The Biden Administration has a wonderful opportunity to make far-reaching infrastructure improvements that will fight climate change and have a good chance of garnering bipartisan support

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The present grid paradigm has reached its sundown. Source: Alexander Popov via Unsplash

Our electrical grid is a stunning example of human ingenuity and engineering. It spans hundreds of thousands of miles, is fed by thousands of production facilities, and serves hundreds of millions of customers. It is the largest machine ever built and one that empowers every computing, networking, and communications innovation of the Internet Age. (See also my article entitled You’ll Never Guess The Two Most Important Words In Tech Investing.)

As impressive as it is, the North American grid is showing its age. After all, it was built on a 19th century paradigm, its backbone was established before the 1929 stock market crash, and it still maintains equipment of the same vintage as Robby the Robot. …


Mycelial networks sequester an enormous amount of carbon and provide other environmental benefits as well

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Suburbs in Dallas, Texas. Source: Wikipedia.org

Since the onset of COVID-19, suburban life has suddenly taken on a new attraction. In this age of pandemic, widely spaced houses set back on verdant, manicured lawns represent spatial inoculation from disease as much as they do bourgeois domesticity.

What if those wide lawns could also help to mitigate climate change?

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Atlanta-based entrepreneur, Joseph Kelly, wants to democratize the fight against climate change. Source: Joseph Kelly

An entrepreneur in Atlanta, Joseph Kelly, has successfully demonstrated to large corporate clients and carbon registries that underground mycelial networks can naturally sequester enormous amounts of carbon dioxide without altering the commercial or leisure activities that are taking place aboveground in any way.

Kelly’s aim is to democratize the fight against climate change by encouraging American families to sequester one extra ton of carbon dioxide every year using his company’s NetZero “mycelial orbs” — thereby cultivating living carbon capture networks in their own lawns. …


Pachama, a vanguard in the fight to mitigate climate change, has some exciting news

A revolution is underway in the world of carbon credits. It is a revolution that has the potential to help civilization thrive and survive into the 21st century.

One of the vanguards in this revolution is the California start-up Pachama, a company I have featured in this column before (see Applying AI To Mitigate The Effects Of Climate Change). Pachama has had some exciting developments in the past few months and is receiving the attention of some very smart and well-capitalized investors.

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A view of Kitlope Lake in the Kitlope Heritage Conservancy. Source: Sam Beebe via Wikipedia.org

Recall that Pachama is innovating the carbon credit markets by applying 21st century technology — LiDAR, machine vision, and machine learning algorithms — to automate the process of certifying and verifying forestry-related “voluntary” carbon offset projects. …


Healthy markets allow investors to take intelligent risks and control unavoidable ones. Voluntary carbon offset markets must become much more robust if civilization is to have any hope to mitigate climate change

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International airlines from certain countries have signed the CORSIA treaty, which requires them to offset greenhouse gas emissions for their international flights. Source: Wikipedia.org

Former Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, announced the launch of a taskforce to figure out how to jumpstart voluntary carbon offset markets.

(To understand what I mean by “Voluntary” markets and see the differences between voluntary and “Compliance” markets, please see my article entitled “ Want To Understand Carbon Credits? Read This “.)

Carney points out that, right now, the voluntary carbon offset markets are too small, having a total capitalization of only around $300 million. To put that number into context, if the voluntary carbon offset markets were a single stock, it would be a microcap.

If our civilization is to make it into the next century, these markets should be worth tens of billions of dollars today (and rapidly growing), not hundreds of millions. …


Direct Air Capture is not a perfect solution, but it is the best we have given the timeframes we face

Over the past few weeks, I have written two articles ( The Future is Now, License to Print Money) highlighting the new industry of Carbon Sequestration-as-a-Service. CSaaS is helping forward-leaning firms like Shopify achieve carbon neutrality and is made possible by the intellectual property “software” of Carbon Engineering’s direct air capture (DAC) technology and the project development “hardware” of companies like 1PointFive, Pale Blue Dot, and Occidental Petroleum .

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A rendering of the engineering plans for the first industrial-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) plant in the Permian Basin of Texas. Source: 1PointFive.com

Since publishing these articles, I’ve gotten a flood of emails from readers on both sides of the political spectrum.

