95 episodes

We've entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene, and nothing is as it was. Not the trees, not the seas – not the forests, farms, or fields – and not the global economy that depends on all of these. What does this mean for your investments, your family's future, and the future of man? Each week, we dive into these issues to help you Navigate the New Reality.

Bionic Planet: Reversing Climate Change by Restoring Nature Steve Zwick

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 57 Ratings

We've entered a new epoch: the Anthropocene, and nothing is as it was. Not the trees, not the seas – not the forests, farms, or fields – and not the global economy that depends on all of these. What does this mean for your investments, your family's future, and the future of man? Each week, we dive into these issues to help you Navigate the New Reality.

    Transition Finance: How Carbon Markets REALLY Work, with David Antonioli

    Transition Finance: How Carbon Markets REALLY Work, with David Antonioli

    In episode 104 of Bionic Planet, I delve into the intricacies of carbon finance with my guest, David Antonioli. We explore the concept of transformational finance, where carbon payments are used to catalyze sustainable practices that can eventually stand on their own. We discuss the limitations of the current additionality tool, which focuses on individual project assessments, and the need for a more holistic approach to drive long-term sector-wide transitions.
    David Antonioli, with his extensive experience in climate change and carbon markets, shares insights on the need for a paradigm shift in carbon finance. He emphasizes the importance of designing the system to address what happens when carbon finance ends and the necessity of building a foundation for the future of sustainable practices.
    We touch upon real-world examples, such as projects in Paraguay shifting from cattle ranching to sustainable timber harvesting, to illustrate the challenges of individual project assessments and the potential for sector-wide transformations. We discuss the need for thoughtful simplifications in research and understanding market dynamics to identify positive tipping points that can lead to sustainable transitions.
    Furthermore, we highlight the positive list approach adopted by organizations like the Climate Action Reserve and the California Resources Board, which use standardized methods to define additional activities upfront. This approach streamlines the process and sets a clear path for achieving long-term sustainability goals.
    Overall, the episode delves into the complexities of carbon finance, the importance of explicit transformational strategies, and the potential for sector-wide transitions to drive sustainable practices in the future.

    Timestamps
    00:00:00 - Introduction to Transformational Finance
    00:05:30 - Challenges in Carbon Accounting
    00:10:39 - Critique of Additionality Concept
    00:14:39 - Importance of Holistic Understanding
    00:17:27 - Need for Interlocking Solutions
    00:20:36 - Overhauling Local Economies
    00:23:15 - Implicit vs. Explicit Transformation
    00:27:06 - Addressing Entrenched Interests
    00:33:43 - Proposal for Sector-Wide Transformation
    00:38:02 - Limitations of Current Additionality Tools
    00:42:24 - Focus on Sector-Wide Transformation
    00:45:06 - Procedures for Overhauling Local Economies

    Quotes
    "We know that the enemy is carbon, and we know its ugly face. We should put a big fat price on it, and of course, add to that, drop the subsidies." - 00:00:20
    "Everything else is a bonus, a positive externality that critics of carbon finance choose to ignore." - 00:01:42
    "We're missing the forest for the trees." - 00:14:15
    "We're so focused on every single little branch that we've lost what the bigger opportunity is." - 00:44:22
    "We're so in the weeds of the detail." - 00:44:32
    "We're so focused on every single little branch that we've lost what the bigger opportunity is." - 00:44:22
    "We're so in the weeds of the detail." - 00:44:32
    "We're so focused on every single little branch that we've lost what the bigger opportunity is." - 00:44:22
    "We're so in the weeds of the detail." - 00:44:32
    "We're so focused on every single little branch that we've lost what the bigger opportunity is." - 00:44:22

    • 55 min
    103 | Jen Jenkins on Purists, Pragmatists, and Science-Based Targets

