Nori is building for agility
If you are a first time listener and want to dive into the Reversing Climate Change podcast, start here with episode 5. It’s a nice throwback from December 4th to see that six months later we are on the same track, and have done what we said we would. This episode also validates the approach that .
We brought on Jane Flegal and Andrew Maynard. Jane — who begrudgingly accepted the moniker Geoengineering Jane Jr. — recently received a PhD from Berkeley in with a dissertation “The Evidentiary Politics of the Geoengineering Imaginary,” but at the time of recording was a visiting scholar at Arizona State University’s School of Future Innovation in Society (SFIS). Andrew is a professor at SFIS, creator of the YouTube channel “Risk Bites,” and blogs at Science 2020. He’s a recovering physicist who thinks in terms of systems, technology innovation, and societal risk.
We geek out about about terms like geoengineering: “the deliberate large-scale manipulation of an environmental process that affects the earth’s climate, in an attempt to counteract the effects of global warming.” Less than 10% of the population even knows anything about geoengineering so obviously it’s all about framing. There’s solar radiation management (SRM) which includes anything that can reflect sunlight. This comes down to modifying about the albedo effect. Options range from painting roofs white (inexpensive, safe), spreading sea-ice (moderately expensive, safe) putting reflective mirrors in the atmosphere (expensive, safe), to spraying sulfates in the atmosphere (cheap, risky).
Of course Nori is not focused at all on SRM, and in a way, a massive global cooling represents a risk to the price of carbon. We are only focused on carbon removal; the other half of geoengineering. There is an ideological debate of lumping and splitting technologies under the rubric of geoengineering. Frankly, I hate semantics and don’t like the term, but do contend that what we’re doing is geoengineering. I would prefer the world not have to make that choice to even do SRM because we’ve been successful at pulling the excess greenhouse gases back down. As we discussed on a later podcast with Sean Hernandez, the Royal Society found that geoengineering presented to the public actually decreases moral hazard rather than vice versa.
At the end of the day, there is a moral question. Can we tell people to stop what they are doing or do we need to come up with elegant ways to deal with their effects? Or is it a mix of both and we just need ways to scale up new technologies that make it all possible?
On the policy maker level, there is a lack of awareness what is even plausible. Do policy makers know that there is enough capacity in the world to store all the excess carbon we’ve emitted and live in a stable climate? Or have ample room store all the annual emissions from coal and natural gas fired power plants in the US soils?
I wish that policy makers could have seen the room at Reversapalooza two weeks ago. I asked if people in the room whether there’s enough space to store all the excess CO2. Everyone raised their hand to agree that it would be possible to store all our excess carbon.
If it’s possible to actually reverse man induced climate change, then we just need to do it.
We believe that Nori will provide a shock to the system of inertia in solving climate change that plagues the approaches we’ve taken so far. Andrew hit the nail on the head on why the start-up approach that Nori is taking can contribute to agile governance. We are launching our platform with a methodology that has the sequestration potential to remove at least ten billion tons per year. And that’s just with soils. Once we consider agroforestry, blue carbon, mineralization and direct air capture we can get an order of magnitude greater. Our offering cuts through umpteen layers of bureaucracy by providing something that once we have we can never do without: cryptographically secured carbon removal certificates. If we were serious about reversing climate change entirely, we would need 1.5 trillion of them. Our goal is to build the transparent platform that enables anyone to improve the way to measure CO2 so that these can be made. Our thesis is that a business is much better positioned to offer carbon removal as a service than governments.