What We Discuss with Mike Kelland:
- The regressive consequences of climate change denial (and why the climate crisis isn’t a hoax no matter what your nutty uncle said throughout the entirety of Thanksgiving dinner).
- The role carbon plays in climate change.
- Current and projected methods of removing carbon from the environment.
- How Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement (OAE) enables the ocean to safely capture excess atmospheric carbon while combating the effects of ocean acidification.
- The role of companies in accelerating carbon removal.
- And much more…
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Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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This Episode Is Sponsored By:
- US Bank: Apply for the US Bank Cash Plus Visa Signature Card at usbank.com/cashpluscard
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Want to hear the episode where we talked about “mad” politics, long walks in warzones, and ensuring our charitable donations actually aid people in need? Listen to episode 867: Rory Stewart | Walking Across Afghanistan and Iran here!
Thanks, Mike Kelland!
If you enjoyed this session with Mike Kelland, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Resources from This Episode:
- Restore the Climate. Heal the Ocean | Planetary Technologies
- Mike Kelland | Twitter
- Mike Kelland | LinkedIn
- How Scientists Harness the Ocean’s Power to Fight Climate Change | Today
- Climate Tech Startup Planetary Technologies Wins $1M XPRIZE Carbon Removal Milestone Award | Business Wire
- Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) | ClimateWorks Foundation
- CDR.fyi 2022 Year in Review: Understanding the Key Trends in Carbon Removal | Medium
- Buying Carbon Removal, Explained | Shopify’s Guide
- Report on Climate Impacts and Mitigation | IPCC
- Dalhousie Receives Historic $154‑Million Investment to Study the Ocean’s Pivotal Role in Climate Change | Dal News
- Cornwall Community Information Session | Zoom
- Dumping Laxatives Into the Ocean to Fight Climate Change by Will Lockett | Medium
- Protesters Urge Caution over St Ives Climate Trial Amid Chemical Plans for Bay | The Guardian
932: Mike Kelland | A Planetary Approach to Fixing the Climate Crisis
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to US Bank for sponsoring this episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:08] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people and turn their wisdom into practical advice that you can use to impact your own life and those around you. Our mission is to help you become a better informed, more critical thinker through long-form conversations with a variety of amazing folks, from spies to CEOs, athletes, authors, thinkers, performers, even the occasional hostage negotiator, astronaut, music mogul, or tech luminary.
[00:00:36] And if you're new to the show or you want to tell your friends about the show, our starter packs are a great place to begin. These are collections of our favorite episodes on persuasion and negotiation, psychology and geopolitics, disinformation and cyber warfare, crime and cults and more. It'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. Just visit jordanharbinger.com/start or search for us in your Spotify app to get started.
[00:00:58] Today on the show, even if you think climate change is a lost cause, or you're a climate skeptic, whatever that even means these days. We all end up in the same place in the end with too much carbon in the atmosphere causing a ton of problems, including and especially global warming. So no matter where you fall on this one, the carbon has to be removed from the atmosphere faster than we are putting it in. But how do we do that? How do we even begin to take carbon out of the atmosphere?
[00:01:25] Today's guest, Mike Kelland, founder of Planetary Technologies, which sounds like something from a Superman comic if I'm being completely honest, he has a very unique geoengineering take on removing carbon from the atmosphere, something that's actually potentially feasible so far and holds a ton of promise for reversing climate change. Finally, some good news with respect to the environment, even if practical application and implementation of this is still a ways off.
[00:01:49] I wanted to do something lighter, folks. We've had Israel and Hamas and all these conflict stuff and stuff about environmental damage. And it's just like, you know, we're trying to Christmas shop. Can we just hear something that's not doom and gloom? That's what this is. So it's my little early Christmas gift to all of you and also to my own psyche.
[00:02:09] Here we go with Mike Kelland.
[00:02:15] I feel bad for the person who doesn't know that climate change is a thing. I know some people deny that it's happening, but now I think even some of the most ardent anti-climate folks are now saying it's not human caused. It's a natural cycle, but in truth, it doesn't necessarily matter because we're going to kill ourselves if we contribute to it, or even if it's natural and we're not contributing to it, which I don't think that many people believe. We still need to figure out how to geo engineer our way out of killing half of, or all of humanity from climate change, natural or not.
[00:02:45] Mike Kelland: Yeah. What I'm seeing anyway in that sort of space is you're going from, it's not a problem, it's not a thing, it's not human caused, whatever.
[00:02:52] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:02:52] Mike Kelland: And now the debate is moving towards, well, we can't do anything about it anyway, so don't worry about it.
[00:02:56] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. The goalposts have moved from some folks, right?
[00:02:59] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:02:59] Jordan Harbinger: It was, this is not happening to, it's not human caused to now, okay, it's human caused, but there's nothing we can do about it. It's a little frustrating to see that, and I will say it's a very small number of people that are doing that.
[00:03:15] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:03:16] Jordan Harbinger: But the problem is they're a disproportionate voice in this, and I'm not anti-fossil fuels, obviously we need fossil fuels in developing countries, especially need fossil fuels. I understand that.
[00:03:25] Mike Kelland: Mm-hmm.
[00:03:25] Jordan Harbinger: Green energy is not really that green. We screwed up our nuclear play, but even if the most generous interpretation, the most steel man, okay, humans didn't cause this at all. Again, I don't agree with that, and it's completely natural and there's nothing we can do about it. That's where I'm going to argue with you. Right? And that's what you're saying is. Look, we're not just all going to die because we've screwed up the planet and we're going to kill biodiversity or whatever. The worst case scenario is we can start to figure out how to remove carbon from our atmosphere. How much time do we have to figure that out? I guess that's a good place to start.
[00:03:58] Mike Kelland: There's a lot of this kind of modeling that happens, right? In terms of climate impacts, how long we have, how much, what they call carbon budget, we have left. It's a really interesting thing because it's hard to do any of this stuff unless you have some sort of target or some sort of goalpost. So you'll hear at 1.5 degrees, you'll hear two degrees Celsius. You'll hear all these kinds of things, and those are important lines. But if you think about it, we're at about 1.1 degrees Celsius already now.
[00:04:23] Jordan Harbinger: Above what? The temperature that we're, quote-unquote, "supposed to be" at for this time of year. How do they do that?
[00:04:29] Mike Kelland: It's basically how it works is you look at the average temperature across the earth before the industrial revolution started. Then you compare that with the average temperature on an average year now. The graph is really bumpy in terms of what they call the temperature anomaly graph. It was warmer than average here. It was colder than average here, all this kind of stuff. But they average it all out and then they come up with a number. You know, if you think about, it's not just time-based, it's also, was it warmer this July than it was in July 1850 or whatever.
[00:04:56] Jordan Harbinger: This is like, I weigh myself every day and it's like, you're eight pounds heavier than you were last year. And I'm like, screw you, Wi-Fi scale. Did I ask you? I didn't.
[00:05:05] Mike Kelland: And then you check it again at noon and you're like, oh, cool. I've lost 12 pounds since this morning.
[00:05:09] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:05:10] Mike Kelland: Here's the big place. And so when you look at it, it's like, what does 1.1 degree mean?
[00:05:15] Jordan Harbinger: It sounds so small.
[00:05:16] Mike Kelland: It sounds so small, but it means the Arctic is six degrees warmer.
[00:05:18] Jordan Harbinger: Oh.
[00:05:19] Mike Kelland: That's how it all kinda works. But 1.11 is worse than like 1.1. Right? And 1.12 is worse than 1.1. The impacts of that actually get worse in an exponential basis. And so 1.3 is worse than the difference between like 1.1 and 1.2. Do you know what I mean? Like it gets worse as time goes on.
[00:05:39] Jordan Harbinger: It's not just like, hey, this is 11 percent worse. The first increment was 10 percent worse.
[00:05:44] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:05:44] Jordan Harbinger: The second increment is 30 percent worse. The third increment is 50 percent worse, and so on. It's not linear. Because I was just thinking 1.1, okay. I didn't realize that means that, of course, certain places that are more temperature sensitive are much warmer.
[00:05:59] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:05:59] Jordan Harbinger: And other places where it's already hot AF like on the equator, they see less of a change or the change means less. And so you're seeing maybe fragile ecosystems like the rainforest or arctic ice and it's like, no. Now it's 10 degrees warmer than it was. That 10 degrees is the difference between a bunch of new ice freezing and current ice. That's ancient melting. And that's the problem.
