I’m now 10 days in to a personal challenge. I’ve been describing it to friends as a “jump off a cliff and build a wing suit on the way down” type of challenge. I was looking for a zero cost and low effort way to put myself and Carbon A List out there as part of a gorilla marketing campaign and generate more content on the internet, while also celebrating great ideas that can count carbon. I had just finished up two consulting projects, and had a bit of extra time. As an entrepreneur on a quest to contribute to new ways to drive attention or funding to climate solutions and consultant who works in the sustainability space and is always looking for getting on the radar of new clients, I saw this as an option to take advantage of a couple of factors:
- While I am certainly no professional, I enjoy editing video
- I have a massive spreadsheet I’ve been building over the last year that tracks start-up companies and technology options that contribute to some form of decarbonization
- There is not enough holistic thinking in thinking about climate change solutions. And when different options are placed together it changes how people perceive or learn about things
- I was inspired from Project Drawdown to set a bar with the first comprehensive plan for holistic thinking, but also give a tip of the hat to the framing presented Shell’s Climate Change Advisor David Hone
- I had just published a paper in Issues in Science and Technology where my former boss Klaus Lackner and I present Climate Change as a waste management issue, so I’ve been pushing the concept that we can manage the total amount of greenhouse gas waste by 5 R’s: Remove, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Replace
- I realize that public speaking will become an increasingly prevalent part of my career, so the more I force myself out there the better I will get at articulating a coherent message
- One of my skills is science translation, so forcing something like this upon myself will help me continue to master this skill
- I had a fear of looking stupid on the internet, and good things come when you expose your vulnerability and address fears
- Obscure and emerging solutions can benefit from being placed next to known and understood solutions; the power of association is, well, powerful
- People like learning about solutions
- Challenges are fun and in general, get other people inspired to help/get involved
I didn’t want to let perfect be the enemy of good. Actually, for the purposes of this project, I was quite OK with subpar sound quality and a few imperfections. I was going for authentic, passionate, and fun. All the videos would be taken and produced from a cell phone. I was under no delusions that these are the 50 best climate solutions. That is a claim I don’t want to make, nor do I want to spend the time crunching numbers to be sure about that. I can say with certainty that I have captured/am capturing the majority of the best solutions, while also surfacing solutions that have not yet gotten a serious look and warrant more attention. I don’t play favorites.
So I took a couple takes of a selfie video on my rooftop in Brooklyn and published the best one.
I came up with a formula of what I would try to talk about in a minute for each solution.
- What is the solution?
- How does it count carbon? (Remove, replace, reduce, reuse, recycle)
- What are the additional benefits?
I started a new tab on my spreadsheet and quickly jotted down a production schedule with 50 different solutions that I would talk about each day. As much as possible, I wanted visually stimulating so on Day 2 and talked about trees in front of a tree. Day 3 I talked about biking at a Citibike station. Day 4 was about composting at a collection center. But I was quickly realizing something. It’s a lot more fun, and way more relatable if I got the people who are working on or directly the solutions to talk about what they are working on. These people could then answer a 4th question.
4. What does success look like for this solution?
Defining success for climate solutions is important. Sometimes success happens without defining it, but the people who are most successful can clearly articulate their goals. That is the best way to manifest them.
This led me to up the ante on my challenge. The rest of the time I would aim to acquire footage from people connected to solutions to talk about them. If people were in New York, I would go visit them and schedule a time to get them talking about their climate solution. If they were somewhere around the world I would collect videos that I could splice in. I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends and contacts around the world working on the solutions I have listed, and some have agreed just by nature of knowing me and have sent selfie videos answering those four questions. I also have very little compunction requesting people or companies who don’t know me to do this if I think their solution warrants more attention/funding. Surprisingly, a lot of people have said yes. As of writing this, the production schedule is still not full. Soon it will be and I will have to be picky on what actually gets used. Or we’ll just keep going, or get a real media company to help with producing more quality content.
Yesterday I learned that Bertrand Piccard is on a mission to discover 1000 solutions. Hmmm, that’s a lot, but maybe one day the “Climate Change Solutions Challenge” will be on his radar. I certainly appreciate his Twitter robot’s message when I followed him on Twitter yesterday.
If you’re working on a solution and reading this and want to get involved with this challenge and take advantage of free content on your solution, lifelong friendship, and the opportunity to be part of the beginning of an entrepreneurial journey that is focused first on saving the plant and second on the ways to drive money and attention to things that can do that, email me. Let’s tell stories to Bertrand and others like him.
For everyone else, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter. You will have a front row seat to the evolution of this journey and free access/reduced cost to things that I produce…
Also published on Medium.