Want to save the planet? Start now.
Good morning! If you want to save the planet, you have to start now. Don’t count on tech that’s years away. My name is Brian, and I saw my first bitcoin mine (from a distance) this weekend. Stay tuned for the story in a couple of weeks.
Don’t rely on speculative tech
Do you like having a habitable climate? If so, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has a few tips on how to keep it that way.
The world’s leading body of climate scientists dropped its latest report yesterday. There’s no shortage of bad news in it, including the fact that current climate policies could still result in up to nearly 30% of all species being wiped off the face of the Earth, and up to $12.7 trillion (yes, that’s a T) in coastal assets is at risk of inundation by the end of this century under a middle-of-the-road scenario. As your friendly climate correspondent, I would normally keep going down that road. But not today, Satan.
Instead, I want to talk about the good parts of the IPCC. Well, “good.” The report shows that we still have a choice to address climate change. Importantly, it lays out that we also have the technology needed right now — and that if we wait for some silver bullet that venture capital is increasingly investing in, we could face serious harm.
This iteration of the IPCC focuses on how to adapt our entire world for a new climate. That includes the energy system. It finds that we can not just reduce the impacts of climate change by investing in renewable and decentralized energy systems by cutting carbon pollution, but we can also reduce society’s vulnerability to climate change.
- There are already myriad examples to point to, from Puerto Ricans with rooftop solar who had power after Hurricane Maria to some Tesla owners using their cars to stay warm during last year’s Texas blackouts. (Both those disasters also show the vulnerabilities of a fossil fuel-powered grid.)
- The IPCC also references microgrids, basically self-contained grids that can power neighborhoods, as another tool that can keep the lights on and reduce air pollution, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
These are not exactly splashy solutions, though no shade to solar panels. Instead, we’ve seen an increasing interest, particularly among venture capitalists, in carbon dioxide removal.
- The full 3,675-page report notes that all the scenarios the IPCC runs where we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) — a target that’s crucial to the continued existence of small island states and millions of other people around the world — require some form of carbon dioxide removal to stabilize the climate.
- However, the report warns of “trade-offs” and the risk of maladaptation if we put too many eggs in the carbon removal basket.
There are lots of ways to suck carbon dioxide from the sky. Planting trees and growing kelp are some of the more natural ways to do it. Other options focus on new, unproven technologies that pull the climate pollutant from the air. While we need to figure out how to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at scale, the report shows there are a few pitfalls.
- Marc Benioff has pushed the idea of planting 1 trillion trees. I love forests as much as the next person — I was a freaking park ranger — but figuring out where to put those trees is a whole other story.
- Tree planting at the scale needed to reduce carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere could mean turning farmland into forests, which would have an impact on food security. If the past is any prologue, it’s not like the world has a great track record of ensuring burdens are shouldered equitably, meaning that a tree-planting program could fall on the Global South.
- There are also questions on what exactly all those trees would look like; would it be a monocrop focused solely on sucking up carbon dioxide that kills local biodiversity? Would local communities get a say in what gets planted? These are big questions, ones the world needs to collectively answer before pursuing what’s essentially a planetary terraforming experiment.
Any kind of solution like that is years — if not decades — away. The report also shows we need to act right now, and that doing so with the technology we have will pay dividends by reducing the effects of climate change and improving resilience to the more violent weather already in the pipeline.
The real world offers a similar lesson. Oil and gas have become a central discussion as the world grapples with the Russian war against Ukraine. Europe is hooked on Russian gas, and sanctions against the petrostate have so far skirted the industry. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels isn’t just good for the climate; it can also help improve resiliency and curtail the power of Russia and other authoritarian states that have oil-dependent economies. As if we needed another reason to kick fossil fuels to the curb.
Stories like this and more are coming in Protocol’s climate newsletter, which is launching next month. Sign up here.
On the calendar
So you decided to go multicloud. Now what?
It’s never been easier to use multiple cloud providers for modern tech infrastructure needs, but should you use multiple cloud providers? A panel of experts will explain the arguments for and against multicloud computing and how businesses should think about their options as the market evolves. Join us at 10 a.m. PT tomorrow. RSVP here.