[00:06:21] Mike Kelland: Exactly.
[00:06:21] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:06:22] Mike Kelland: That's part of the problem. And so when you look at it, these 1.5 and two degrees Celsius, they're shorthands, they're easy ways of saying, okay, here's a line in this hand and here's what's going to happen if we get there. And so you go and say what happens at 1.5? And, and you know, I care about the oceans. That's why we work on is oceans and all this stuff. So corals really interesting sort of climate responsive organism, they really respond to the climate really directly. At 1.5, you lose 70 to 90 percent of the corals on earth. They're all gone. At two degrees, it's 99 percent. That's the difference between those numbers.
[00:06:55] But one of the things that's dangerous, in a way about drawing those lines in the sand is you get into this point where people are like, there's no way we're going to hit 1.5, so who cares anymore? And it's kind of like, no 1.6 is worse than 1.5. Keep trying. You can't look at that as an end. It's a milestone. And if you don't make 1.5, well, you got to make 1.6 and you don't make 1.6, you got to make 1.7.
[00:07:16] And so to me, when we talk about people being like, "Oh, well, there's nothing we can do about it." That's not just people who are trying to say, "Don't worry about climate." It's something that's built into our whole society. Like it's across the board, and I think it's really a bad thing. We all have to be driven to action on this in whatever way we can.
[00:07:33] Jordan Harbinger: What's a bad thing? Completely giving up on humanity.
[00:07:36] Mike Kelland: Yeah. Don't do that. Don't do that.
[00:07:38] Jordan Harbinger: I think we can all agree on that.
[00:07:40] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:07:40] Jordan Harbinger: CO2 concentrations are the highest they've been in 2 million years. That's a long ass time and natural cycle or not, it's hard to imagine the earth and the life on it that's evolved during that time being okay with that, physically
[00:07:55] Mike Kelland: it's not. You know, when you look at humanity, you look at the history of humanity, we're really good at living in certain climate, humans as a whole. One of the things we often talk about is like, okay, are you going out there to try to save the world with this? Not really. You're trying to save humanity. We're not well adapted outside of this kind of climactic range that we've evolved in and that we're really work well in.
[00:08:16] And so a big part of the climate fight to me is, you know, you're trying to preserve the world we live in, but you're also trying to preserve our health and wealth and the entirety of humanity in the process. And that's really important to, I think, have that lens on it, that this is a fight for our future, for us, our way of life, rather than thinking of it as some sort of altruistic thing.
[00:08:38] This is something we do for us. This is saving ourselves from climate change. And I think that's a really important framing.
[00:08:42] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I think you're right. And also I have kids, so the whole thing takes on new meaning, right?
[00:08:46] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:08:46] Jordan Harbinger: I get why when people don't have kids, they're like, "You know what? This seems unsolvable. I'm just going to go to Spain and chill." I probably would do the same thing, but having kids, you're like, "Do I want them to have to live in a hurricane proof bunker with no windows because of whatever's going on outside." And yes, I'm exaggerating a little, but not really because the weather we're seeing now is crazy and it's not a coincidence that that's happening from climate change.
[00:09:11] The news constantly right now is the heat wave every day is hotter. Oh man, actually, today's the hottest day on record. And then the fires that emitted all these emissions in Canada that went down to the northeastern US and China. I follow Chinese news, and I'm not sure if you do, but they're having floods that are just, the floods there are so apocalyptic that in China has this cultural thing where when there's a lot of disasters, it means the emperor, the regime needs to change. And Xi Jinping doesn't like that because he's their new emperor.
[00:09:39] Mike Kelland: Right.
[00:09:39] Jordan Harbinger: It's like a bad omen. It's that bad that people are talking about that. That's crazy, right? When you have something that's almost biblical saying, "Hey, maybe we need regime change," in a country like China. These are some gnarly floods.
[00:09:52] Mike Kelland: It's crazy. I think it's coming home to roost for a lot of people. That weather is not something that's happening somewhere else. It's not abstract anymore. It's sort of like, oh, climate change. Yeah, I've heard about that. And stuff's maybe happening. It's suddenly now, it's coming home to people. And I think one of the biggest questions, what do you do about it?
[00:10:09] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:09] Mike Kelland: And we've actually been conditioned in a lot of ways, I think, to do the wrong thing about climate change. So there's this concept of the personal carbon footprint. You heard of the personal carbon footprint? You know, you calculate your own emissions.
[00:10:23] Jordan Harbinger: So what is that? Just like how much I'm using by buying phones and driving and flying around.
[00:10:29] Mike Kelland: Yeah, exactly. There's sort of this idea out there that the only thing we can personally do is cut our own emissions. Right? And it's a fun little fact, but the idea of the personal carbon footprint was created by an ad agency. Ogilvy & Mather —
[00:10:44] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:10:45] Mike Kelland: — created this concept of calculate your own carbon footprint and reduce your own footprint on behalf of British petroleum, so BP.
[00:10:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, I was going to say, so this sounds like a Chevron idea where they're like, Hey, if we make consumers walk to the grocery store, we can keep dumping whatever it is, or pumping fossil fuels out of the earth and not worry about our emissions doing that. And I get it. I understand that. Hashtag capitalism stuff, but it's buying electric car. Okay, cool. But then the cobalt is mined by like child slavery using explosives.
[00:11:17] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:11:17] Jordan Harbinger: And burning down the rainforest to get it. And I'm not really doing that there either. It seems like the kind of thing where, let's say we get every person on the earth to have a low carbon footprint, we cut it by 50 percent per person. Cool. One company then makes up that difference by pumping fossil fuels, whatever out of the ocean floor. It's one percent of the problem.
[00:11:36] Mike Kelland: So two things on that. Right? So one of them is. The cobalt concept there, right? It's bad how they mind cobalt. And I totally agree with that. The challenge is that you can't let solving one problem stop you from solving another. You can't let that prevent you from doing something about climate change because to me, it's a foundational issue. You can go and say, we're going to protect biodiversity, we're going to increase wealth, we're going to solve poverty, we're going to do, but if you don't solve the underlying issue, which is going to be climate change, all of that is going to fall apart. You just can't maintain that.
[00:12:08] And so to an extent, you have to say, okay, where do you focus your energy first? And to me, it's on go do something about climate change and that idea of the personal carbon footprint, I've got to do my own thing. It's a good idea, but it prevents you from doing the things that really matter.
[00:12:22] So the shift that we're seeing now, this concept that I read the other day that I really love is the idea of your climate shadow rather than your climate footprint. If you prevent yourself from flying, if you stop driving places, all this kind of stuff, you're actually muting your potential impact on things that are maybe much, much larger. You can't go and advocate and get political about things, which has a higher leverage, much higher leverage on climate than other things.
[00:12:48] And that was the point of that carbon footprint thing is like if you feel like you're not doing your part, you can't hold the big companies to account. How can you reconcile that with yourself if you're not doing your part? But that's what we have to be doing. We have to be looking at high leverage activities and really working hard to fix the climate at, you know, the global scale.
[00:13:06] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, that's an interesting point. I hadn't thought about that. It's like the kid who flies to Washington DC to talk to his congressman is doing more than the kid who sat home and was like, "Well, I didn't take that flight."
[00:13:16] Mike Kelland: Exactly.
[00:13:17] Jordan Harbinger: There's something to be said for that. I had never looked at it that way. When I look at these global temperature limits the world has set out, they're saying, okay, at 1.5, we are really running into a problem, but —
[00:13:28] Mike Kelland: Right.
[00:13:28] Jordan Harbinger: — we're going to hit that tomorrow. Isn't that 2030?
[00:13:31] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:13:31] Jordan Harbinger: There's people listening to this and it's already 2030.
[00:13:34] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:13:34] Jordan Harbinger: And they're going, "Oh crap, we're on the way to two."
[00:13:37] Mike Kelland: Yeah. It's really tough. I think that we've got a really limited amount of time, and the craziest thing about this is that we've had a limited amount of time for a long time, right. There's this really cool graph you can see, which is like, what if we'd stopped cutting emissions 30 years ago?
