Free money for good things #2: What if money did grow on trees?

In a previous post I talked about an imaginary kind of decaying money that gets created when people do good things, but I didn’t mention that another motivation for thinking about such a thing was to find a way to incentivise caring for nature.

Of all the ways to create money, we do most of it when someone borrows money (over 90% of money in Australia is created this way – the money in your bank account is just a promise from the bank to pay you that much and isn’t backed up by cash), so the amount of money in the economy is a reflection of the willingness of people to borrow and banks to lend.

What if instead, the amount of money in the economy was a reflection of the health of our ecosystems? Imagine if you’d get paid to do nothing with your land because you land was contributing enormous value in its natural state? Would Brazil be clearing the Amazon if they could earn more by looking after it?

I’m not saying this alternative would be perfect and not require any tinkering, but I don’t think it would be hard to find something better than what we have now – where there is no link between the money we are allowed to spend and the impact we are having on ecosystems (and on the ability of our economy and society to exist in the longterm).


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