Okay, the title "The Future Could Not Be Clearer" is a bit of an overstatement. But when it comes to the economy, we don’t need a crystal ball to understand what is coming next. Rarely in history has there been a time when the greatest opportunity available has also been so obvious. People, groups and societies all wish to maintain and improve their standards of living. Yet the ecological underpinnings of the economy that would allow that to happen are at risk from legacy economic activities that we no longer need in order to maintain that standard of living. Seems like a paradox. But it's true, our practice of burning fossil fuels, which has turned out to be shockingly destructive, can now, reasonably, be replaced by other technologies in many areas, primarily led by renewables-to-electric ways of powering nearly everything we need. Similarly, our reckless and destructive depletion and methods of depletion of many natural resources can now be slowed dramatically, while not threatening our standard of living, primarily due to use of waste-to-value economics and methods.

Renewable energies and sustainable practices can now credibly be said to have the power to increase our standards of living since they provide far greater benefits for far less cost than their economic predecessors. Moreover, since fossil fuels are demonstrably destructive - to the point that their use threatens our society and its ecological underpinnings - arguments that continuing to expand their use somehow minimizes economic risks are nonsense on their face. On the contrary, it’s now clear that failing to reduce use of fossil fuels is among the riskiest things we can do.

Piecing together how the emerging sustainable economy might look turns out to be surprisingly simple, at least in principle. In each area of the economy, we need ask only two questions of each of the various ways of doing business:

  1. Is it notably less destructive to our economy’s ecological underpinnings than other methods of getting the same result?
  2. Can it be employed via a working, profitable business model that lifts the economy and provides employment?

If the answer to both is yes, there’s a good chance that we’ve identified a next economy business idea. Getting at the same things another way, we might ask of a business:

  1. Is it environmentally sustainable?
  2. Is it economically sustainable?

Different people will bring different standards of ‘sustainable’ to this way of defining the green economy, so there will be lots going on and a ton to learn as we piece together the next economy, but the principle, if not the execution, is not complicated. Ideas that lighten our footprint on global ecologies while simultaneously accelerating the world’s economy are emerging, they’re working, and they have every chance of radically altering our up-till-now recklessly destructive path.

So enough with economic prognosticating. It's time to smash the crystal ball, stop predicting and start positioning for the sustainable economy, “a global shift [Goldman Sachs] says is inevitable.” “Inevitable shifts and indispensable technologies,” our unofficial motto.

We’re not guessing. The transition is by now obvious, and the time is upon us.

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About The Author

Garvin Jabusch's picture

Garvin is the Chief Investment Officer for Green Alpha Advisors, where he leads investment research; conducts macroeconomic, scientific, and technological analysis; and develops and communicates the Next Economy investment approach.

Prior to co-founding Green Alpha with Jeremy Deems in 2007, Garvin had realized that traditional investment methods constrained the opportunity to have impact and achieve long-term competitive returns. How could he invest in the leaders of tomorrow’s sustainable economy if they were limited to an index of the carbon economy’s winners? Together with Jeremy, Garvin decided to throw out the rule book, found Green Alpha, and begin investing in the Next Economy—a method that aims to invest only in innovative solutions to system-level risks like climate change, never in their causes.

Garvin previously worked at Forward Management, LLC where he managed the Sierra Club Stock Fund and the Sierra Club Equity Income Fund.

Before Forward Management, Garvin served at Morgan Stanley as well as initiatives in research and analysis, trading, and mutual fund sales.

Earlier, Garvin studied in the Ph.D. program in physical anthropology and archaeology for five years at the University of Utah. Garvin was a field Director for the American Expedition to Petra, Jordan for two excavation seasons, and served as archaeologist and crew chief at many sites in the American West. Other jobs held by Garvin have included EMT and whitewater rafting guide.

Garvin holds an MBA in international management and finance from the American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird). His mix of business and science-intensive backgrounds brings knowledge of long-term systemic risk and societal collapse to portfolio management.

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