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Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest. Investments through Green Angel Ventures are high-risk, and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong. Take 2 mins to learn more

Don't invest unless you're prepared to lose all the money you invest. Investments through Green Angel Ventures are high-risk, and you are unlikely to be protected if something goes wrong. Take 2 mins to learn more

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A Tactic for Happiness

08 March 2024

Nick Lyth, 8th March 2024

Here is my suggestion for a foolproof tactic which may surprise you: invest in early stage companies innovating with new technologies to reduce climate change. This sounds unlikely, doesn’t it? But as a downpayment on a feeling of warmth and satisfaction to carry you through your day, it is hard to beat.

It gives you the hope of gain. This in itself lifts the spirit. The company might be a success and make you money. In fact, early stage investment can provide you with huge multiples in return for your investment, precisely because it is at an early stage in the infancy of a company which may later grow up to be a giant. It can also lose you everything you invest, unlike almost any other investment, but you invest with hope of the former.

It gives you the hope of another kind of gain, the help the company’s technology might provide to the development of the new systems required to make life safe for future generations on the planet, our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

It gives you insurance hedging against the risk of climate change.It has the potential, if successful, of helping to reduce carbon emissions, which are the source of climate change.  The carbon concentrations in the atmosphere are what help to determine global temperature, as they are largely responsible for regulating the passage of the sun’s rays as they are reflected back away from Earth. Global warming is happening because carbon concentrations have recently increased to abnormal levels in the history of human life on Earth, which is believed to be the consequence of carbon emissions caused by our reckless use of carbon intensive industrial mass-produced goods and machinery, from foodstuffs to automobiles. Too much heat is being retained within the planet’s atmosphere.  

Your investments in early stage companies innovating with new technologies to reduce climate change will help to reduce the emissions causing the warming effect.

In other words, investing makes you happy because it feels as if you are taking active steps to protect yourself from the risks that threaten your world, in the truest sense – the risks that you see around you now all the time to your much-loved, and familiar environment. I mean the country we see around us. The landscapes of our lives. Once or twice a month, I take the train from my home in Edinburgh to London, and return a day or so later.  From the train window, I now regularly see water-logged fields, which, for the 30 years I have been doing this journey, have previously always been dry. I see stands of trees that have been overthrown by gales, stands of trees that are sometimes centuries old. I see cliffs gradually being eroded towards the railway line itself.

These are the visible manifestations of the changes which threaten us directly. I, and my fellow passengers, are carried through this modern landscape at high speed, without ever drawing attention to these changes. I sometimes wonder whether we are trying to pretend to ourselves that they are not happening, that nothing has changed, that they are just another part of normal life. It seems as if we are oblivious to what we are witnessing.

I recently read something that provides a good explanation for this phenomenon. It talked of a concept called Habituation. It is strikingly simple, and obvious. When we become habituated to something, we stop noticing it as anything unusual. The article discussing this used research into pollution, and our perceptions of pollution. The research asked people to rank pollution levels in different environments, contrasting the levels from one extreme to another. Those living in areas of high pollution classified as normal those highly polluted environments resembling their own life circumstances. Those living in areas of low pollution classified the areas of high pollution as unacceptable and dangerous.

We become habituated to threat, to danger, even to direct danger to ourselves. Anecdotal evidence of horrific events like the London Blitz, or life in the trenches, reveals the same thing. Human psychology makes enormous adjustments to accommodate what might seem to be intolerable threats to safety and healthy survival.

The answer to Habituation, from the Blitz to pollution, is Hope. Hope offers the antidote, the expectation that something might change, something might improve. It nearly always does, the questions are always when? And for the better or for the worse, from our point of view?  We always live in hope that it will be soon, and for the better. Today, I heard news that the global average temperature for February 2024 shows a steady 1.77 degrees above pre-industrial temperature levels, easily beating the red line we set at 1.5 for the first time on record. This can only strike fear in all our hearts that the change we are experiencing is making our world a worse place.  

But sitting in my garden with a cup of coffee in the early March sunshine, with the cat and dog playing with each other under my feet, and the daffodils and crocuses in bloom around me, I feel comfortable and optimistic. I feel hope. I have personally invested in more than half of the 44 companies in our portfolio. I have hope that these companies can succeed. I have hope that their success can affect climate change. I have hope that climate change will be reversed. But none of these things is certain.

And so the looming threat brought by climate change does not go away. This can be understood in the context of risk, when we accept that all life is risk.  We are calibrated to live with risk, to accept it as always present, to know that it can overturn our entire lives. And does.  And that this can bring both good and bad. My wife fell down the stairs, which was bad. She did not break anything, which was good. My father died in the first weeks of the Pandemic, which was bad.  He avoided the trauma caused by the Pandemic to everyone in his care home, which was good.  Our roof lost a slate in the gales, which was bad. The century old structure held firm in every other respect, which was good.

These are all descriptions of risk. Risk is not only a part of life, it is life.  It’s not something to be avoided. We calculate risk every day, every hour, every minute, without thinking, calibrating and flexing our decisions unconsciously. Step by step. I walk our dog most mornings in Warriston Cemetery, a famous Victorian Edinburgh cemetery. There, among the ruined memento mori, lie the remains of people just like you and me, people who have lived with their own hopes and fears, just as we do.

Climate Change brings us a new set of risks that seem to us to be out of our control. So when we have the chance to invest in technologies that will help to bring it under control, this chance should be seized with both hands. It is another chance that is filled with risk – will it work, will it succeed, will it return my money, will it provide a return in the fight against climate change? This risk will make us happy because it comes with so much more than financial gain. It comes with the promise to protect the wonderful landscape of the countries of our world. It comes with the promise to protect us.

 

Image by John Towner on Unsplash.