[00:13:51] And then there's a very gradual slope to the emission cuts that you would need to make to keep ourselves under 1.5. And then it's like, what about falling year? What about falling year? What about the falling year? We're at a point now where if you look at that graph, what emission cuts are required to keep us under 1.5? It's practically vertical. You just have to like, oh, let's turn everything off tomorrow.
[00:14:09] Jordan Harbinger: Shut down the entire planet and then wait 50 years.
[00:14:12] Mike Kelland: Yeah, and it is not quite that stark. Like I say, we've got five to 10 years and there's some good signs, especially in the developed world. Some of the emissions are bending downwards, but it's not universal and the world as a whole, we're still going up and we really need to be least plateauing at this point and coming back down.
[00:14:27] And that's why I think for what we are doing, which is what's called carbon dioxide removal, this becomes really important because the longer we go without bending that curve down, the more we're going to have to actually pull out of the air, actually suck carbon out of the air in order to keep ourselves within somewhat safe limits.
[00:14:46] That's the technology we're working on, and it's an important tool in this whole climate portfolio, if you will or set of climate solutions.
[00:14:53] Jordan Harbinger: So we have to basically cut emissions by half by 2030, net zero by 2050 or whatever the year is that they have that. But in addition to that, we need to be removing a ton of carbon from the atmosphere on top of also planting trees.
[00:15:09] How much carbon do we need to remove from the atmosphere? Because I want to say a ton, but it's actually like millions and millions of tons.
[00:15:16] Mike Kelland: It's billions. It's actually, it could be as much as a trillion tons. And so you look at the range is insane. The models that we have are predicting so many different things about how fast we decarbonize and how it all comes together and what the pathways are and all that stuff. So the range is big, but to stay under that 1.5 number, even if we do decarbonize incredibly rapidly. It's on the order of between like 30 and a little over a thousand billion tons of carbon removed from the atmosphere.
[00:15:46] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:15:46] Mike Kelland: Between now and 2100, it's insane. To give you a sense of scale, total amount of crude oil that we extract right now, every year, two to three billion tons.
[00:15:56] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:15:56] Mike Kelland: And so we are talking about making carbon removal bigger than the oil industry over the course of the next 27 years if we want to accomplish that outcome. So it's insane. It's a crazy requirement.
[00:16:09] Jordan Harbinger: That is hard to imagine. Anybody who's ever seen an oil well, you see all that stuff coming out.
[00:16:14] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:16:14] Jordan Harbinger: That's one oil. Well, we need to be doing that in reverse.
[00:16:17] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:16:18] Jordan Harbinger: Times, I don't know, five or whatever. Right? And it has to be profitable or nobody's going to do it because you can't create these trillion dollar companies that are extractive and do that in reverse without it bankrupting the entire country that does it. So no one's going to do that. So it has to be profitable. Not a small mission to do something like this.
[00:16:39] Mike Kelland: No, it's insane.
[00:16:40] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, God, the weight of that is cra. That's like a mountain of carbon put back into the ground. Unbelievable.
[00:16:47] Okay. What's the plan, man? Because that's a lot and it doesn't sound like something you could possibly do. I mean, I've seen these machines that run air through them and they supposedly take carbon out. I can't imagine you would need a billion of those things. Every house would have to have one on the roof and have to run on solar energy to put even a dent in this problem. It's just not realistic.
[00:17:09] Mike Kelland: The key thing is if we don't reduce the emissions down, then you're not going to get there.
[00:17:13] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:17:14] Mike Kelland: So the math we use when we're talking about this is we say, look, we're emitting somewhere in the range of like 50 billion tons a year. Right now we're like throwing 50 billion tons of CO2 up in the air right now as our economy. So we've got to cut that down to about five by 2050 and we got to do a lot of it by 2030 and then down to about five billion tons of emissions by 2050. And that five billion tons, we're probably not going to get that out of the economy. It's impossible to get that last five billion tons out.
[00:17:42] And so carbon removal, what it has to do is not deal with all of that. It has to deal with that last five. And then if we want to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius, we got to do another five, 10 billion tons a year between 2050 and 2100. Things are still going to be pretty heavily impacted by climate change. We're going to lose a lot. We're going to lose a lot of corals. We're going to have migrations, we're going to have all the crazy weather we're having now, plus in different parts of the world, a lot of famine and stuff like this and droughts.
[00:18:07] But that seems like the edge of realistic. That's probably the best we're going to be able to accomplish. And then to do that, you have to have all these various different technologies. And getting to 10 gigatons by 2050, 27 years from now, 2023 today, is a huge undertaking.
[00:18:25] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:18:26] Mike Kelland: Right now, the carbon removal industry has removed a total of, I think 0.04 percent of that. Okay. And so you're going from zero to two times, three times the size of the oil industry in 27 years. It's a big undertaking, but the technologies exist. They're there. They have to be scaled, they have to be profitable, like you said, that's really important. They have to be put into that system. And what we have to do to do that is we have to value the problem. We basically have to, on the world stage, include the value of carbon in everything that we do.
[00:18:59] So if you have a product and then emits carbon, then it has to have some sort of value associated with that carbon emission that that company has to pay or something like that. There's a lot of different schemes for that, but it has to end up making that industry fundamentally profitable.
[00:19:14] Jordan Harbinger: You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Mike Kelland. We'll be right back.
[00:19:19] This episode is sponsored in part by DeleteMe. Data Brokers, they collect, analyze and sell your personal information without explicit consent so they can know your browsing history, purchase records, social media activity, as well as your name, birthday address, phone number, and more, which you know people can use to steal your identity and worse. This is a real worry. Doxxing, phishing scams, phone scams, that's where DeleteMe comes into play. They sweep in to scrub your info from the clutches of these data brokers. What's really cool about them is their approach. They've got an actual team of people who first check to see if a data broker even has your info before making a move to delete it. So they're careful not to inadvertently hand over your details to somebody who shouldn't have them to begin with. And it's not just a tool for those who are tech savvy. DeleteMe is helpful for folks like my parents who are in their 70s, 80s, who are frankly just more vulnerable to scams. And the best part is getting started is really easy. Just input your details online. They take care of the rest while keeping you in the loop with a report detailing their actions. I've signed up myself. I've signed up some of my family members. I'm looking forward to checking out the dashboard to see what they've managed to clear up.
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[00:20:44] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by BetterHelp. During the festive season, we're all about decking those halls and exchanging gifts. But in the whirlwind of holiday cheer, we often forget a VIP on our guest list, namely ourselves. Sure, it's a great to play Santa for everybody else, but remember, the holidays ain't just about tinsel and gingerbread houses. They can also bring a slay load of stress. That's where the art of self-gifting comes in. What is a better present than a little piece of mind? A little sanity. BetterHelp therapy is the gift that doesn't require wrapping. This online therapy service is like having a wise elf, but like you know, a licensed therapist instead, right from the comfort of your living room, minus the pointy ears, I guess, depending on the therapist. It's a perfect fit for the hectic holiday season, offering you a cozy corner of the Internet to unwind, understand your feelings, and maybe vent about a little family drama, just fill out a brief questionnaire, get matched with a licensed therapist and switch therapist at any time for no additional charge.
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[00:21:45] Jordan Harbinger: If you're wondering how I managed to book all these great authors, thinkers and creators, scientists and inventors every single week, it's because of the circle of people that I know, like, and trust, otherwise known as my network. That word's kind of gross, but think about it. Think about your Christmas network, the people that you actually like, that you want to be around spending all those time with them. Who have you not kept in touch with lately who would love to hear from you this holiday season? But what do you say? Well, I've got scripts for you over at jordanharbinger.com/course. The course is about reconnecting with people you haven't spoken to in a long time. That might be important to you, but doing it in a way that is not gross and doesn't make you look like you're going to try and sell them protein shakes or multi-level marketing pyramid scheme. And many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. It just takes a few minutes a day. You'll be in smart company where you belong. You can find the course at jordanharbinger.com/course.
[00:22:34] Now, back to Mike Kelland.
[00:22:37] It's almost like carbon tax, but then instead of the tax going to the pocket of the dictator of the country or some stupid other scheme, it has to actually go to removing that same carbon that you are putting into the atmosphere. Otherwise, it's the whole like, "Hey, the schools are underfunded. Let's make the lottery. Oh, actually let's take that money and build a new stadium because screw public schools, we'll pay them later. Maybe." Just kidding. It can't be that.
