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The Age of Sustainability - Issue #15 - Private Involvement

The Age of Sustainability - Issue #15 - Private Involvement
By Denis Pombriant • Issue #14 • View online
There’s a sense of frustration about climate shared by regular people and some titans of industry. And why not? To be honest, governments around the world have done very little but call attention to the problem of global warming and related issues at a time when only government organization, funding and muscle can deliver real solutions.
Some of this is human nature. Governments kick the can down the road so that it becomes someone else’s problem in the nebulous future. That generation will need to grapple with finding a series of technical solutions and then of financing them. Meanwhile, whether capitalist democracy or autocracy with a smattering of profit motive, the goal of the moment seems pursuing short term money-making while problems fester and their ultimate solutions become harder to realize if only because of their alarming scope.
Frustration began boiling over more than a decade ago when British entrepreneur, Richard Branson, offered a prize of $25 million to the first entity that could demonstrate a way to reliably remove one billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and sequester it for long geologic time. The prize needed to be scalable to deal with the trillions of tons of carbon in the air and the billions being added annually. It attracted over two thousand serious proposals and promptly ran into trouble as it faced the reality that any solutions would have to encompass the whole planet and that national governments and the United Nations might not look kindly on entrepreneurship in this area. First do no harm seems the operative attitude.
The prize remains unawarded though some disbursements for promising solutions have dribbled out. My reading of the “solutions” is that each supplies two out of three conditions that include, not violating the Second Law of Thermodynamics, ability to sequester the carbon for the requisite time, and matching the scale of the problem.
These ideas deserve some attention. There are many things we can do in laboratories on a small scale that simply do not scale up. For instance we can produce the conditions requires by the prize if the energy required to accomplish the task is nearly infinite. But terrestrial energy supplies are anything but infinite so wonderful experiments have, so far, remained in the lab.
The software giant Salesforce has entered the fray in its inimical way and to a degree manages to avoid the two out of three predicament outlined above. But in so doing it has sidestepped an attempt at a real solution. However, this in no way suggests that what the company offers may not be valuable in the continuing effort to get to three out of three.
Earlier this year Salesforce introduced technology that supports tracking and managing a company’s carbon footprint. It is hoped that by doing so, companies might be able to make better decisions about production and transportation. For instance using renewable energy and reducing business travel when possible are two things any business can do without retooling or taking on an excess burden. Salesforce’s solution enables them to monitor and therefore manage their carbon footprints.
More recently the company introduced a program focused on ocean health. There’s a great deal more ocean than land on this planet and civilization has dealt with the marine environment terribly given that so much of our food and breathable air comes from it. Salesforce’s effort is multi-pronged and I encourage you to follow the link below to learn more and to discover how you might help.
Alas, though neither tracking carbon nor tracking and removing debris from the oceans and repairing coral life is either scalable or intended to bring down the pollution in sufficient quantities. This quantification remains elusive but, that said, this is still early days.
It’s quite possible to see Salesforce’s solutions as essential to helping quantify the problems and challenges for a global population more in need of understanding solutions than identifying problems. It its only when we can evaluate solutions that we can make basic decisions about problem scope and best logical paths to remediation. Anything else is simply happy talk.

Salesforce Accelerates Ocean Sustainability Efforts - Salesforce News
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Denis Pombriant

Starting with root causes a full discussion of what's ailing climate and what we can and are doing to fix it. There is so much news about solutions every day that this will give hope to even the most cynical.

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