The Weekender: Climate Solutions and the Great Carbon Harvest of the 21st Century
The Weekender features a longer form publication or multimedia production from a reputable source. We select articles or things to watch or listen to that discuss issues and opportunities we deem just off the radar for many business people, students, and faculty. We aim to expand the mind, broaden the heart, and sharpen the analysis. Have a great weekend!
The message has been hanging over me like the Goodyear Blimp: carbon isn't evil, just out of place. First it was Paul Hawken in a talk on campus for his book Drawdown. Then it was Lisa Conway, VP of Sustainability, Interface Americas, whose company is focused on reversing climate change. Then I kept reading about companies making plastics and growing algae from carbon pollution. Then, this article from Yale360. Okay, okay! I get the message: though most of these innovations are in their early days, recasting carbon as a resource not the enemy is the way of the future.
Improvements in the science and technology (such as this 2016 research from Iceland using captured carbon emissions to make rock) are making removing carbon from the air more commercially viable. The entrepreneurs and innovators will start to descend on the growing opportunities. Start-ups already in the space include: Blue Planet (carbon in concrete), AirCarbon and Novomer (use waste carbon to make plastic and textiles), and Solidia (putting carbon into building materials).
Cleaning the air and cooling the planet while creating jobs? We aren't quite there yet, at least at scale. But the smart money is always on where the puck is going, not where it has been.
"...it’s very important to understand that there has been a revolution in the available technology to solve this problem in the last 15 years with no historical precedent. Fifteen years ago, if you asked me how to solve the carbon and climate problem, I would have said, 'I don’t know. We don’t have the technology to do it.' Now when you ask me, I’ll tell you exactly what we have to build as a species to do it."
"The government should create a market by subsidizing the activity, and then have every super-ambitious person in Silicon Valley who wants to save the world and become the richest person in it, compete with every other such person and drive the costs relentlessly down, and we’ll all be the beneficiaries."