Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Columbia Climate School green entrepreneur Kevin Webb explaining his goal of converting the climate sinners and restoring Little Ice Age CO2 levels.
Beyond Climate Change: What Happens Once We Control the Global Thermostat?
BY KEVIN WEBB |DECEMBER 14, 2021
As flooding subsumes Toronto, NYC experiences its greatest single-hour downpour on record, Oregon continues to blaze…
I get to speak from a privileged position. For the past several years I’ve been investing in startups that have positive ecosystem and climate impacts. Some are working on electrification and efficiency, to reduce the need for oil and gas in the first place. Others are finding ways to capture oceanic or atmospheric carbon dioxide efficiently, so we can not only stop emissions, but have a chance to return our atmospheric levels to the ~280 parts per million (PPM) that almost all of human civilization has known until recently.
Personally, I’m bullish. My underpinning rationale is as follows:
- Climate change will get worse before it gets better. This is news to no one who’s paying attention; the world continues to increase atmospheric CO2 by the day, which traps more of the sun’s heat. This in turn disrupts the weather patterns, watersheds, ocean currents, and more that humanity has built civilizations around. Even if we stopped CO2 emissions today, these impacts will take decades, possibly centuries, to play out. (All the more reason to get to net-zero emissions ASAP.)
- This means every year will bring new converts, who not only believe in climate change, but believe they must personally be involved in solutions. Writers, politicians, artists, engineers, investors — the world needs wholesale change, and there’s room for everyone to bring their skillsets, values, and perspectives. Nations and companies that neglect these voters, employees, investors, regulators and customers will do so at their peril.
- We need to run the clock backwards. The CO2 levels of the “Goldilocks period” most of humanity has existed through (roughly the past 10,000 years, which saw the development of agriculture and cities) will look increasingly appealing compared with the coming several years and decades ahead. (On principle, I believe 280 PPM should be the benchmark CO2 level).
- Technology is here. More will come. Building technology to slow, stop, and reverse climate change should be good enough to drive consumer and corporate adoption. It’s not. Between inertia, subsidies, and legacy infrastructure, today’s entrepreneurs and technologists must actively make offerings that are better. Doing so is far from easy, but when transitioning makes sense not only ethically but financially, it starts to feel inevitable.
Personally I’m bullish we’ll continue pumping CO2 and greening the Earth. And the climate crisis movement will fade away once even hardcore believers realise it is all a big nothing burger.