by Quin Pompi | November 5, 2019
When I posed a seemingly harmless question to a friend the other week, “Do you want to have kids?” their pessimistic response surprised me. They said they didn’t want to bring a life into a world that is destined for destruction (referencing the fires plaguing the West Coast and the superstorms that struck the East Coast earlier in 2019). Sensationalistic weather patterns aside, it’s a somewhat pragmatic outlook given the forecasted trajectory of Earth’s climate. While I don’t disagree that the forecast looks rather grim, I do disagree with my friend’s assessment that a decline into a climactic apocalypse is inevitable. Call me an optimistic millennial, but instead of seeing climate change as an insurmountable eventuality that has been placed on my generation, I see it as a challenge.
A large part of solving this challenge will be the task of decarbonizing our energy systems. This change is already underway, and it’s accelerating. You may have seen recent headlines of large utilities offering their clients energy derived from 100% renewable sources, or making commitments to decarbonize their energy mix by a target date. Many see wind and solar as the most obvious solutions to accomplish this goal, mostly due to their scalability, but while they may be the most obvious solutions, those alone won’t be enough. We need to take a long look at all possible energy sources. Finding a solution will require strategies that involve deep levels of innovation and ingenuity.
One such strategy is to employ solutions derived from the natural world, otherwise known as nature-based solutions (NBS). NBS refers to the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling socio-environmental challenges. While wind and solar use renewable resources, there is a whole other set of renewable energy development methods that use biological systems to create energy. For example, anaerobic digestion (AD) harnesses the activities of small, naturally occurring microbes, which break down organic waste (e.g. food scraps, manure, wastewater) to produce biogas. The gas can combust to generate electricity and heat, or it can process into renewable natural gas (RNG) or transportation fuels.
Obviously, RNG alone won’t solve the decarbonization crisis, but it serves as an example of an innovative technology that we’ve created using a non-conventional approach, and it can serve as a template for developing alternative renewable energy sources and innovations.
I’m not trying to offer a definitive solution for our path to decarbonization. Instead, I want to instill in you a lasting sentiment of hope. Climate change does not have to be an eventuality ending in climactic apocalypse, like my friend says it will. I am confident that we will find a solution, and quite frankly, I am excited; excited to see how we will arrive at that solution; excited for the innovations and technologies that will be developed; and finally, I am excited that if my friend chooses to do so, they can bring a child into this world with a guilt-free conscience.
About the Author
Quin Pompi, a Project Manager at ClimeCo, joined the company shortly after earning his Bachelor of Arts in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University. As a Certified Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA) coupled with a biology background, Quin specializes in leading and supporting all facets of business development efforts relating to ClimeCo’s expanding biogas project portfolio. In his free time, Quin enjoys hobbies such as skiing, fly-fishing, and cooking. Recently, he has partnered with a local chef to build a successful start-up business that provides mobile wood-fired pizza catering to public and private events by using fresh, local-sourced ingredients.