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The History of Psychedelics (Part 1 of 2)

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The following content is sponsored by Tryp Therapeutics.

The History of Psychedelics (Part 1 of 2)

Due to their counterculture connotations and rigid legal status, psychedelics were once considered a highly stigmatized topic.

Over the last decade however, a steady stream of groundbreaking research has proven that these powerful substances have the potential to safely treat a wide range of diseases.

Today, attitudes toward the industry have changed, and capital is flowing—resulting in a market that analysts predict could eventually be worth $100 billion.

The graphic above from Tryp Therapeutics is the first in a two-part series that explores how psychedelics have evolved over the last 6,000 years.

From Ancient Antidote to Breakthrough Medicine

Before we dive into the history of psychedelics, it’s important to understand what they are and how they work.

Psychedelics are drugs that alter cognitive processes and produce hallucinogenic effects. Broadly speaking, there are two categories that psychedelic substances fall into: entheogens, and synthetic drugs. Entheogenic psychedelics are derived from plants, while synthetic psychedelics are created in a laboratory.

Here are some of the most well known psychedelic substances explained:

history of psychedelics supplemental

Certain psychedelics work by binding to serotonin receptors in the brain which produces psychoactive effects. Research suggests that when this happens, the structure of the brain changes—such as the number of connections between neutrons. This means that psychedelics could have the potential to rewire or repair circuits in the brain, hence their reputation for having healing powers.

Ancient Times

While the science behind these mind-altering plants is only now beginning to become clear, they have in fact been used in rituals and ceremonies for thousands of years.

As a result, psychedelic substances have been hugely influential in shaping certain cultures and religions dating back to 4,000 BC. These cultures, particularly in the Americas, learned how to utilize psychoactive plants and mushrooms for medicinal purposes or to reach an altered state of consciousness.

YearMilestoneRegion
4000 BCFirst cave paintings of psilocybinEurope, North Africa
3780-3660 BCEvidence of ceremonial use of peyote by indigenous culturesNorth and South America
1300-1521 ADEvidence of the Aztecs consuming mushrooms which they referred to as the “flesh of the Gods”.Central America
1500 ADCatholic texts refer to peyote use as “witchcraft”.
Europe 

With that being said, evidence of how psychedelics were used in ancient times is often anecdotal, and therefore widely debated.

The Prohibition Era

In the 1800s, scientists and psychiatrists began discovering new kinds of drugs such as psilocybin and subsequently became advocates of psychedelic medicine. Unfortunately, uncontrolled drug use for recreational purposes led to governments across the world debating their legal status, and clamping down on restrictions.

YearMilestoneRegion
1897Arthur Heffter isolates mescaline from the peyote cactus for the first time.Germany
1901Jean Dybowsky and Edouard Landrin isolate ibogaine.
France
1912Anton Kollisch created MDMA as a by-product while trying to synthesize another substance.Germany
1938Albert Hofmann synthesizes LSD.Switzerland 
1958Albert Hofmann discovers psilocybin.
Switzerland 
1962Calvin Stevens synthesizes ketamine.
U.S.
1966California criminalizes the possession, sale, and manufacture of LSD.
U.S. 
1968Staggers-Dodd bill passes, making possession of psilocybin and other psychedelic substances illegal. 
U.S. 
1971The UN publishes the Convention on Psychotropic Substances stating that psychedelics including LSD, DMT, and MDMA are now controlled substances. Global 
1971The U.S. Controlled Substances Act comes into effect, moving most major psychedelic drugs to Schedule I status. 
U.S.
1971UK passes Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, placing controls on most known psychedelics.UK

Within decades, the recreational use of psychedelics undermined promising medical discoveries, and put the future of the industry into question, eventually triggering the War on Drugs.

An Industry, Reborn

With these strict legal changes around the world, the psychedelics industry became largely inactive. But today, an explosion of unprecedented research findings surrounding the therapeutic potential of psychedelics has triggered many countries to reassess their decision to criminalize.

Now, the industry is back, and bigger than ever before. In Part 2 of The History of Psychedelics, we’ll dive into The Psychedelics Renaissance the industry is currently experiencing and discuss the exciting future of this promising sector.

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Green Investing: How to Align Your Portfolio With the Paris Agreement

MSCI’s Climate Paris Aligned Indexes are designed to reduce risk exposure and capture green investing opportunities using 4 main objectives.

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Green Investing

Green Investing: The Paris Agreement and Your Portfolio

In Part 1 of the Paris Agreement series, we showed that the world is on track for 3.5 degrees Celsius global warming by 2100—far from the 1.5 degree goal. We also explained what could happen if the signing nations fall short, including annual economic losses of up to $400 billion in the United States.

How can you act on this information to implement a green investing strategy? This graphic from MSCI is part 2 of the series, and it explains how investors can align their investment portfolios with the Paris Agreement.

Alignment Through Indexing

When investors are building a portfolio, they typically choose to align their portfolio with benchmark indexes. For example, investors looking to build a global equity portfolio could align with the MSCI All Country World Index.

The same principle applies for climate-minded investors, who can benchmark against MSCI’s Climate Paris Aligned Indexes. These indexes are designed to reduce risk exposure and capture green investing opportunities using 4 main objectives.

