Thoughts on repurposing a career
Climate change is far too important and far too interesting to watch from the sidelines. So I am joining the fight.
Today is the first day of the rest of my career and it feels good. I am joining the fight against climate change.
A longtime search for more joy and purpose at work ultimately pointed me towards climate. Once I began to grasp the scale and complexity and urgency of the problem, it was difficult to justify focusing on anything else. Climate change is the greatest collective challenge civilization has ever faced, potentially the great filter. And why settle for solving easy problems, right?
One thing I didn’t fully comprehend going in is that, aside from being an inspiring mission, climate is the most promising industry out there. The space is still new and there is a ton of investment flowing so it is growing very fast and bustling with innovative solutions that are like super magnets for top talent: from regenerative and sometimes vertical agriculture to advanced nuclear to robotics, from Web3 ecosystems to smart energy grids, to floating kelp mini-farms that dissolve and sink to sequester carbon at the bottom of the ocean (for real.)
I am known for hedging my statements, so let me say this as plainly as I can: If you work in technology, climate is the most interesting space to be today.
Robinson Meyer has a great piece in The Atlantic that I can’t recommend enough. It predicts that the number of people
working in a climate-relevant industry is going to explode. It is going to undergo what you might call a techification.
‘Techification’ draws a parallel to the period around 2010 when
working in tech went from being a career choice for dorky optimists to the default career track for many ambitious college students. A similar switch is coming for companies working on climate change: The opportunity will be too large, the money too persuasive, the problems too intriguing.
We have established that climate tech is the new kid on the block, it will help save the world, and it is just so freaking cool. It is also a sector of the economy that we cannot afford to fail. While the success of any one startup or technology is never guaranteed, climate tech as a whole must have a bright future if we want civilization to also have one. Some go as far as saying that it is recession proof. Hyperbole perhaps, but there is evidence pointing to plenty of dry powder in venture capital. And that’s in addition to new US climate policy that will drive demand for climate solutions across the entire economy. All that puts the sector in a very good position to comfortably ride out the looming recession.
Meyer goes on to say that government incentives
will keep flowing no matter the macro environment, which makes betting on clean energy one of the most certain economic trends of the next few years. Clean energy is now the safe, smart, government-backed bet for conservative investors. It’s really a shocking reversal of the past 40 years. It is such a change that it hasn’t yet been metabolized by the world of people involved in the issue.
That is why I am repurposing my career. Yes I want to make an impact in the world. Yes I want to spend my working hours on interesting and purposeful problems. And of course there is self-interest in the mix too, as I am betting that climate is where the future of tech is going to be.
The start of my climate journey was overwhelming. For some time I did not know where to begin. But in the space of a few months I discovered a supportive climate community with inspiring people at every stage of their own journeys. Contrasting with the doom and gloom typical of climate conversations in the mainstream, climate tech is an uplifting, intellectually stimulating, and solution-driven space. It is exciting to be here.
I haven’t completed my journey yet. I am still looking for my place in the climate solutions landscape. Right now I am focusing on three things:
Learning: The sheer volume of new things to learn in this space makes me giddy. Writing is how I learn best, and I have created this Substack to learn in public.
Connecting with founders, investors, and others who already do or want to work in climate tech. Communities like My Climate Journey and Work on Climate have been instrumental and people are very generous with their time as I build a professional network from scratch.
Helping others follow suit. I am certain that there are vast numbers of talented people who want to make a climate impact but don't know where to start. I learned a lot of lessons, and I took notes! I am compiling guides and resources from my own experience to help accelerate other journeys.
If you are one of those people, I would love to hear from you. I can help!
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