less meat, buy less goods, spend time recycling… It’s all cost and no rewards.
Regen is looking to change that. People should get paid for the value they create. And saving the planet is valuable for all of us. The people who are provably contributing to ecological well-being should be generously rewarded.
The paradigm shift model was proposed by Thomas Kuhn to explain changes in scientific interpretations in the world. The basic idea is that science resists new ideas, until at some point the old interpretation becomes untenable and a sudden and fundamental change occurs. The classic example is the shift from the geo-centric model of the solar system to the heliocentric model of Copernicus.
It is possible that a similar phenomenon is happening with public blockchains, where a new alternative economic and political model is evolving in parallel to our existing social structures. For some people, the old system cannot be reformed. It is destined to lead us to dire ecological consequences. They argue that the only way forward is to build a parallel economic model that can step in to take over from the existing system before it’s too late. In this view, the world will shift over to Web3 once the technology is ready.
Regen Network is one of the most promising projects that delivers on this Web3 vision. For those who believe the current system is doomed, Regen gives them hope and a viable way to contribute to solving climate change.
But you don’t have to be a paradigm-shifter to believe in the Regen vision. For those who think the solution is a pragmatic mix of the existing system with some ideas from Web3, then Regen can also fulfil their needs.
Bringing It All Together
A solution that can align these groups needs to have the following:
- a credible vision (a prerequisite for governments & corporations)
- a clear set of steps for each individual to take (for those who already have a deep desire to fix the problem)
- a way to align wealth creation with a sense of purpose
- a mechanism to route capital from governments, corporations, philanthropists to entrepreneurs, farmers, community organizers, auditors etc.
The Regen Network has all of the above. They have a viable, credible and pragmatic vision. Regen Network (once it’s fully operational) will show us all a very clear path to contribute in whatever way we can (time, effort, money, education, etc.) Saving the planet gives us all a sense of purpose. Regen channels this purpose into ecological improvement.
You can think of Regen Network as an ecological commitments network. Just like the electricity grid moves electrical power to where it’s needed, their ecological commitments network acts like a grid to route money and effort to where it can have the maximum ecological impact. People plug into the grid. They commit to doing some work that contributes to our ecological well-being. The grid matches them with people who are willing to pay for that task. A binding contract is agreed. Other entities commit to act as auditors. They confirm that commitments were delivered upon by providing proof (e.g. satellite imagery, sensor data). When commitments are verified, the people performing the work are paid.
The solution is powered by blockchain technology, which provides three key enablers that we didn’t have before:
- a tamper-proof ledger of commitments and their status
- a mechanism to escrow funds without a trusted third party
- a mechanism to unlock and automatically transfer these funds when a task has been verified
A Psychological Hurdle To Jump
The biggest challenge for the Regen Network to overcome is prejudice within the activist community against market-based approaches to solving the climate crisis.
For a long time, capital has been a dirty word in social activism. For some, money is the fuel of the corruption that protestors have spent decades fighting against. Some contend that the desire to financialize everything has destroyed communities, cultures and the planet. But it’s time to let go of that notion. Capital is not the enemy. Markets are not the enemy. Capital and markets are the solution.
The problem with markets to date is that they were often co-opted to serve the needs of corporations. The rules were crafted to ensure favourable outcomes to those who controlled them. Blockchain networks have changed that. Now anyone can design a market. Anyone can invent their own incentives mechanism and build it in a few lines of code. People can opt into the market mechanism that they believe are the most effective at enabling the change they want to see in the world. This is a profound transformation in the global power structure that the activist community should embrace.
Multi-Trillion Dollar Economy
Regen’s vision is to use these new capabilities to build markets based on provable ecological outputs. Avoiding climate catastrophe is a multi-trillion dollar problem. We need a big ambitious vision that can scale. We need a model that can align all stakeholders.
It must channel the energies of the petitioners who can build awareness and spread the word. They can march, lobby, strike to get governments to provide financing for Regen-based projects. Self-helpers will find their life’s purpose and a meaningful way to build wealth for them and their families. These will be the entrepreneurs and individual contributors, the farmers, the data scientists, the IoT experts, the people building AI for analyzing satellite imagery. Localists can plug into the grid and get paid for the work they are doing. They can share this knowledge with other communities across the globe. For sure, some people will only focus on their ability to make money. That could be a global corporation or a poor farmer in sub-Saharan Africa. The Regen Network doesn’t filter people out based on their motivations. The incentives structure and blockchain-enforced rules will ensure that only legitimate activities improving ecological health will be rewarded. People, tools and technology will work together to prevent fraud, scams and collusion.
This is a crisis. It needs urgency. It needs everyone to work together. Regen Network is building the grid that aligns all these efforts at effecting change, and channels them into effective ecological action.
Check out https://regen.network for more information on how you can help.
Regen are currently raising additional funding. If you are a VC, crypto investor or accredited investor, then please visit this page or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Chorus One is currently running a validator on Regen’s testnet and will offer staking services on the upcoming Regen Network mainnet. We have partnered with the team building the Regen Network to help fulfill their vision and will own and stake XRN tokens.