[00:23:04] Mike Kelland: It can't be that. And you know, we have what's called carbon finance, which is actually a really big industry right now. So it's hundreds of billions of dollars of going to pay for carbon in various different ways. But like you say, there's different goals of those things and there's different ways that they work. So, a lot of the money that goes into carbon right now, you're trading your allowances. It's called an offset. So it's like, okay, you were allowed to emit a hundred tons. I was allowed to emit a hundred tons. You only emitted 80, I emitted 120. I've got to buy 20 from you.
[00:23:32] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:23:33] Mike Kelland: Right. So that's an accounting exercise, which is great for lowering emissions, but it doesn't do anything to take carbon out of the air. And it's a very different thing. And that's where most of it goes right now. And then in the removal side, we have what's called land use and natural solutions, which is like, oh, let's go plant a bunch of trees and let's plant some sea grass and reforest something, which is great, super helpful, but has limited global scalability and it's very impermanent.
[00:23:58] We've seen in Canada, we had a quarter of Canada's emissions, went up in smoke in the forest fires at the beginning of the summer. So all of that stored carbon that was in all those trees is suddenly back up in the atmosphere. And so it's really susceptible to climate risks fundamentally of that stored carbon going back.
[00:24:16] Jordan Harbinger: I see.
[00:24:16] Mike Kelland: And so it, it's not really very permanent.
[00:24:18] Jordan Harbinger: So Canada's basically going to release 25 percent more emissions just because of giant forest fires this year.
[00:24:24] Mike Kelland: They're lucky that they've managed to lobby the international community not to count that within their emissions, so they don't count any land use emissions and things like that within their budgeting. But yeah, basically Canada omitted another 170 million tons this year because of all these forest fires.
[00:24:39] So when we talk about that carbon removal at the massive gigaton scale, we can't just do it by planting trees and we can't do it with the current sort of what they call offsets and you know, the trading of credits and things. We have to do it by permanently removing carbon from the atmosphere.
[00:24:52] And there's a lot of different technologies for that. You know, they're not scaled yet. There's big news yesterday, one of the big direct air capture firms. So one of these big companies that puts fans and pulls air through and then sucks the carbon up and puts it in a tank and then buries it back underground. They were bought by Occidental Petroleum for $1.1 billion. So there's definitely some interest and some growth in the space, but it's still emerging for sure. And the scaling up of that's going to be a huge endeavor. Like it's going to be a really, really hard thing for us to do in the timeframe we have.
[00:25:21] Jordan Harbinger: Well, it's good that the technology actually exists because I didn't even know that until I started researching this. And I also didn't know that most of the carbon on the earth, on the earth's surface actually lives in the ocean. And there's natural processes that do this rock weathering, which I suppose is like a version of what Planetary actually does. And then there's ways that it can be dissolved out of the air to balance, but then your oceans become acidic. Isn't that just kind of like when you use the soda stream and you put carbon dioxide in the water and it sparkles? We don't want that to happen to the ocean. Sounds delicious. But it's not good for the fish.
[00:25:54] Mike Kelland: That's exactly right. So the way we explain it is there's two processes that put carbon into the ocean. And the ocean does store like you're absolutely right. It stores most of the carbon on the Earth's surface. 88 percent of the carbon on the earth's surfaces in the chemistry of the ocean. And that means it's not in plants or in animals or in rocks. It's actually dissolved in the ocean water.
[00:26:16] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I didn't know that. I thought you were going to make something that sinks to the bottom, like this is a terrible idea, but it's just in the water. You can't tell that it's even there.
[00:26:23] Mike Kelland: That's right. And it's essential because everything in the ocean that forms a shell or a bone or anything like that makes it out of this carbon that's in the ocean.
[00:26:31] So all this what's called calcium carbonate, which is the same stuff that's in your toothpaste or in the cement in your house or whatever that calcium carbonate is, what oyster shells are made out of, crab shells, corals, all this kind of stuff. And so the way that it gets there is on earth we've got this cool little thermostat type action that happens where you get rain, dissolves all the CO2 out of the atmosphere, and then that rain falls down onto rocks around the world.
[00:26:56] And because CO2, when it's in water is an acid, it weathers off the top layer that dissolves the top layer of that rock and then neutralizes the acid and forms carbon salt. It's called a bicarbonate, the exact thing. You've got it in your house. It's baking soda.
[00:27:11] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to say, isn't baking soda bicarbonate? Yeah. So it's basically just creates baking soda and then washes into the water.
[00:27:16] Mike Kelland: Yep. And then that's been happening for millennium, millennium millennia. And it really has been on really long time scales, like hundreds of thousands of years, moderating the amount of carbon dioxide that's in the atmosphere. So if we just stopped everything and said, okay, we're not emitting another ton of CO2 and everybody go to sleep for 200,000 years, we'd be coming back and like this process would've rebalanced all the carbon in the atmosphere and it would be all sitting in the chemistry of the ocean as bicarbonate.
[00:27:40] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:27:40] Mike Kelland: So that's the good way, if you will, that it makes the ocean slightly basic sodium bicarbonate, slightly basic. If you mix it with an acid vinegar, you get that neutralization reaction. So that's a good thing. But then what happens when you radically and rapidly increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is that it also dissolves directly in there. And that happens much faster than this rock weathering process.
[00:28:01] So you get CO2 built up in the air. CO2 is really good at dissolving into water. And so it balances out the concentrations between the air and the ocean. Put a little more CO2 in the air, you're going to get some portion of that. About a third of it is going to dissolve into the ocean.
[00:28:18] And so as that happens, that CO2, which becomes an acid in water, it acidifies that water and it actually makes it harder for all those organisms to get access to those carbonates. It dissolves the shells of plankton and shellfish and all these kinds of things, and that acidification is a really negative part of climate change as well.
[00:28:35] Jordan Harbinger: Is this why the corals bleach and then eventually die? Is that part of that?
[00:28:40] Mike Kelland: It is a little, you know, acidification certainly makes corals less resilient to heat events that would bleach them out and stuff like that. So usually it's actually marine heat waves. The ocean is like our climate buffer, right?
[00:28:51] So 90 percent of additional heat from climate change has been absorbed by the ocean, and 30 percent of the extra CO2 is as acid in the ocean. So it's a huge buffer. If we didn't have two-thirds of the Earth's surface covered in ocean, we would have a way worse climate problem than we have now. So it's this big buffer for that stuff.
[00:29:09] Jordan Harbinger: And luckily, it's the majority of the planet.
[00:29:11] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:29:11] Jordan Harbinger: But it still can't keep up with what we're dumping into the air.
[00:29:14] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:29:14] Jordan Harbinger: So how do we speed up the rock weathering cycle or is that not possible?
[00:29:19] Mike Kelland: So that's exactly what we do. So if you think about it with that rock weathering, the reason it happens slowly is because you've got very dilute CO2 coming down in rain, and then you've got these rocks that are not very reactive, right? They're just, they're rocks. If you can take a rock and pre-process it, turn it into a more reactive form of base or antacid, you can add that directly to seawater and it can neutralize some of that extra CO2 that's dissolving directly in there. And that has a really cool effect because that bicarbonate that you're forming while you do that neutralization stays in seawater for a hundred thousand years. So you've got this really long-term permanent storage of CO2.
[00:29:57] Jordan Harbinger: Wow. Why suddenly after hundreds of thousands of years, then what happens? I mean, do we know?
[00:30:01] Mike Kelland: Yeah, we do. So it's uh, part of the global carbon cycle. So basically after about a hundred thousand years, I mean, it's really, you can't track an individual molecule, this stuff, but on average it ends up turning into carbonate.
[00:30:12] So bicarbonate carbonate, which releases some of the CO2 back to the atmosphere, and it settles out on the bottom of the ocean through either biological action or just through settling that forms sedimentary rocks. And that's where you get limestone from, that we get cement from and concrete and all that stuff.
[00:30:29] And eventually that'll sub abduct through tectonic action and over millions and millions of years, it'll come back to the atmosphere through volcanic action. It's a whole cycle, but it's a really slow, really long cycle.