1.5 Degree Alignment

The key element is determining if a company is aligned with 1.5 degree warming compared to pre-industrial levels. To accomplish this, data is collected on company climate targets, emissions data, and estimates of current and future green revenues. Then, the indexes include companies with a 10% year-on-year decarbonization rate to drive temperature alignment.

Green Opportunity

Environmentally-friendly companies may have promising potential. For instance, the global clean technology market is expected to grow from $285 billion in 2020 to $453 billion in 2027. The MSCI Climate Paris Aligned Indexes shift the weight of their constituents from “brown” companies that cause environmental damage to “green” companies providing sustainable solutions.

Transition Risk

Some companies are poorly positioned for the transition to a green economy, such as oil & gas businesses in the energy sector. In fact, a third of the current value of big oil & gas companies could evaporate if 1.5 degree alignment is aggressively pursued. To help manage this risk, the indexes aim to underweight high carbon emitters and lower their fossil fuel exposure.

Physical Risk

Climate change is causing more frequent and severe weather events such as flooding, droughts and storms. For example, direct damage from climate disasters has cost $1.3 trillion over the last decade. MSCI’s Climate Paris Aligned Indexes aim to reduce physical risks by at least 50% compared to traditional indexes by reducing exposure in high-risk regions.

Together, these four considerations support a net zero strategy, where all emissions produced are in balance with those taken out of the atmosphere.

Green Investing in Practice

Climate change is one of the top themes that investors would like to include in their portfolios. As investors work to build portfolios and measure performance, these sustainable indexes can serve as a critical reference point.

Available for both equity and fixed income portfolios, the MSCI Climate Paris Aligned Indexes are a transparent way to implement a green investing strategy.

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Decarbonization 101: What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?

What types of carbon emissions do companies need to be aware of to effectively decarbonize? Here are the 3 scopes of carbon emissions.

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Scopes of Carbon Emissions Share

What Carbon Emissions Are Part Of Your Footprint?

With many countries and companies formalizing commitments to meeting the Paris Agreement carbon emissions reduction goals, the pressure to decarbonize is on.

A common commitment from organizations is a “net-zero” pledge to both reduce and balance carbon emissions with carbon offsets. Germany, France and the UK have already signed net-zero emissions laws targeting 2050, and the U.S. and Canada recently committed to synchronize efforts towards the same net-zero goal by 2050.

As organizations face mounting pressure from governments and consumers to decarbonize, they need to define the carbon emissions that make up their carbon footprints in order to measure and minimize them.

This infographic from the National Public Utility Council highlights the three scopes of carbon emissions that make up a company’s carbon footprint.

The 3 Scopes of Carbon Emissions To Know

The most commonly used breakdown of a company’s carbon emissions are the three scopes defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a partnership between the World Resources Institute and Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The GHG Protocol separates carbon emissions into three buckets: emissions caused directly by the company, emissions caused by the company’s consumption of electricity, and emissions caused by activities in a company’s value chain.

Scope 1: Direct emissions

These emissions are direct GHG emissions that occur from sources owned or controlled by the company, and are generally the easiest to track and change. Scope 1 emissions include:

  • Factories
  • Facilities
  • Boilers
  • Furnaces
  • Company vehicles
  • Chemical production (not including biomass combustion)

Scope 2: Indirect electricity emissions

These emissions are indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by the company, which requires tracking both your company’s energy consumption and the relevant electrical output type and emissions from the supplying utility. Scope 2 emissions include:

  • Electricity use (e.g. lights, computers, machinery, heating, steam, cooling)
  • Emissions occur at the facility where electricity is generated (fossil fuel combustion, etc.)

Scope 3: Value chain emissions

These emissions include all other indirect GHG emissions occurring as a consequence of a company’s activities both upstream and downstream. They aren’t controlled or owned by the company, and many reporting bodies consider them optional to track, but they are often the largest source of a company’s carbon footprint and can be impacted in many different ways. Scope 3 emissions include:

  • Purchased goods and services
  • Transportation and distribution
  • Investments
  • Employee commute
  • Business travel
  • Use and waste of products
  • Company waste disposal

The Carbon Emissions Not Measured

Most uses of the GHG Protocol by companies includes many of the most common and impactful greenhouse gases that were covered by the UN’s 1997 Kyoto Protocol. These include carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, as well as other gases and carbon-based compounds.

But the standard doesn’t include other emissions that either act as minor greenhouse gases or are harmful to other aspects of life, such as general pollutants or ozone depletion.

These are emissions that companies aren’t required to track in the pressure to decarbonize, but are still impactful and helpful to reduce:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCS): These are greenhouse gases used mainly in refrigeration systems and in fire suppression systems (alongside halons) that are regulated by the Montreal Protocol due to their contribution to ozone depletion.
  • Nitrogen oxides (NOx): These gases include nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and are caused by the combustion of fuels and act as a source of air pollution, contributing to the formation of smog and acid rain.
  • Halocarbons: These carbon-halogen compounds have been used historically as solvents, pesticides, refrigerants, adhesives, and plastics, and have been deemed a direct cause of global warming for their role in the depletion of the stratospheric ozone.

There are many different types of carbon emissions for companies (and governments) to consider, measure, and reduce on the path to decarbonization. But that means there are also many places to start.

National Public Utilities Council is the go-to resource for all things decarbonization in the utilities industry. Learn more.

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