To the Greenies, I’m a shill for Big Oil who is rewarding carbon miners for their historical destruction of our biome with unwarranted good press. To the Head-in-the-Sand Crowd, I’m banging on about something that “may never happen” (despite the fact that it is happening right in front of our eyes) and is “technologically unproven” (despite the fact that DAC is already a commercial reality). …


Carbon Engineering’s “software” will eat the world’s atmospheric CO2, but “hardware” in the form of real assets must be built to do that

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A rendering of the engineering plans for the first industrial-scale Direct Air Capture (DAC) facility in Texas. This is not an artist’s representation, but represents over 25,000 engineering man-hours’ worth of plans. Source: 1PointFive.com

Carbon Sequestration-as-a-Service (CSaaS) can make “Carbon-free Shopping” as ubiquitous as “Free Shipping” is today, but to do so, a lot of infrastructure needs to get built. The football field-sized plants that pull CO2 out of the air for sequestration or reuse air don’t appear with the wave of a hand. Someone has to fund, plan, build, and operate them.

With all due respect to Mr. Software-is-eating-the-world, Marc Andreesen, a cool app can’t cool the planet. Software may be part of the solution, but software alone just doesn’t cut it — a new physical infrastructure must be developed.

That means building hard assets. …


This Start-Up Offers Carbon-Free Shopping

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An aerial view of Carbon Engineering’s operational research facility in Squamish, British Columbia. Source: CarbonEngineering.com

How wonderful it was to live at the turn of the twenty-first century! We had the luxury of considering climate change as a possible negative that might happen in the seemingly unimaginable future of “ten or 20 years from now.”

Back in the good ole’ days, we imagined that hurricanes would someday become more destructive. Wildfires would someday threaten more population centers. Droughts would someday become more severe.

These worries may have added a twinge of buzzkill while we were partying like it was 1999. On the bright side — most people figured — the disasters would not come for decades and by then, some lab coat-wearing egghead would have figured out a way to technologize us out of our pickle. …


San Francisco-based FinTech start-up, Xpansiv, has a credible plan to solve the problem of GHG emissions by leveraging industrial IoT to redefine the value embedded in commodities.

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Information exchange breeds transparency. Transparency breeds efficient markets. Source: Xpansiv.com

An academic paper published last month by Australian climate scientist, Steven Sherwood and a team of global colleagues, made for sobering reading.

The paper showed that a doubling of atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations — which at our present do-nothing pace, we’ll hit sometime in the next two generations — would most likely push global average temperatures to a range of between about 2.5 degrees and 4.0 degrees Celsius.

There is nothing particularly magical about the 2.0-degree Paris Agreement threshold, but it is a level where scientific research suggests we will start to see serious damage to marine ecosystems (i.e., seafood) and agricultural capacity (i.e., …


Gross sees a trillion dollar opportunity in Green Tech that will allow our civilization to continue to thrive in an age of climate change.

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Bill Gross, founder and CEO of Idealab and Heliogen. Credit: Andres Castaneda

When your correspondent sat down with Idealab founder, Bill Gross, to talk about one of his newest and most exciting projects, Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) company, Heliogen, we spent about half our time discussing the technical challenges of producing industrial temperatures using solar power.

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Heliogen’s CSP test facility in Lancaster, California. Source: Heliogen.com

The rest of our meeting centered on his interest in climate change and his views on starting and funding climate change adaptation and mitigation ventures more broadly. Because of Gross’ long experience in the venture capital world, I found his comments to be insightful and his anecdotes quite memorable.

Kobayashi-Solomon: When reading about your background, I realized that you’ve been working on CSP since you were a teenager. …


High fashion born from waste plastics

Your correspondent gets anywhere from 10–20 emails per day from public relations professionals wanting me to write about their client’s sustainability-related project.

Most of these mails are about businesses that I wouldn’t consider investing in personally, that aren’t focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, or that aren’t otherwise my cup of tea.

Some of the pitches crossing my desk sound cool, but I think I would have a hard time writing a full-length, differentiated, market-related article about what they are doing. In those cases, I grudgingly have to respond, “I’ll pass this time.”

However, after being influenced by ex-Economic Hit Man John Perkins’ ideas of changing the world through person-by-person action, I decided to start a new feature for this column called Cool Products. …

About

Erik Kobayashi-Solomon

Founder of IOI Capital. Passionate about harnessing the power of the free market to solve humanity’s biggest adaptation challenge.

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