[00:30:39] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Normally I don't go, oh, well that's a problem for future humanity, but if we're talking about a hundred thousand plus years, I feel okay doing it. Hopefully, by then they'll have figured out, they'll be like, "Oh, that's an earth problem. I haven't thought about Earth in a long time." Yeah.
[00:30:52] Mike Kelland: Yeah, exactly. If you can put enough antacid into the ocean, you can slurp up a whole lot of CO2, because as you neutralize that, you're also making room for more CO2 to come out of the sky. So it sort of pulls it down and sequesters it within the chemistry of the seawater.
[00:31:08] Jordan Harbinger: So it really turns the ocean into almost like a sponge for CO2. If you're creating a situation in which it's almost like heat transfer, right? If the water's really cold and you have hot air, some of the heat is going to be absorbed into the water.
[00:31:25] So this is like, oh man, we really need these carbon molecules. Suck it right out of the air, put it in the water, and the water regains its balance. And you're saying, we dump a crap load of Rolaids into the ocean and that is going to suck out millions of tons of carbon.
[00:31:41] Mike Kelland: That's pretty much it.
[00:31:42] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:31:42] Mike Kelland: Yeah. I mean, it sounds so simple.
[00:31:44] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I almost don't believe you.
[00:31:44] Mike Kelland: Yeah. Let's just dump a whole lot of Rolaids into the ocean. I mean, the problem is, right, a couple of different things. One is producing Rolaids. It gives you a lot of carbon emissions. So producing that antacid is hard, and this is a human thing. This doesn't really impact the way that the ocean works or anything like that. But if you want to be able to make this profitable, you also have to be able to measure it. And the ocean is super hard to measure, right? It's really big. It's sloshes around a lot and stuff dilutes out really, really quickly.
[00:32:12] So actually understanding how to measure this stuff is an emerging space that we're doing a lot of work on. So that's a really hard part of the problem as well. But the fundamental mechanism is that simple, add an antacid to sea water. You do it very carefully and then you got to measure it. Those are the complexities around it really. But the mechanism's really simple.
[00:32:32] Jordan Harbinger: How do you start this process? Because you got to figure out creating all that antacid creates carbon. What phase are you at with testing that? Are you able to dump a bunch in and go, "Hey look, this actually worked."
[00:32:44] Mike Kelland: Yeah, for sure. So we've been doing this now for just about four years, and we're getting to the point now over the next few months where we're doing our first, what we call field trial. So they're basically net removals from the atmosphere.
[00:32:56] So we're able to say, even counting the emissions to produce this stuff, we've managed to remove additional CO2 beyond what was produced. So we're putting all the pieces in place. The science of this has been around for several decades. A lot of people have been working on this. My co-founder, Dr. Greg Rau in the company is one of the pioneers in this, and he's been working on it for probably about 20 years, all total.
[00:33:16] So there is a lot of science and background and basis for this work. We started four years ago in the lab. You know, you're in test tubes, you've got your little bottle of Rolaids and you've got your seawater and you're putting one in the other and you're measuring the pH and you're measuring how much carbon's in there. And we've scaled that to big swimming pools and then scaled that to plastic bags in the ocean. So you've got an isolated environment that you can work in.
[00:33:39] And then last year we did the very first actual ocean trial of this, where we did a small amount, it was like four tons that we removed from the atmosphere —
[00:33:47] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:33:47] Mike Kelland: — in the ocean.
[00:33:48] Jordan Harbinger: It's not a lot, but it's also a lot. That's really something.
[00:33:52] Mike Kelland: Well, and by the end of this year, what is crazy, isn't it? We won't have run it continuously, but if we did, the scale of the projects we're doing this year will remove 6,570 tons per year. And we're doing two projects at that scale.
[00:34:08] So we're only going to remove net, I think about 200 tons total this year. But the scale of the additions that we scale up to by November of '23 will be in that 6,500 range, which is pretty huge. And this is the thing about the ocean is that if we do make this work and we can show that at larger and larger scales that it's super safe and that we can measure it and we can show that carbon is removed because the ocean is so huge and because it stores so much of this carbon, it has just the most massive scale potential.
[00:34:39] So if you talk about that gigatons and gigatons scale industry, we need to build, this is the biggest thing we have by almost double any other technology.
[00:34:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, this makes sense, right? Because otherwise you've got to build wind turbines that suck carbon out on everybody's roof, literally the whole world. But the ocean is so massive and it doesn't require a machinery, I mean, you need machinery for other parts of this, but the machinery that takes the carbon out is the ocean. You can't beat that. There's just nothing larger on the planet than the ocean. So turning that into one giant test tube essentially, or beaker, is amazing.
[00:35:13] And I know people are like, "No, it's not. You're going to destroy the ocean." We'll get to that in a second, but I want to start from earlier in the supply chain here. Where do you get the antacid? Because if you can't just buy it because it makes more carbon than it absorbs, are you recycling it? Is there just massive amounts of this stuff laying around somewhere from something else?
[00:35:32] Mike Kelland: So there is, it's a really interesting thing, and this has been a big part of our exploration over the last four years. There's a lot of different people working on this problem. So there's people out there who are building kilns, for example, that will capture the CO2 off the top and produce a low carbon antacid, essentially. There's people that are using electricity and using electric chemistry to do that with renewable energy, there are approaches where you can use a natural mind material that doesn't require a lot of emissions because you can use it directly out of the ground. And that's pretty limited. It's pretty expensive.
[00:36:03] But I think the biggest one, the most interesting one is that there's roughly a billion tons a year of what's called waste alkalinity produced by heavy industry every year. The problem with that is that some of it's okay, but some of it's pretty dirty. It's got metals in it, whatever. And we're looking at different things and different ways that we can clean that up and we're making a lot of really good progress on it.
[00:36:24] So if you can pre-treat it and clean it up, then you can actually use it in a very low cost and in high scale way. So it's out there. It's just processing it very carefully so that it's safe to use in ocean settings and things like that.
[00:36:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, using mine waste or tailings or whatever they're called would be great. And it's, yay. Mine tailings. Hey. All right. Oh, it's got mercury in it. Uh, okay. But we can take the mercury out. Yeah, what an emotional roller coaster here. And I'm glad you didn't say, yeah, we just need to figure out how to do that. Because I was thinking if the answer is okay, we need nuclear fusion that doesn't exist yet, and then we can use that to clean up the antacid or make it and then pull the carbon out of the air.
[00:37:01] It's like, man, we've really messed up this planet. But if science fiction is still the solution, then that's not good. But you'll love to hear good news in this space, really. I feel like it is so rare to have good news, and this seems certainly good news. And so the mine tailings, you can clean those up. And then is it already antacid or it's just, there's antacid as a component to that?
[00:37:20] Mike Kelland: So it's mine. Tailings is one thing. There's also waste from things like steel manufacturing and stuff. There's a lot of stuff out there that has different types of profiles. It all starts as an antacid or that some component of it is an antacid.
[00:37:34] So it might be only 30 percent of the stuff is an antacid and the rest is junky. got to get rid of. It might be that 60 percent of it is antacid and the rest is junky. You got to get rid of. Depends on the source, you have to be really careful about what you use and how you use it and how you characterize it. So that's a big activity that we undertake — cleaning them up, characterizing them, making sure we can use them, all that kind of stuff.
[00:37:52] Jordan Harbinger: Are we just creating another bad byproduct though, because it's, okay, great. We get the end acid and then also, ugh, there's this toxic waste that comes out of it too. We got to figure out what to do with that. What ends up becoming of the rest of this stuff? Where's the catch is? I guess what I'm asking you.
[00:38:07] Mike Kelland: There's always that, right? So managing the waste of a process that is going to be important. There's no question. We're not talking about forever chemicals, we're not talking about plastics or anything like that. We're talking about metals. We're a little better at managing metals than we are at managing some other types of waste.
[00:38:21] In the sources we're looking at today, early on, they're already pretty clean, so they're not going to actually be a big percentage of it that actually has to be managed, but it definitely has to be managed. There's no question. You have to be very careful when you characterize these sources as to what happens to it. A lot of these sources are being landfill anyway already, and so you're really landfill less.
[00:38:39] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:38:39] Mike Kelland: It's higher concentration, so you have to be a little more careful with certain different things, but it becomes a little bit easier to manage from that perspective.
[00:38:45] Jordan Harbinger: I guess I'm trying to tease out some of the other positive byproducts that you have from this too. I've read that you get hydrogen out of this. You get some battery materials. Is that not a thing anymore?