    103 | Jen Jenkins on Purists, Pragmatists, and Science-Based Targets

    In Episode 103 of Bionic Planet, titled "Purists, Pragmatists, and the Science-Based Targets Initiative," we delve into the complex world of emission reduction targets and the challenges companies face to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The episode explores the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), a program designed to assist companies in setting emission reduction targets aligned to achieve net zero emissions.
    The episode begins by highlighting the significant increase in companies committing to SBTI since January 2023, with many not submitting their plans until January 2025. We learn about the distinction between purists and pragmatists in the climate realm. Purists advocate for the complete elimination of fossil fuels in value chains, while pragmatists emphasize the use of offsets to achieve emission reductions.
    Guest speaker Jen Jenkins, Chief Science Officer at Rubicon Carbon, provides valuable insights into the challenges faced by companies in reducing emissions and the balance between pragmatism and purity. Jenkins discusses the importance of understanding a company's value chain, the complexities of emission reduction strategies, and the role of offsets in achieving carbon neutrality.
    The episode delves into the debate surrounding the use of offsets in emission reduction strategies, focusing on the conflicting perspectives of purists and pragmatists. Jenkins emphasizes the need for flexibility and practicality in climate action, highlighting the importance of using the available tools to address the climate crisis effectively.
    As the discussion unfolds, the episode touches on the need for clear guidelines and standards in emission reduction efforts, the role of the voluntary carbon market in conservation efforts, and the challenges of balancing purity with practicality in climate action. Jenkins and the host explore the complexities of achieving net zero emissions and the importance of finding a middle ground between purist ideals and pragmatic solutions.
    The episode concludes with a call to action for companies to engage in emission reduction efforts, highlighting the significance of the voluntary carbon market in driving climate action. Jenkins' insights shed light on the complexities of emission reduction strategies and the importance of practical approaches in addressing the climate crisis.
    Join us in exploring the dynamic landscape of emission reduction targets, the role of offsets in climate action, and the ongoing debate between purists and pragmatists in pursuing a sustainable future on Bionic Planet.

    Timestamps
    Introduction to SBTI: 00:00:09-00:00:19
    Interface Carpets Case Study: 00:00:23-00:00:33
    Dependence on Fossil Fuels: 00:01:22-00:01:32
    Global Emission Reduction Targets: 00:01:43-00:02:04
    Pragmatic Approach to Emission Reduction: 00:02:24-00:02:34
    Scope 3 Emissions and SBTI Controversy: 00:02:45-00:03:07
    Purists vs. Pragmatists: 00:03:36-00:03:48
    Jen Jenkins Background and Role: 00:05:52-00:06:03
    Transition to Private Sector: 00:07:39-00:07:50
    Jenkins Equations and Carbon Stock Estimation: 00:09:56-00:10:07
    Net Zero vs. Carbon Neutral: 00:11:23-00:11:34
    Challenges in Emission Reduction Planning: 00:13:38-00:13:49
    Renewable Energy Options: 00:16:47-00:16:57
    Customized Emission Reduction Plan: 00:17:39-00:17:50
    Carbon Neutrality by 2030: 00:18:18-00:18:28
    Carbon Neutral vs. Net Zero: 00:32:18-00:32:29
    Purity vs. Pragmatism in Climate Action: 00:36:24-00:36:34
    Role of Voluntary Carbon Market: 00:38:33-00:38:43

    Quotes
    "The purist approach would say, no, no, I need to hold everybody's feet to the fire and ensure that no matter how much it costs, ensure that these companies sort of suss out every single source of fossil fuel in their value chain and obliterate it immediately." - (00:03:48-00:03:58)
    "But we can restore it, make it better, greener, more resilient, more sustainable. But how? Technology? Geoengineering? Are w

    • 40 min
    Understanding Science and Communicating Uncertainty in Climate Solutions, with Gil Pontius (AKA, Dr Stardust)

    Understanding Science and Communicating Uncertainty in Climate Solutions, with Gil Pontius (AKA, Dr Stardust)

    In this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Gilmore Pontius, Jr., a geography professor at Clark University specializing in geographic information science. Dr. Pontius shared his expertise in computer simulation models of deforestation and the impact of land change on humans.
    Dr. Pontius discussed his journey into the field of geography, highlighting his passion for mathematics and maps. He emphasized the importance of simplicity in modeling and the need to eliminate distractions to focus on the essence of the problem.
    The conversation delved into the complexities of land change modeling, addressing the challenges of uncertainty and the balance between simplicity and complexity in predictive models. Dr. Pontius emphasized the importance of transparency in modeling and the need to acknowledge and learn from mistakes in scientific research.
    The discussion also touched on the evolution of methodologies in land change modeling, with Dr. Pontius advocating for a continuous learning process and adaptation based on new scientific insights. He highlighted the importance of open communication and collaboration in maximizing learning and addressing challenges in the field.
    Overall, the episode provided valuable insights into the world of geographic information science, emphasizing the need for continuous improvement, transparency, and open dialogue in scientific research and modeling practices. Dr. Pontius's expertise and passion for the subject shone through, making for an engaging and enlightening conversation.
     
