On Overton windows, carbon removal trends, anthropogenic snow clouds, principles, and users guides
Welcome to the January edition of the Carbon A List newsletter. Do you know someone who would enjoy our newsletter? Forward this email to them and they can subscribe here.
On the Overton Window
The Overton Window was introduced by Joseph P. Overton of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in the 1990s. It represents the policies of what the public are and aren’t able to accept. Anything that gets an idea out into the public, and allows public debate allows the window to improve existing or create new and better policies. It allows for the emergence of ideas from across the political spectrum that had once been unthinkable. When applying it to climate it is similarly useful to understand the regulated and unregulated markets, where things are working — or could work better, and creating the conditions for more public debate and understanding across appropriate continuums.
On carbon removal trends
In considering the Overton Window as it relates to climate action, it is useful to look at the carbon removal industry to assess the degree to which an idea takes hold. A decade ago, I was working with Dr. Klaus Lackner, and publishing articles like “Climate Change as a Waste Management Problem” as part of the collective effort that was making the case for pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. Many of the technologies and pathways seemed more like science experiments. Now, the case seems to be made, and there is growing momentum and greater social acceptance, public debate, and funding for the industry. Carbon 180 put together a great overview of the top trends in 2022 that defined the industry. Many of the moonshots may still be science experiences, like Lithos’ spreading basalt to croplands, but the Overton Window has shifted to allow for more pilots and public debate.
On anthropogenic snow clouds
The Colorado snowpack is 25 to 40% above normal this year. This is not just good news for skiers but everyone who consumes water and energy in the Colorado River water basin as we face a decadal mega-drought. Some part, although how much is unclear, is due to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), an organization created 75 years ago to provide policy direction on water issues facing Colorado. CWCB is Colorado’s most comprehensive water information resource. The agency’s responsibilities range from protecting Colorado’s streams and lakes to water conservation, flood mitigation, watershed protection, stream restoration, drought planning, water supply planning and water project financing. Given that mandate, among the many things they have been doing building snowpack through the Weather Modification Program. Yes, we’ve been seeding clouds to make snow for 75 years, and it’s potentially a useful tool in our tool box. We just don’t know how well it works, or what side effects it might create. Sounds like a good one for the Overton Window.
I’ve been thinking a lot about principles and how they can be useful to make decisions, change perspectives and create alignment. Having principles in place creates the space for a pathway to know where, why, what, and how to evolve. At Carbon A List we’ve been applying and iterating on our own set of principles. In workshop strategies with clients linking gaps to actions we’ve been including principles. In Ray Dalio’s book, Principles Work and Life there are countless lessons and examples to pull on and ways to make them practical for you.
On users guides
As we seek to uplevel our impact, we’re introspecting how we can improve how we work as a team. We find that user’s guides are very helpful for high performing teams and especially so when onboarding new team members. Here’s a free template that we’ve created. It links to a few free personality tests (including Ray Dalio’s principles you test) that also help us better understand each other and how we can work together.
What we’re working on
As we continue to deliver client value to clients across projects we are recognizing that many of the things we do can benefit multiple people. Instead of hiring us for our time, we are able to sell our output. This output translates into making it easier for any client to achieve their climate ambition. We are evolving our business model to begin to sell products along with our services. This looks like a subscription product that can complement our services contracts. We’re hosting our next Off the Climate Record event around this tool development. This event is for people with an openness to very early stage products and especially anyone who is about to start working on a USDA grant. Please fill out this form to receive an invite.
What I’m reading
- First Principles: the building blocks of true knowledge. Guidance on how to think about first principles.
- The 10 Carbon Removal Trends that defined 2022. An overview of how the carbon removal industry has grown and where it’s headed.
- What AI Can Do for Climate Change, and What Climate Change Can Do for AI. With the advent of Chat GPT and other off the shelf AI models, there is plenty of opportunity for the climate sector to lean into this space.
Can you help?
- As noted above, we’re scaling into shifting from a service business to selling products. If you are interested in being one of the early points of feedback to this product, please fill out this form. If you have experience that you think might be relevant to our journey are willing to offer advice please get in touch!
- If you enjoy this newsletter, please share it!