30 August 2022 |

Keep Cool highlight reel


As I refamiliarized myself with these, it struck me that the best pieces stand the test of time – regardless of how policy changes or the climate changes, there’s still key insights in these interviews & features. I also tried to pick pieces that cover a wide range of topics, ranging from carbon removal and geopolitics to water re-use and climate investing for real estate markets. 

✍️ Planetary Technologies: Leveraging the ocean for carbon removal 

Many of my favorite climate technologies harness the genius and power of the natural world to drive impact. Take the ocean, for instance. The ocean is already one of the biggest carbon sinks in the world: It has sequestered ~40% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, often in highly permanent ways.

What if one could accelerate the rate at which the ocean removes CO2 from the atmosphere? What other ecosystem benefits might be realized in the process? These are some of the opportunities and questions Planetary Technologies tackles. This interview and write up was one of my favorites for three reasons: 

  • The level of complexity is high. But Planetary Tech’s business isn’t complex just for the sake of appearing sophisticated – the scale of their ambition requires it.
  • Complexity is also driven by the firms drive to design a fully circular system. Said differently, they have a zero tolerance policy for relying on inputs in their process that aren’t sustainable or in producing waste outputs that can’t be used elsewhere. 
  • It’s also a good introduction to a core tension in climate tech and carbon removal, namely the desire and need to move quickly versus allowing the science to ‘catch-up’. No one is 100% sure about how ocean alkalinization and de-acidification will play out in the open ocean. How do you balance that uncertainty with speed & scale? 

🎙️ Climate Core Capital: Climate change and real estate investing

Simply put, recording this podcast episode with Climate Core Capital co-founder and partner, Owen Woolcock was one of the more illuminating conversations I’ve had all year. We discussed everything from how climate change will impact flood insurance to the very real risks to human health cities, and entire economies posed by climate change. 

Flooding in the U.S. is getting worse. And insurance companies are playing catch-up

Whether you’re thinking about buying a house, a commercial real estate investor or developer, or are curious about the massive challenge and opportunity that is converting the real estate asset class to climate-consciousness, listen in here!

✍️ Complexity and contradiction: digging deeper on the Inflation Reduction Act

This one is quite recent, but makes the list for me for a few reasons. For one, it was 100% sparked by dialogue with Keep Cool readers. After I covered the IRA in more cursory detail in earlier emails, Molly Morabito wrote in and challenged me to cover some of the tradeoffs made in the bill too, in more exacting detail.

And I’m glad she did! Not just because it’s an important, additional perspective for readers. But because in writing it, I found myself seeing parallels between the concessions and tradeoffs in the bill and many of the central debates in climate and climate tech in general. I would have missed that opportunity for deeper reflection and to expand my own perspective had I not been prompted to. 

The value of the exchange and the content it sparked also speaks to the strength of the, dare I say, ‘community’ we’re building here. Subscribing to a 3x weekly newsletter probably feels like a pretty one way affair. But in our case, it certainly doesn’t have to be! I read every response I get into this email inbox (and even check the spam folder, occasionally). 

In the future, perhaps we’ll formalize a better tech solution to make the dialogue feel even less one-way. I’m admittedly a bit resistant to starting the umpteenth climate slack group. But if you have ideas (or want that), let me know!

✍️ Epic Cleantec: Revamping water reuse

Here’s a striking stat – LA county currently gets <5% of its water from recycled sources. As a decade-long drought continues to afflict the Western U.S., state and local governments are finally making moves to address their water crisis. It’s still not enough, though.

An empty spillway in Lone Pine, California

So often in climate and climate tech, we focus (almost myopically) on greenhouse gas emissions. Without making it a zero sum game, access to fresh water could well be just as significant of a global issue as the Earth’s climate continues to warm and change. 

That’s why Epic Cleantec, a company innovating and scaling water reuse systems for buildings, is one of my favorite companies I’ve come across in 18 months of covering climate tech. Their solution side steps centralized water treatment facilities, offering building owners a way to increase their water recycling rates drastically without relying on government action. Will government action be helpful too? Of course – legislation, like a new law in San Francisco that mandates on-site water reuse systems in all new buildings – will be a massive boon for Epic Cleantec and to combat drought.  

The bull case for Epic Cleantec has only gotten stronger since I published this piece in February, as a long summer sans rain wears on in the West. To learn more about the company and CEO Aaron Tartarovsky’s perspective on our relationship to water, read the piece here!

Charm Industrial: Drilling for oil in reverse 

Last but certainly not least? My most recent podcast, released last week, was a stand-out one for me. Me and Shaun Kinetic, the Chief Scientist at Charm Industrial, chopped it up with respect to everything concerning carbon removal, what it takes to iterate quickly on hardware engineering challenges, and, of course, Charm’s specific approach to putting oil back underground. 

There’s a ton of meat in this episode for anyone curious about the work that goes into cutting edge hardware solutions to climate challenges; Shaun was very candid with how difficult it is to scale Charm’s engineered carbon removal technology. Plus, for those of you like me who are curious about all things measurement, reporting, and verification in carbon removal, as well as what types of questions farmers on the ground ask when you come to their fields with a machine and ask them to buy up their biomass, then this is the episode for you. 
Give it a listen here! Especially if you haven’t tuned into the pod previously, this was a fun one.