Podcast Episodes

Economics isn’t all about money. It’s about human action, decisions and choices. In fact, economists and environmentalists could be natural allies in solving climate change. Unfortunately, a good number of environmentalists take a hardline stance on geoengineering, arguing that any further human manipulation of the environment is a bad idea. But with CO2 levels reaching more than 400 PPM, mitigation alone will not solve our problem. So how would an economist approach climate change?

Mark Herrema is the Co-Founder and CEO of Newlight Technologies, an advanced biotechnology company using carbon capture to produce high-performance polymers that replace oil-based materials. Newlight was founded on the idea that carbon could be used as a resource, and today it operates the world’s first commercial-scale greenhouse gas-to-AirCarbon manufacturing facilities, producing bioplastics used in furniture, electronics, packaging and a range of other products.

In the beginning… Paul and Christophe realized that the blockchain provides an ideal platform for a carbon marketplace where people can get paid to remove CO2 from the atmosphere—and ultimately succeed in reversing climate change. It took more than six days, but they eventually put together a team, developed a business plan, and Nori was born.

Today David joins Ross and Christophe to explain why civilizations that degrade their soil don’t last. We discuss the troubling numbers around soil degradation and loss and the three simple farming practices that would restore our soil. David walks us through the residual benefits of regenerative farming and the factors that inhibit widespread adoption.

Andrew Himes is a partner at Carbon Innovations, currently working with the University of Washington’s Carbon Smart Building Initiative. The project seeks to transform the built environment from an existential threat to a net carbon sink that absorbs more than a billion tons of CO2 each year by converting captured carbon into useful building products and creating market demand for carbon capture.

Professor Dowlatabadi joins Ross and Christophe to share his frustration with the lack of evidence-based policy employed by governments as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change temperature targets. He offers his insight on geoengineering, explaining why he is so confident in its inevitability. We debate the ‘unobtainable goals’ of Elon Musk and compare Nori with Professor Dowlatabadi’s 2005 Offsetters program.

When it comes to climate change, the mining industry is typically seen as a ‘bad guy,’ depleting the Earth’s natural resources and emitting CO2 in the process. So you might be astounded to learn that carbon can actually be captured and stored using the waste produced in the mining process. Indeed the potential exists for scaling up this carbon capture process to remove billions of tons of CO2 per year—simply by recycling mining waste.

Why don’t voluntary or compliance carbon offset markets work? The numbers simply don’t add up. A lack of connection between the certificates and the physical inventory means that both parties—the seller and buyer—take credit for a reduction in emissions. And this double counting (issuing two certificates for a single credit) leads to a surplus of certificates under which the associated markets crash and burn. The good news is, the blockchain will allow us to start over and do the math correctly.

Ross and Christophe are joined by Dr. Klaus Lackner, the director of ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE) and professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering. The CNCE is known for advancing carbon management technologies to capture carbon dioxide directly from the air in an outdoor operating environment. Today Klaus explains how he conceived of the windmill-sized structures that could scrub CO2 from the air and how these towers prove to be a more efficient solution than planting trees.

Today Ross and Christophe are speaking with corporate environmental attorney and blockchain enthusiast Mike Denby of Arizona Public Service, the largest power company in Arizona. APS is a vertically-integrated utility, both generating and selling power to its customers. They discuss how blockchain technology might be utilized in the energy sector and how the conservative business culture of the utility industry is likely to impact its interest in cryptocurrency.