Norigins: what Nori is and why we do it

When I start listening to an established podcast I simultaneously feel excitement and dread: “there are so many episodes!” or… “there are so many episodes”. Where exactly does one start? Is it worth going back to beginning? Your mileage may vary. We wanted to make this easy on people, so we recorded a short episode that goes through the basics of what Nori is, why it exists, our philosophy, and our history. This, fair readers, is the Norigins episode.

We forgot to take a picture, but this is the garage where it took place. Glamorous, we know.

Here is my brave attempt to describe Nori in a single paragraph:

Carbon dioxide isn’t inherently bad. It’s essentially a garbage problem. The issue is that it is quite challenging to use the existing system to pay carbon removers. There are many barriers to entry and middlemen that Nori cuts out. In creating this financial infrastructure, Nori aims to establish a universal price on carbon removal and jumpstart an entire sector to reverse rather than merely mitigate climate change, which we believe it too late to properly do anyhow. Once people can monetize an environmental service like removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, much conflict between economic growth and the environment should disappear, as environmentalism is no longer seen as a mere cost to be borne by business and consumers. It is a chance to make money, and hopefully a lot of it.

The protagonists in this origin story are Paul Gambill and Christophe Jospe. Paul has an engineering background and was working in software product management while nursing a few entrepreneurial side projects. Wanting to solve climate change rather than making it less bad, his research led him to his and my alma mater, Arizona State University’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, where Christophe was working under Nori’s future advisor Dr. Klaus Lackner. They hit it off, but nothing came of it for awhile.

Jaycen Horton is a software wizard and friend of Paul’s from college. Paul turned Jaycen onto coding within the Ethereum platform. They did an IPFS hackathon hosted/judged by Dan Finlay of Metamask fame. The project was called Carbon Harvest, and was an attempt to pay farmers for using regenerative agriculture to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Christophe, supreme networker that he is, called Paul on his birthday a few months later and they decided to have Christophe come visit Paul in Seattle and see if they could work together. They loved the experience, worked out the basics of Nori, and then heard about the Blockchain for Social Impact hackathon over at ConsenSys. This is where I was brought in as I’d been working in the blockchain space and have known Paul since college, Alexsandra knew Christophe from working with Klaus Lackner at Columbia. After six weeks of focus we built a product, early white paper, and recorded the first episode of the podcast. We won the Energy and Environment category in the hackathon, and off we went from there! Soon thereafter Christophe and Paul were introduced to Aldyen and her deep experience in environmental markets. Paul2 was found by Paul speaking with a recruiter friend about a CTO, and Paul2 magically having the skills we needed and was hungry for a project that combined software with addressing climate change.

If that isn’t enough Nori history for you, listening to the podcast from the beginning is truly a cataloguing of our learning process and working through many of the challenging questions Nori faces. We discuss science, philosophy, history, technology, and quite a lot else. You can jump into the episodes that most appeal to you too. We try to never assume too much knowledge in a given episode so it isn’t like you’ll be missing things (we aspire at least.) Hope this brief introduction stokes your interest.

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