Do-Gooder's Guide to Investing - Early Reader Snippet 1

System Change is Coming to Town

I’ve always been fascinated by systems.
    How an entire organism, or society functions. How a small change here can cause change there.
    Systems are everywhere. A human body. A small city. An entire country or a global society. We have education systems, financial  systems, food systems.

The body is a great example of a complex system. At its basic living level, it is organized into tiny systems called cells. 37 trillion of them. Those cells combine to make organs. Organs run larger systems, like your circulatory system, nervous system, or reproductive system.


    Change one cell and you change the entire system. In fact, your cells are changing every moment.  By the time you finish reading this sentence, 50 million of your cells will have died and been replaced by others. You might look the same on the outside, but you are intrinsically different.
    However, if you change enough cells you’ll actually see a difference.
Systems are more than a sum of their parts. They are an interaction of their parts, a synergy unreplicable by mere parts alone.
    A single cell can’t manage the complexity of an entire body, but together they can run an organ; organs together can manage a complex body.
    The synergy of 37 trillion individual cells is so powerful that we’ve been able to land on the moon and create epic new worlds like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.

But systems are also stubborn.
    Like donkeys.
    Donkeys don’t really move until they want to.
    That is, unless a hornet stings its ass. Then, a donkey will jump a fence like a gazelle.

Say hello to inertia.
    The nature of large systems is to lumber on. It will not intrinsically initiate change. Some people think systems resist change. This isn’t quite true. They don’t resist change. The actions acting on the system aren’t large enough to cause change. Each little cell in our body is working the daily grind, making energy or filtering blood, not worrying about the system at large.
    If systems don’t initiate change, where does the change happen? As chaos theory and modern physics suggest, it turns out that tiny forces deep within a system are the harbingers for change. A single component can trigger change in other components.
    A pocket of low pressure air seeds a tornado.
    A cancer cell throws a healthy human body into disarray.
    A crack in the snow sets off an avalanche.  
    A speech triggers a revolution.

It turns out that a small change, like a cancer cell, creates a domino effect of change. It influences other cells, causing a chain reaction that eventually causes an entire system to change.
    We know from existential philosophy to quantum mechanics that if we can trigger enough small changes in a system we can influence its direction.

I tell you this because you need to know that we are the hornets that will set fire to the donkey’s ass.

Sustainable investing is a fierce sting. As we work to align Wealth and Human Values we are sinking our stingers deeper into the flesh of our outdated systems. Soon, inertia won’t be possible.

The Cusp of Transformation

We are on the cusp of transformation.

The proverbial boulder has been pushed up the hill. Millions of changemakers and activists and Everyday Do-Gooders have been pushing for hundreds of years. Ghandi, Mandela, Carson, Lovins, King, and millions more.
    Today, hundreds of millions of people just like you are pushing to tip that boulder over the top.  

As you read this, a 24-year-old and his team at the Ocean Clean Up are deploying new technology to clean up the oceans. He was 18 when he launched the project.

A small drone is delivering blood to patients in rural Rwanda.

AIR-INK is capturing deadly air pollution and turning it into high-quality ink for pens.[1]

Name a challenge. Someone is out there working to solve it.

Humanity is rubbing its bleary eyes as it wakes up to its full potential. The best and the brightest are setting their sights on the existential problems facing our species and our planet.

In the coming chapters you’ll learn how to use your money to do the same.

[1] Air pollution was linked to 6.5 million deaths in 2015.


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adrian reif