My recommendations for middle and upper class people to prepare for climate change (in Europe or the US):
- Buy cheap land in the South of Europe for energy production using Solar energy, preferably in East Europe (you can partner with energy companies to finance the Solar panels)
- Buy land in Africa for natural resources, especially with water access and test drillings that validate the occurence of resources
- Buy cheap farmable land in Norway, Denmark or the North of Canada
- Use the tax system of Canada or Cyprus for advantageous tax treatments
- Get access to food and water supply (with water filtration) that lasts a minimum of 5-10 years
This land can be obtained for a total investment of around $10k per ha in each country i.e. around $30-50k for 30.000-50.000m2. For each person in your family, you should buy a minimum of one hectare for proper support. These prices will increase in the coming years because foreign capital is fleeing from volatile markets into these investments.
The best action is to protest for systematic climate action and prepare yourself and your family for climate change because you'll be affected (even if indirectly) by inflation and rising prices.
tl;dr Current abundance is not guaranteed in the future and current climate (economically and ecologically) is uncertain and having backup locations and a reasonable backup plan in place is advisable for families who want to provide and protect their children. Putting parts of your wealth into buying security instead of hoping for further growth in stocks or other assets. It's a good idea to not see it as an investment (as land often takes a hit in valuation in recessions), but as an insurance. One major use of the land is to live there for extended periods of time in case of rising instability. In case you can profit from the current economy, this might not seem important, but being able to survive economically for 3 years or just being able to reduce living costs drastically or rent out your city apartment can decide if you can retain ownership of your assets. Prepping is not for doomsday scenarios, it's to serve your debt and maintain wealth in high interest rates environments to secure assets.
Links for research
Here are some links for your research:
- Actions you can take as a technologist: What can a technologist do about climate change
- Best Places to Live to Avoid Climate Change in 2023
- The Science of Climate Change Explained
- UN Warns Climate Change Is Driving Global Hunger
- Where should I move to be safe from climate change?
- The climate disaster is here
- Do Climate Migrants Have Legal Protections?
- Why rich people use so much more energy
What might happen
The following things are starting to happen right now and will become more problematic in the coming decades:
- People will compete for water and desalination will be common in many parts of the world which will make food production more expensive
- Water-intense processes will be highly valuable, the agriculture and energy production industry are the most important consumers of freshwater
- Sea levels will rise and a lot of cities will be affected
- Living in big cities will be unattractive - renting is a good choice because the capital can be deployed much more effectively when buying land instead (only luxury real estate should be considered in big cities because rich people will be less affected by inflationary prices)
- South of Europe will be 35°C+ for a lot of days and it will get unbearable hot for longer periods of time in the future e.g. in the Algarve
- There will be climate migration because the temperatures are unbearable to live and sustain people
- Countries like Greenland will be able to extract natural resources previously unavailable for extraction
- Most developed countries will deal with high inflation and stagflation that will hinder the middle class people from saving for their retirements
- Global birth rates are declining in developed countries which affects their pension systems
- Nigeria and India will be booming while the North of Europe, US and China (due to the one child policy) will struggle with older populations
- AI automation will take away the leverage that most people in the middle class rely on to achieve their lifestyle (education)
Why focus on these investments?
The reason why these investments are becoming necessary is that we will not be able to incentivize humankind to act responsible and in a timely manner. To focus on helping people, it is important to be safe and secure yourself and having a safe haven for your family. This makes it easier to help people authentically without getting existential fears yourself. It's highly stressful to be hit by climate change effects yourself and having no optimistic outlook for your own children. After these investments are done, there is no existential fear for the survival of your family which makes it easier to act morally and ethical.
I don't think it makes sense to focus on climate change as a general discussion of politics after these investments and more sense to focus on the technologies and societal changes required to implement the changes I describe in Solving Poverty. Reason being that climate change will not be "solved", it will be distributed. And it will be distributed unevenly and unfairly. Instead of fighting for a just world which is a lofty goal but unfortunately highly unrealistic, it is better to increase leverage for poor countries and poor families. With this leverage, people are able to negotiate a better and more secure lifestyle themselves and maybe also afford a better and less corrupt government.