[00:38:54] Mike Kelland: No, that's not a thing anymore. We're still working on that process, which is what I call the electrochemical process. And it's a really interesting process. It may be actually more applicable to getting rid of waste for things like nickel mines and stuff like that, making them more profitable and producing the antacid as a byproduct.
[00:39:09] But that's a long cycle for us. It's going to take a long time to get that up and running. And so these sources of alkalinity that are out there that we can clean up today from heavy industry wastes are nearer term. And if we can find enough of them that are clean enough, it gives us the time to build up that technology into the future.
[00:39:25] So we're just taking a little emphasis off that and putting the emphasis on, hey, what's available today? 'cause that'll get us there faster. And frankly, with the scale of the problem and the speed we need to scale up this industry, we have to be moving as fast as we can.
[00:39:41] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Mike Kelland. We'll be right back.
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[00:43:30] Now for the rest of my conversation with Mike Kelland.
[00:43:35] In an earlier article, it was like the tailings, they give hydrogen. You can sell that.
[00:43:38] Mike Kelland: Yes.
[00:43:38] Jordan Harbinger: And then there's cobalt to the cobalt doesn't need to be mined and release carbon and be mined by child slaves in Africa. We did an episode 807 about all of that. But I do agree. I mean, if you can get 20 years worth of this done with stuff that's sitting in massive piles outside of an old mine, that's a good way to kick this thing off. And then, I don't know, fingers crossed when there is fusion, it's like, okay, now we can make an absolutely enormous, ridiculously large quantity of this stuff. It's been tested out, the environmental impact has been measured and we can still remove it. Because people are saying, oh, fusion, fusion fusion. And it's like, okay, fine. But even if fusion existed tomorrow, it's not going to get the carbon out of the atmosphere unless we have a machine to do that. And that machine is the ocean.
[00:44:23] Mike Kelland: Absolutely.
[00:44:24] Jordan Harbinger: I know some people are going to hear this and they're going to say, okay, we can remove all this carbon from the air. Why bother lowering the emissions or not building coal power plants? If we can just remove it? And you're scaling that up, why bother scaling the emissions down?
[00:44:35] Mike Kelland: It is a matter of that word scale, the amount of removal that we can do. Like we're already staring down the barrel of building this insanely large industry around carbon removal and having to do that in an incredibly short timeframe. Every additional day that goes by that we don't start cutting emissions, it becomes bigger and harder. When you think about carbon removal, it's one of these things that I wish we didn't have to do.
[00:44:59] I've been a canoer my whole life. That's what I love to do. Get out in the backwoods as deep as I can, try not to kill myself, that kind of thing. But. From my perspective as an environmentalist, everybody I know was yelling about this 30 years ago, and if we had actually started making a difference 30 years ago, instead of essentially doubling the amount of CO2 that's in the air over the last 20 years, we wouldn't need this. And I'd be perfectly happy not to be doing this.
[00:45:24] Carbon dioxide removal, it's not a valuable industry, right? It's something we have to do, not something we want to do. It doesn't give anybody energy and it doesn't feed anybody, and there's no value associated with it. We just got to do it now because it's too late and we've squandered the time we had to fix the carbon problem. You want to do as little of it as it possibly can, and we already know we need to do a whole ton of it, pardon the pun, but we want to do it as little as you can.
[00:45:49] Jordan Harbinger: How much does it cost per ton now versus what are you aiming at with scale?
[00:45:54] Mike Kelland: Most of the carbon removal stuff in that industry right now is pretty expensive as that emerging industry. Like I say, we're at like 0.04 percent of what that the industry has to become. I think the average price is about 400-ish dollars a ton, which is way too much. It's just way too much and the range is even higher, like up to $2,000 a ton for some pathways and stuff like that. We think with our approach, we can come in well under $50 a ton and maybe even under $25 a ton, and at that rate, you're sort of getting to a point where it's in line with the numbers that we need to be at to actually get this to the kind of scale we need to get it to.
[00:46:32] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like you almost have to get to negative cost per ton and make it profitable in order to get to the scale that you need. I assume that's occurred to you.
[00:46:41] Mike Kelland: It has. I mean, I think that the bottom line is it's not going to happen.
[00:46:44] They've got this thing called the abatement curve, so the abatement curve, if you look across everything the economy does. Air travel or making steel or driving to work or whatever, across the board, it assigns it a cost per ton of CO2 to abate that CO2. And so when you look at some things, some things actually have a negative abatement cost where it's like, oh, now solar energy is cheaper in some places than fossil fuels. So now putting in place solar is actually cheaper than fossil.
[00:47:12] So you've got a negative abatement curve. You make money by taking CO2 out of that system, whereas other things have incredible abatement costs. Air travel right now is $1,400 a ton. So if you go out there and somebody's like, oh yeah, offset your flight for 30 bucks, that does nothing because the air travel emissions, if you actually wanted to get rid of those and use sustainable aviation fuel, which is really the only way right now, $1,400 a ton.
[00:47:35] And so when you look across that abatement curve, the only things that are negative in terms of CO2 abatement costs are the things that are actually going to be profitable to decarbonize. Everything else is going to cost us money to decarbonize. And that's just the reality of how this stuff works.
[00:47:48] Jordan Harbinger: What other problems are you expecting as you scale?
[00:47:52] Mike Kelland: So we're expecting a lot. It's a lot of work, right? So we've knocked out, I think all of the baseline things, like the sort of check marks to say, can you actually do a project at all, at any scale? And we've knocked all those out. We're actually doing projects now. We've managed to work our way through the regulatory environment so that we are actually have permission to do this with existing permits and all that kind of stuff. We have a framework to measure the carbon so we can actually account for it and sell, you know, removals to companies and stuff like that and make money as a company. We have got these sources of antacids so that we can have a net carbon benefit.
[00:48:27] The big things that we need to continue to work on are scaling things. How much carbon can you actually safely remove within this local area, for example, and how do you measure that? And how do you go out and have the good biological understanding that it's not affecting the local sea life at certain scales and certain limits. We know really well that it's safe way down here. You know, at billions of tons scale, we have no idea, right? So there's a lot of work to do to get there.
[00:48:54] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I was going to ask, and I know people are just clawing at their phone for me to ask this, are you not worried this is going to destroy the ocean somehow? And what risks are there? Because dumping a bunch of mine tailings, for lack of a better word, into the ocean, that's what a lot of people are hearing right now.
[00:49:10] I know the most dangerous place for CO2 is actually in the air where it currently is now. We're all breathing it in and it's doing its thing with the greenhouse effect. But I think a lot of people are going, "Maybe don't dump a bunch of crap in the ocean and just keep your fingers crossed and hope that works," because that might be the only thing that's left.
[00:49:27] Mike Kelland: Yeah, absolutely. You have to be incredibly cautious with the ocean and how you work with it.
[00:49:33] We have as a company, implemented all kinds of guardrails around us, right? So we've got a code of conduct that we follow at the board level. Every one of our projects today is partnered with an academic institution where they're monitoring everything that we do. We're working under the careful eye of local regulators who understand how this stuff works. The question of like, is it safe? Is a scale question, is it safe at this scale?
[00:49:57] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:49:57] Mike Kelland: Because "is it safe" is the null statement. It doesn't really mean anything. So at the scales we're working at now, it's absolutely safe. We're working with products that are used all day, every day in wastewater processing to moderate the pH of the wastewater that goes out into the ocean already. So the regulator understands what safe levels are. We are doing massive amounts of testing for things like trace metals. We're looking at shading effects. So when you put this stuff out there, if it's not quite dissolved. You don't want it to overly shade the ocean so that plankton and seaweed and stuff doesn't grow.
[00:50:28] So we're looking at all of that kind of stuff, and we're keeping ourselves at very low levels compared to what the existing permits in wastewater processing already says. So we're at that very low level, and then we're layering on top of that a huge amount of monitoring, right? So we're doing like biological surveys and we're sampling bacteria, and we're looking at this really cool thing in that you can do in the ocean called eDNA, which is where you take a big example of seawater and you say, what's all the DNA fragments that have been left here? So what species have been going through this water over the last couple of days? And you can track and see whether that's changing based on what you're doing. And then we're doing very small scale processes with this to learn all that as we go.
