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Interview by Matthew Eshed | USA | 10 Feb 2021
For this second post in the Climatetech Media series on AirMiners, I spoke with Jason Grillo, the Events Director and force majeur of AirMiners over the past year. You can check out the whole impressive compendium of events over which he has presided on the AirMiners Youtube channel, and you can also get involved by joining the community on Slack by visiting AirMiners.org.
In December, AirMiners hosted the first-ever awards ceremony for innovation in atmospheric carbon removal, or Air Mining, called The Carbys. I wrote a bit about this in the post "9 Musicians, and Atmospheric Carbon Removal Technologies." It was fun, and serious: two of the values of the AirMiners community. In order to create solutions to the gigantic challenges in front of us, we need fun, don't you agree?
I asked Jason for his perspective, as a leader of this community for the past year and a half. Keep a look out for more stories about the AirMiners who were honored at the Carbys.
M: What is the Carbys? What is AirMiners?
J: The Carbys is our annual awards show to celebrate the values and spirit of our AirMiners carbon removal community. By recognizing individuals and organizations that stood out over the last year, we hope to inspire and spur further actions to advance the field of carbon removal. AirMiners is a community for entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, and designers interested in carbon removal to share ideas, learn, grow, and network with each other. By these activities, we accelerate removing the one trillion tons of legacy carbon dioxide emissions (to date) in the Earth’s atmosphere.
M: What are your hopes for the potential for AirMiners?
J: I see that AirMiners has the potential to rapidly advance the progress of carbon removal throughout the globe, by educating and attracting talent, accelerating prospects for individual companies, and elevating connections for those in the field. In a nutshell, we can serve as the touchstone organization for carbon removal by catalyzing the development of the whole industry.
M: How would you summarize 2020?
J: Terrible from a world events standpoint, with glimmers of hope springing up late in the year. For carbon removal and AirMiners, transformative. Major corporate interests and legislative actions supporting carbon removal appear to be starting a ‘snowball’ effect for developing carbon removal that will (hopefully) grow in the future. Our AirMiners Slack community grew, while the scope and scale of activities in our events series has surpassed even our most optimistic expectations.
M: What are your hopes for 2021 for the environmental movement? For global shipping and trade? For education?
J: I hope that more people find work in environmental pursuits to help the natural world recover, while also serving as an engine to fix the economic damage from the pandemic. Supporting that, a new US administration, and state and local governments, can hopefully take action to spur necessary regulatory changes and further legislation to advance carbon removal.
I see potential for global trade to rebound in fits and starts. Some countries that handled the pandemic well will be more likely to start on this path (e.g. Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia). For education, I do worry about the repercussions on a generation of students due to a lower quality learning experience during the 2020-21 school year. That might take a while to recover and catch up from. I admire the efforts of all the teachers and administrators who are dealing with the challenges of remote learning. While I can't speak to the experience of all parents, my view is that despite noticeable improvements in delivery of online remote learning over the last year, there’s really no substitute for in-person instruction.
M: How do you talk to your grade-school children about AirMiners and your work in clean, climate, and carbontech? What about your their friends and their parents?
J: My wife and I teach our elementary school age children about greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide, and have found that making the results in tangible understandable terms seems to work well. It gives me clarity to simplify the complexities of the field into words that a 5 or 6 year old can understand! To that end, I tell them that I work with people to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and help others make things with it, like yoga mats, cement, sandals, or even toothpaste – which is such an everyday item that it brings it home to them. When I was doing work in the solar energy field, I would point out the solar panels at their preschool or elsewhere and talk to them about what the panels do and how they do it. They also love watching the BBC's Planet Earth and Blue Planet series.
That's all for this installment in the Climatetech Media Spotlight on AirMiners series. Please subscribe to The Climatetech Media Project to get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox. We are currently seeking sponsors and project participants; please email Matthew at firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
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