curiosity across disciplines

Biodiversity and trust funds

Trust funds are a surprisingly helpful concept for understanding biodiversity.

Spoiler: it’s all about the interest.

A not-uncommon way trust funds are set up is via a living trust, wherein the trustee, among other financial stipulations, “lives off the interest.”

In such a system, there’s a sizable-enough pool of resources that the amount needed for everyday life comes entirely from the interest dividends.

This creates a cushion.

If however, one spends at an unsustainable rate, they decrease the total value of the asset, inching closer to becoming one of us poors.

Incidentally, the earth piloted this program well before bankers, brokers, and bros boarded this fiduciary train.

The earth did it by both using and producing biodiversity. Poetically, there’s oodles of types of biodiversity, but in this case, we’re talking about ecological diversity.

In its simplest form, biodiversity is the engine that drives natural selection. And like interest, it’s cyclical. Biodiversity allows natural selection, and natural selection then produces more biodiversity.

It’s frickin’ beautiful.

Now, this cyclic preserving and replenishing lost biodiversity, an essential component of ecological systems, i.e., “nature,” is directly analogous to trust funds.

In the same way that bleeding principal from a trust fund is financially unsound, decimating global biodiversity at the unprecedented rate we are today is even stupider.

Biodiversity is not some happy byproduct that’s, oh, “nice to have.”

It’s essential.

It’s not hyperbole to say that Life, with-a-capital-L, is not possible without it.

And unfortunately, as a species, we humans are fast becoming one of the ecological poors. You could convincingly argue that we are the collective people with the least cents of ecological diversity. Ever.

Escalating climate emissions, unquestioned consumption, further fragmented wild spaces via haphazard residential and commercial development; all things crushing biodiversity and our connection with nature.

So, maybe, we should do something about that.

What, specifically? I don’t know! I’m not an expert, but here’s a few things that certainly won’t hurt.

Read a book. Give your lawn the middle finger. Donate. Tend a garden.

But, no matter what we do, we must remember that sustainability is about living off the interest, not the principal.