A Strategy for Cutting Down on Consumption
For the most effective transformation of current emissions, it is best for countries to invest in heat, electricity and car/plane efficiency innovation. This will be the basis of it all, but still, there is another thing to consider, especially for private sectors: luxury consumption.
Electrification will reduce carbon emissions in the biggest category of energy intensive spending done by everyone (heat and electricity), and the biggest category of energy intensive spending done by the upper income (vehicle fuel).
The only way to decarbonize many of the most energy intensive goods and services fast enough is for wealthy people to change their behavior and consume less of them.
For this to work, luxury brands will need to establish social status signals that signal wealth in a sustainable and ecological manner. I don't think it's possible to remove status symbols from wealthy people especially with hedonistic impulses that are fueled by social media and comparison. Profit margins of luxury brands are markups that are reinvested in marketing and building their brand. Forcing companies to reinvest a share of revenue into sustainability with a proper supply chain management and monitoring that ensures a better sourcing, this will become a part of the overall strategy. This is a chance for brands to position themselves in the luxury market. Usually, the most comfortable and luxurious solution wins in the luxury segment. The businesses that transform plane rides, luxury cars and acommodation with a focus on sustainability and luxury will win this market and help to better the world more effectively. Social engineering to transform current luxury consumption by building brands based on scarcity of products and access while using sustainable materials and low carbon footprints will be a top priority to change the current trajectory of climate change.
The fastest way for that to happen is to establish these moral values in the existing social events of high net-worth individuals:
- Bring sustainability concepts to high-profile festivals like Coachella and Burning Man
- High-profile influencers and celebrities that shape the trends of the masses to adopt luxury brands that focus on climate change action
- Enforce sustainability concepts in luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and other mass-market luxury brands
- Enforce carbon taxes on new consumption especially in sectors like fast fashion and promote use of second hand markets for clothing by branding them as high-end
Newly rich people still need luxury items to signal wealth to themselves and fellow members of society to increase their social capital. The trend will shift from conspicuous consumption to conscious consumption with high-price eco-friendly brands. Currently, there are no well-known brands except Tesla that embody these environment-friendly values while also enable the social signalling of conventional material success that brands like Louis Vuitton and Rolex offer. This is a chance for new companies to disrupt current luxury consumption in clothing, air travel, jewellery, accessoires like watches, and everyday consumption.
What does that mean for you? Letting go of materialistic status symbols and certain luxuries like private jet flights and high emission sports cars is the best way to reduce your footprint. By flying first class instead of flying private jet and renting sports cars only when using them e.g. for a racing event and using a small vehicle instead of an SUV or truck in everyday life is overall a better choice for the world and future generations.
But generally, what will be needed is a way to tax people on their consumption while not disadvantage small consumers with low to middle incomes. Whichever government comes up with a structure that is fair for low and high income earners and wealth levels will pioneer the future climate politics. Most high earners are okay with paying higher prices for offsetting carbon emission because the status symbol is used in comparison to other wealthy people - if they all pay the same, the status signalling of the item is not affected and could even increase the perceived value of the item. Realistically, right-wing and nationalistic politics will dominate in the coming years because of economic stagnation and these topics won't be a focus of the voters, but they will matter for the severity of climate change.
And realistically, luxury consumption with high carbon footprint will not stop. Collective action will be needed, but I still recommend buying land in the North as a backup plan, especially if you have children. We will enter a zero-sum game unless we can work together as nation states or revolutionize the idea of states (which would mean revolution). I think it's best to save yourself using individual investments and apply collective pressure for decarbonization of power and transportation. Because the standard of living required for controlling climate change will be less than current middle class and people will not give that up voluntarily.