[00:51:05] And the responsible thing at this point is to work within all of those guardrails and very carefully understand everything about that at this scale, and then try it at the very next scale.
[00:51:17] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:51:17] Mike Kelland: And then try it at the very next scale. That's how it'll work. But one of the things about this, what's really critical to understand right, is that first of all, the ocean is not this pristine, untouched environment just because we don't live there and we see the surface and it's like, oh, it's beautiful.
[00:51:32] It's being hit with climate change so much harder than the land is, and we are losing an incredible amount down there. If you sit there and say, okay, don't put stuff in the ocean, but then right behind you, billions of tons of CO2 are dissolving directly into the ocean, are you really preventing harm at that point? You're not really. So that's one thing.
[00:51:51] And the other thing is that acidification is going crazy. If you're on the west coast of North America, the acidification in the ocean because of climate change is so high now that you can't really grow an oyster. If you have an oyster farm, you can't just go and grow oysters unless you do exactly what we're doing. You have to add an antacid and lower that acidity or else your oysters won't grow because it's just too acidic because of all the CO2.
[00:52:15] So we're sort of at this point where what we're doing actually can have a pretty positive restorative effect.
[00:52:22] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:52:23] Mike Kelland: It doesn't mean we can be any less cautious. You can't use that as an excuse. But you start with the idea that if we actually could. Turn back some of this extra acid. We could do some positive restorative effects, and there's been some really good science on that. There was a study, they did process identical to ours on the Great Barrier Reef. It was a really shallow area, so they could actually really adjust the pH and the acidity of that water.
[00:52:47] They saw that as they added an antacid to that water, they had a seven percent increase in the growth rate of the corals. And so you had these corals, essentially regrowing that have been damaged because of the antacid coming back in and giving them more of a ocean environment that they were used to.
[00:53:02] Jordan Harbinger: That's super interesting, man. Look, you're still going to have to manage thousands of people who think that you are coming to their town to dump laxative in the bay outside their home, and all the whales and dolphins are going to die and water's going to turn pink. So hire a good publicist, I assume at some point during your —
[00:53:18] Mike Kelland: Yep.
[00:53:18] Jordan Harbinger: — process here, but I'm glad, and I think a lot of us are really glad that you are actually paying attention to this, because I would understand it if you were like, "Yeah, it's going to screw up tons of stuff, but here's the problem. This is an extinction level event and we don't have a choice." And it would be like, "Oh, okay."
[00:53:33] This might be a dumb question, but if this bicarbonate, this antacid is taking carbon out of the air, does the water that this chemical is dissolved in have to be in contact with the air? Or does it dissolve so much in all the water uniformly that that just sucks the carbon out of the air? Because I know some parts of the ocean, there's a downward flow of the water. Do you have to figure out what sites where it's just going to stay on the surface 'cause of the temperature?
[00:53:55] Mike Kelland: It's not a dumb question. It was a super good question because that is the hardest part of measuring your carbon and how much carbon you actually get out of the air. The ocean has layers, essentially. You know when you go swimming in a lake and you jump in?
[00:54:08] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:54:08] Mike Kelland: And it's all like nice and warm at the top, and then it's like cold right underneath —
[00:54:11] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:54:11] Mike Kelland: — and your feet are freezing. So that's called stratification. That's where you get layers of water. And in lakes, it's just temperature based. In the ocean, it's temperature based and salt based. So the salinity or the level of salt actually sets up these layers. What happens with that global ocean circulation is that some areas of the ocean won't cycle back up and touch the atmosphere for like a thousand years.
[00:54:34] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:54:35] Mike Kelland: So it's a really long cycle. What you have to be really careful with as we do this and do this process is that you can only count the effect when that reacts with CO2, and then when that water that now has less CO2 in, it gets more CO2 out of the atmosphere. So that's what has to happen. That's what's called fluxx.
[00:54:54] And so the CO2 has to come out of the air refill that surface water to bring it back into equilibrium or into the same concentration as the atmosphere. And so that's one of the things we track. We look at that, we go, "Okay, well, is this region better than that region? Because it has less of that stratification, or it's going to have the alkalanized water that CO2 depleted water is going to be at the surface for longer. And so some sites are better than others from that perspective, for sure.
[00:55:23] Jordan Harbinger: Man, I didn't realize the water would stay down in some places for a thousand years and it's still moving that whole time, right? It just shows you how massive the ocean is that something can be moving and this is going to pop up a thousand years later. I mean, I know it doesn't exactly work like this, but if you could float a little test molecule that had a tracking device on it, you would need a thousand year battery to look at the cycle of this thing floating through the ocean. It's really incredible.
[00:55:46] I take it also, you're just not going to dump all this stuff in from three or four sites around the world, but it's got to be spread out all over the place, right? So each area would have —
[00:55:54] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:55:54] Jordan Harbinger: — a relatively small impact, but collectively there's just this massive aggregate carbon removal.
[00:55:58] Mike Kelland: Yeah, that's right. Here's a sense of scale for you, because I think that this is a wild stat. Let's say you want it to be able to measure this effect anywhere in the ocean. So you wanted to be able to put a little probe in the most sensitive equipment that we have on earth and be able to actually measure this effect. You would have to add 37 billion tons of antacid to the ocean in one shot, and then you would be able to instantly measure it on the most sensitive equipment we have, and then it would dissipate and you wouldn't be able to measure it anymore. So 37 billion tons, that's kind of the number.
[00:56:27] So when we talk about the scale of the ocean and the scale of the carbon in the ocean, like it's that huge, like it's massively, massively, massively huge. Some of the estimates are that we could do a hundred billion tons a year of carbon removal with this process, which is crazy. But the problem is you're pointing out is that you can't do all that in one place.
[00:56:45] Jordan Harbinger: Can't throw it off the dock of appear in San Francisco and have it do its thing.
[00:56:49] Mike Kelland: Now, you can't overload one ecosystem with it, right? Because that local effect or that local spike is just going to be way too much for anything that you could do, but that's going to be safe. And so exactly our strategy is small amounts at lots of places, and try to mirror that magic wand so that you can get a even distribution at all of these various places around the world.
[00:57:09] Jordan Harbinger: I'm afraid to ask this, but who is going to pay for this, right? Because in the United States you might be able to say like, "Hey, if you are producing something, you have to pay for this." And maybe there are government owned or cooperations where it's like a cement plant, but it's doing this. But what about in India and China where they're going to be producing the most carbon because they're modernizing quickly.
[00:57:31] Mike Kelland: Yeah.
[00:57:31] Jordan Harbinger: And I'm not blaming India and China. I don't want people to be like, "How dare you? We already went through our industrial revolution. We've already dumped bajillion tons of carbon and we continue to do so, but now we're outsourcing a lot of our carbon pollution —
[00:57:43] Mike Kelland: We are.
[00:57:43] Jordan Harbinger: — to those places who might go, "Yeah, I'm not paying for that. We're trying to figure out how to feed everyone. We'll deal with that in a hundred years. Oh, we'll be dead by then. Oh, well, sorry."
[00:57:52] Mike Kelland: It's a super interesting political question right now. We're already trading hundreds of billions of dollars in what are called offsets, which is this sort of accounting exercise to reduce emissions. Eventually, ideally, fingers crossed, we get to 20/50. Those offsets don't matter anymore because like I was saying, with offsets, it's kind of like, well, you've got a hundred tons. I've got a hundred tons. I went under, you went over, I buy yours. Right? Or you buy mine. By 2050, nobody has any, we're all at zero. You're not allowed to emit anything.
[00:58:19] And so what that means is the money that's currently going into those offsets can actually move into removals, and it becomes a really interesting thing from that perspective. But it's a huge international conversation. There's things like what's called Article 6, which is about trading carbon between countries. And different countries are picking this up. I think it was India that recently said, we're not allowing any carbon removal credits to be sold to the rest of the world. They have to stay in India for our own contributions to international accords. There's countries in Africa that are saying the minimum price we'll sell it at is 10x the price of typical forestry credits.