    "I do this because I enjoy it. And I feel completely comfortable with saying that, because if you don't enjoy it, you're not going to dedicate time to it." - 00:04:52-00:05:02
    "What good scientists do, they learn from their mistakes, and they admit them, and they say what their motivation was at the time, and then they clarify it and present something better." - 00:12:49-00:13:00
    "I wanted to give an example to the research community because I see variation even among professors in their motivations." - 00:13:00-00:13:12
    "We're not in the business of trying to say that we've solved all the problems. That's not what good scientists do." - 00:14:51-00:15:01
    "I'm not willing to take on a student unless that student is willing to tell me when they think I'm wrong." - 00:29:23-00:29:33
    "Mathematicians are always trying to eliminate distractions, get to the essence of something, and make it as simple and transparent as possible." - 00:48:07-00:48:17
    "It's trivial to choose to look at something in such detail that it's impossible to predict accurately. Easy to do." - 00:50:07-00:50:18
    "If we're doing the same thing we were doing 30 years ago, it means either 30 years ago we were so brilliant that we knew everything, or if we're doing the same thing we were doing 30 years ago, that means we haven't learned anything in 30 years." - 00:55:18-00:55:28
    "Learning is not guaranteed. Just look around the world today. I mean, things can go backward." - 00:55:29-00:55:39
    "Is capitalism or communism good or bad? It depends how it's implemented. Is religion good or bad? It depends how it's implemented." - 00:56:55-00:57:05

    • 1 hr 31 min
    101 | Interface, Inc May Have Outgrown Offsets, but Most Have Not

    101 | Interface, Inc May Have Outgrown Offsets, but Most Have Not

    Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/bionicplanet
    Two weeks ago, climate pioneer Interface Inc announced they would become carbon-negative across all their operations by 2040, enabling them to move beyond the use of carbon credits.
    Some people heralded this as a sign that the days of offsetting emissions are over, but that’s not exactly true – at least not yet.
    Most companies aren't as far along on their climate journeys as Interface is, and we still need offsets to accelerate reductions in the next decade. The fact is a company's decision to offset or not depends on its unique circumstances.
    In this episode of Bionic Planet, we delve into the remarkable journey of Interface, Inc., a flooring tile manufacturer that has been at the forefront of climate action since CEO Ray Anderson (pictured) the 1990s.
    The episode explores how Interface's early efforts to offset emissions paved the way for their groundbreaking carbon-negative carpet line, which absorbs more greenhouse gas than it emits over its lifecycle.
    We replay a 2021 interview with Buddy Hay, the industrial engineer who played a pivotal role in quantifying Interface's emissions, and we detail the company's transition to offsetting, the challenges they faced in measuring and reducing their carbon footprint, and the evolution of the voluntary carbon market, the role of verification and validation in offsetting, and the importance of natural climate solutions -- as well as how the company used offsets the right way: to reduce emissions in the present while developing technologies that enabled it to move beyond offsetting in the future.
    Related Link: https://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/articles/interface-making-carpets-cool/

    • 43 min
    The Untold Story of the Voluntary Carbon Market

    The Untold Story of the Voluntary Carbon Market

    Become a patron at https://www.patreon.com/bionicplanet
    In Episode 100 of Bionic Planet, part of the Tribes of the Climate Realm vertical, we delve into the origins of the voluntary carbon market -- a story that has never been told before.

    Today's show is the first of many offering a truer, completer, and more accurate glimpse into the origins of the Voluntary Carbon Market than you've probably ever heard before.

    The episode draws on a 2022 discussion with environmental economists Marc Stuart and Mark Kenber, who were instrumental in creating the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) in 2005 to meet two core objectives: first, to accelerate emission reductions in the wake of failed government policy and, second, to test new approaches to meeting the climate challenge.

    We offer a brief history of climate negotiations leading up to 2005 and the exclusion of forest protection and sustainable farming from the Kyoto Protocol and the Marrakesh Accords. The discussion touches on the complexities of integrating these crucial elements into the market, emphasizing the importance of balancing environmental integrity with development-focused activities.
    Join me, Steve Zwick, in this insightful journey through the history and evolution of the voluntary carbon market, as we strive to create a more sustainable future for our planet. Thank you for tuning in to Episode 100 of Bionic Planet.
    Related Links
    049 | Forests in the Paris Climate Agreement, Part 1: The Birth of Forest Carbon
    https://bionic-planet.com/podcast-episode/049-forests-in-the-paris-climate-agreement-part-1-the-birth-of-forest-carbon/ 
    064 | Race to Zero: Meet the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon
    https://bionic-planet.com/podcast-episode/064-race-to-zero-meet-the-taskforce-on-scaling-voluntary-carbon/ 
    75 l Coverage of Climate Solutions Suffer the Same Fate as Coverage of Climate Science?
    https://bionic-planet.com/podcast-episode/75-l-coverage-of-climate-solutions-suffer-the-same-fate-as-coverage-of-climate-science/
     