A MESSAGE FROM MODERN TREASURY
Payment operations can drain time and energy from Finance, Product, and Engineering teams that would otherwise drive growth and deliver greater value to customers. Unsurprisingly, 86% of leaders are now prioritizing improvements to their payment operations. Download our report to learn the costliest payment-related challenges and how fast-moving companies are solving them.
People are talking
Leaders of Poland and the Baltics wrote a letter asking Big Tech to fight harder against Russian disinformation:
- “Although the online platforms have undertaken significant efforts to address the Russian government’s unprecedented assault on truth, they have not done enough.”
The cyberwarfare between Russia and Ukraine will have effects far beyond those two countries, Sophos' Sean Gallagher said:
- “Since there’s so much shared infrastructure in the world, the likelihood of that spilling over and affecting other people is very high. The internet knows no boundaries.”
SoftBank Vision Fund's Catherine Lenson said talking with purpose and clarity is the best way to keep employees around:
- “It's never been more important for senior management to be transparent and accountable.”
LinkedIn bought Oribi, a marketing attribution tech startup, in a deal that reportedly cost between $80 million and $90 million.
Zip is buying Sezzle, a buy now pay later firm, for over $350 million.
Ashneer Grover left BharatPe as a board member and managing director following what he called "baseless and targeted attacks" on him and his family. Grover initially took a leave of absence from the Indian fintech in January.
Solmaz Shahalizadeh and two of her deputies are leaving Shopify, according to The Information. Shahalizadeh was the company's head of Data Science.
Tomer Barel is Melio’s new COO. Barrel is a former Meta and PayPal exec.
Kyle Vogt is officially the CEO of Cruise again. Vogt had been the company’s interim head since Dan Ammann left in December.
In other news
Joe Biden will talk tech during his State of the Union speech today, and will cover Intel’s new factory, a bill that would help gig workers unionize, skills-based hiring and a big U.S. science and tech package.
Twitter added labels to posts from Russian state-affiliated media in an effort to reduce the amount of content coming from these sites.
Microsoft, Meta and Netflix aren’t allowing Russian state media on their platforms. Microsoft is taking down mobile apps from the Russian state-owned media outlet RT, Meta is restricting access to Russian state media across the EU, and Netflix won’t add Russian channels on its platform.
Russia asked TikTok to stop suggesting military content to minors after finding posts related to the country’s “special military operation.”
IGTV is dead. If you're thinking, "I forgot about IGTV!" then, well, that's the point. Instagram's shift toward entertainment continues, but no longer in a separate app.
Inside Ukraine’s meme war: The country’s official Twitter account has made sarcastic posts about Russia many times over the years, but now they’re getting attention from the rest of the world.
TikTok may soon let users make 10-minute-long videos. The platform has slowly increased the maximum amount of time for a video from 15 seconds to 60 seconds to three minutes.
Masks are now optional in Amazon warehouses. The policy applies to workers regardless of vaccination status, but Amazon still recommends that unvaccinated workers wear a mask.
What people are saying about ‘Super Pumped’
The first episode of “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” dropped on Sunday. Here’s a look at what some people had to say about it:
- Decider’s Joel Keller wasn’t a huge fan. “Shows about real-life techbros all seem to take on the same tone. They’re aggressive and in the viewers’ faces … That’s what we get in the first 20 minutes of [the episode], and it’s a real turn-off.”
- SFGate’s culture reporter deleted the Uber app after watching. “The extent to which the company went to hide its misdeeds is truly extraordinary.”
- Vulture’s Scott Tobias thinks “Super Pumped” is more “The Wolf of Wall Street” than “Social Network.”
- Some people, mostly early Uber employees, had some quibbles with the show’s accuracy.
- But it did get at least one thing right.
A MESSAGE FROM MODERN TREASURY
Scaling a company that moves money isn’t easy. Bad process, software, or luck can lead to costly errors, and worse, distract from your main priorities. Yet, many companies still struggle to build scalable payment infrastructure. Download our report to learn the main barriers companies face upgrading their payment operations.
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