[00:58:54] So there's a lot of that kind of stuff that's happening right now to get those markets moving. Today, with permanent removals, a lot of what we're seeing in the terms of the funding is what is called a catalytic buyer. So it's really similar to what happened during COVID where companies would go out or governments would go out and say, "Okay, I'm going to place an order for 10 million doses of your vaccine." And then the company would be like, "We don't even have an idea for how it's going to be made." And they're like, "It's okay. Here's an order. We're prepaying, we're doing it at risk." That model is actually emerging right now, and there's a few different companies that are getting in on it.
[00:59:25] Shopify in Canada, it's a e-commerce firm that you probably know well.
[00:59:29] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, they sponsored the show actually.
[00:59:31] Mike Kelland: Oh, do they?
[00:59:31] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:59:32] Mike Kelland: Right on. They did an AMC. They were one of the very first ones, Stripe. It was another technology company that did, and then they teamed up and they created this thing called Frontier. And Frontier is the billion dollars of advanced market commitment for permanent carbon removal. So it's a really cool initiative that goes out and buys and preys for this to accelerate things. But we're seeing more and more companies getting in and buying into the space.
[00:59:54] I actually believe that we're going to move to a point with removals that's going to be more about what's called in setting. So offsetting is like I'm buying carbon credits from somebody else. In setting is I'm doing projects of my own to reduce my own carbon footprint. So I'm going to use those removals to reduce my own carbon footprint. So there's a bunch of different ways that that comes in. Some of it's regulatory, some of it's market based. Everybody's got their own scheme for how these things get funded.
[01:00:19] I expect it to grow up to a point. I think if we hit all of the IPCC goals, it'll be trillion dollar annual industry by 2050. That's the scale of it.
[01:00:29] Jordan Harbinger: Good news, or potentially good news in this space is so rare.
[01:00:32] Mike Kelland: Yeah, it is.
[01:00:33] Jordan Harbinger: And I'm glad that this exists. I'm glad we're having this conversation. And yeah, fingers crossed for this to work at scale, the stakes are really high. You can't overstate that, right? It's just, it's very —
[01:00:43] Mike Kelland: You can't.
[01:00:43] Jordan Harbinger: — difficult to explain. It is an extinction level type of thing for at least much of humanity. And even if we had fusion tomorrow and infinite energy, we still have to figure out how to get the carbon out of the air because we have to undo the mess that we have made. Even if everybody gets an electric car this evening and the electricity is free, which it isn't, we still need this technology.
[01:01:06] So my future is one percent brighter, I suppose, my hypothetical future is one percent brighter.
[01:01:11] Mike Kelland: That's good, man. And you know, we all have to do whatever we can. I think one of the biggest takeaways I have after getting into this, right? Because I was in software before and getting into climate, total world change, right? Trying to figure out what to do here. It's a huge problem. It's really hard to get your hands around. It's really hard to figure out what you can do that's productive and helpful. We have to get beyond the anxiety of it. Like, oh my God, it's going to take us all out and all that kind of stuff. You have to get beyond the kind of like, I'm not doing enough in my own life so I can't push others and get to a point where you find your own way to have leverage on the problem, right?
[01:01:46] And you want to keep eating beef, go keep eating beef, but go lobby your local utility board to put more renewable energy on the grid for you, right? Because that's going to actually have a bigger impact than you stopping eating beef. Go out and do something helpful. It doesn't have to be go start a carbon removal company. Right?
[01:02:01] Jordan Harbinger: Well, you don't want any competition. Is that what's going on?
[01:02:05] Mike Kelland: I can't run an industry the size of the oil industry by myself. I'm just saying you don't have to. There's a lot of different ways to make a really big impact if you get past the enormity of the problem and get yourself into a mode, which is like, what's the little things I can do that have leverage in the matter?
[01:02:20] Jordan Harbinger: Mike Kelland, thank you very much.
[01:02:22] Mike Kelland: Right on. Thanks Jordan.
[01:02:25] Jordan Harbinger: You are about to hear a preview of The Jordan Harbinger Show with Rory Stewart. He walked across Afghanistan post 9/11 in the winter, which is incredible, but even more interesting is his philosophy on charity he's president of GiveDirectly, which gives cash with no strings attached.
[01:02:40] Mike Kelland: I walked across Afghanistan just after 9/11 and it was an amazing time to walk across the country. It was the middle of the winter. I was walking with a giant dog and the Taliban government had just fallen, but the new government hadn't emerged, and it changed my life.
[01:02:54] Really, what kept me alive and safe were the villages I remember feeling for the first time. So lucky to be with them. I was so tired. I'd been walking then for nearly 28 days without a break living on bread, and I felt a kind of wonderful sense of brotherhood. It was a very humbling experience.
[01:03:15] I think the biggest lesson I took from walk is about global poverty. I was staying with some of the very, very poorest people in the world, and I was seeing a lot of really bad aid programs, really kind of crappy development programs, and a lot of these villages I went to and such a deep level of cynicism from the local villagers about what on earth these foreigners thought they were doing spending all this money and delivering basically no benefit to these villages, basically their phones or their bank accounts, which allows us now to deliver money directly to people's phones without going through governments or middle people.
[01:03:51] It turns out if you give people cash, it's better than almost any other program for nutrition, for education, enrollment for health, the shelter. The truth is that we're not yet in a world in which it's realistic to expect people from global north to pay every month to support the income of people people in the global south.
[01:04:11] Jordan Harbinger: To learn why cash charity is best and what's wrong with foreign aid., Check out episode 867 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:04:20] So this is fascinating and way better than those fans that somehow blow tons of air over some membrane and it collects the tiniest bit of carbon. And after like a week, you've got a little tiny, a little dollop. Just, I just don't see that working. You need like a trillion of those.
[01:04:35] The thing that I don't love, well, in general really because there are always unforeseen consequences, but it just kind of seems like we have no choice. I guess we can always put carbon back into the atmosphere if we take out too much, but that seems unlikely and that's not really the problem that I'm worried about.
[01:04:49] I worry about our oceans if we are dumping in millions of tons of a substance in there, no matter what that substance is, unless it's water. That's just, it freaks me out a little bit. There's something to worry about here. Oceans are incredibly complex ecosystems. Do we really want to dump 10 million tons or whatever of baking soda in there? I just don't know.
[01:05:08] I'm glad that Planetary goals include healing the ocean, not just using it as a giant machine to offset the damage done to the rest of the planet by humanity. Last year, Planetary won a million dollar XPRIZE for the work backed by the Musk Foundation. I think it's great that a lot of what's needed is actually also industrial slash mining waste that needs to be processed and moved, not something that needs to be freshly manufactured.
[01:05:31] It seems almost like it's killing two birds with one stone. Or any, any bird killing, of course, requires energy, which is always going to be the bottleneck here, at least for the foreseeable future. So we really need nuclear and/or straight up fusion. Take me to that fusion future where this is all totally possible. I think nuclear could still do it. We just, you know, got to build infrastructure. It might take us longer to build a nuclear infrastructure we need than to actually generate nuclear fusion. Again, what do I know about that?
[01:05:58] By the way, Planetary has already sold a lot of carbon removal to Shopify, who sponsors this show.
[01:06:03] All things Mike Kelland will be in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com or ask the AI chatbot on the website. Transcripts in the show notes. Advertisers, deals, discount codes, ways to support the show, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support this show.
[01:06:17] Don't forget about Six-Minute Networking as well over at jordanharbinger.com/course. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
[01:06:26] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. Now, if you know somebody who's interested in geoengineering, the environment, global warming, science in general, definitely share this episode with them. It might make their day or you know, their day a hundred years in the future whenever we get this tech going. In the meantime, I hope you apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you learn, and we'll see you next time.
[01:07:03] This episode is sponsored in part by Court Junkie. If you're a fan of true crime, check out Court Junkie. Court Junkie is a true crime podcast hosted by Jillian Jalali that covers court cases and criminal trials. Learn about a nurse at a Texas hospital who is charged with murdering his patients. We did a show about that as well. Prosecutors claim he's a serial killer, but of course, he says he's innocent here from a local reporter who gives his perspective on the case. And what happened to 13-year-old Dylan Redwine? Dylan's father, Mark went on trial last year for his murder, hear all of the important testimony from both the prosecution and the defense. Host Jillian Jalali, who in my opinion is very sharp and smart and interesting, she uses audio clips and interviews to focus on the facts of one true crime case per episode. In the end, the listener can decide, did the criminal justice system actually work? Subscribe to Court Junkie on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
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