    Timestamps
    Introduction to the History of the Voluntary Carbon Market
    The Origins of the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)
    The Role of Carbon Markets in Addressing Climate Change
    The Failure of Governments to Address Climate Change
    The Evolution of Voluntary Carbon Standards
    The Importance of Ending Deforestation
    The Emergence of Voluntary Carbon Markets in the 1980s
    The Kyoto Protocol and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
    The Exclusion of Forest Protection from the Kyoto Protocol
    The Creation of the Voluntary Carbon Standard (VCS)
    Challenges in Implementing Standards for Forest Protection
    The Need for Unified Rules in Carbon Markets
    The Involvement of NGOs, Businesses, and Organizations in Developing Standards
    The Controversy Surrounding Inclusion of Forest Conservation
    The Importance of Addressing Permanence and Fungibility
    The Collaboration Between NGOs and Businesses in Developing Standards
    The Importance of Including Forest Conservation in Carbon Markets
    The Role of NGOs in Advocating for Inclusion of Forest Conservation
    The Significance of Learning from Past Lessons
    Call to Action for Support and Sponsorship

    • 44 min
    Mombasa’s Big Ship: Reviving Urban Mangroves by Raising Communities

    Mombasa’s Big Ship: Reviving Urban Mangroves by Raising Communities

    Support Bionic Planet at patreon.com/bionicplanet
    In Episode 99 of Bionic Planet, recorded in Mombasa, Kenya, the focus is on the efforts to revive the coastal mangrove forests that protect the seaside city and support its fishing sector. The episode features guests from the community-based organization, Big Ship, who have been working on mangrove conservation for 15 years.
    The episode delves into the challenges faced in persuading communities to understand the importance of conserving mangroves and the innovative financing mechanisms used by Big Ship to fund their restoration efforts. The guests discuss the crucial role mangroves play in carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and supporting marine life.
    The conversation highlights the Adopt-a-Site model employed by Big Ship, where degraded mangrove areas are identified, restored, and monitored over time. The guests emphasize the importance of engaging with the community, government institutions, and partners to ensure the sustainability of mangrove restoration projects.
    The episode also explores the impact of youth involvement in mangrove conservation and the promotion of ecotourism as a sustainable income source for coastal communities. The guests share their experiences with the VIM program, which focuses on career mentorship and skill development for the youth.
    Overall, the episode showcases the multi-faceted approach taken by Big Ship to address the challenges of mangrove conservation, promote community engagement, and create alternative livelihoods for coastal residents. The guests' insights shed light on the importance of cultural preservation, environmental awareness, and long-term sustainability in mangrove restoration efforts.
    Listeners are encouraged to support the podcast by leaving a five-star review and considering becoming a patron to help fund future episodes that aim to educate and inspire action in climate and biodiversity conservation finance.
    Timestamps
    In Episode 99 of Bionic Planet, recorded in Mombasa, Kenya, the focus is on the efforts to revive the coastal mangrove forests that protect the seaside city and support its fishing sector. The episode features guests from the community-based organization, Big Ship, who have been working on mangrove conservation for 15 years.
    The episode delves into the challenges faced in persuading communities to understand the importance of conserving mangroves and the innovative financing mechanisms used by Big Ship to fund their restoration efforts. The guests discuss the crucial role mangroves play in carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and supporting marine life.
    The conversation highlights the Adopt-a-Site model employed by Big Ship, where degraded mangrove areas are identified, restored, and monitored over time. The guests emphasize the importance of engaging with the community, government institutions, and partners to ensure the sustainability of mangrove restoration projects.
    The episode also explores the impact of youth involvement in mangrove conservation and the promotion of ecotourism as a sustainable income source for coastal communities. The guests share their experiences with the VIM program, which focuses on career mentorship and skill development for the youth.
    Overall, the episode showcases the multi-faceted approach taken by Big Ship to address the challenges of mangrove conservation, promote community engagement, and create alternative livelihoods for coastal residents. The guests' insights shed light on the importance of cultural preservation, environmental awareness, and long-term sustainability in mangrove restoration efforts.

    Timestamps
    00:00:00 - Introduction to Big Ship Organization in Mombasa, Kenya
    00:05:30 - Overview of Big Ship's Thematic Areas and Programs
    00:10:27 - The Adopt-a-Site Model for Mangrove Restoration
    00:15:01 - The Impact of the VIM Program on Youth Participants
    00:21:09 - Discussion on Carbon Finance and Alternative Financing Mecha

    • 42 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
57 Ratings

57 Ratings

ForesterPete ,

Sober insights into the often murky and complex

I just caught up on last 3 podcasts. Still going strong! Great work. As someone who spends every day on this stuff, I find the journalism and storytelling compelling and I learn new ways to educate and argue.

I think I wrote this review, below, a couple of years ago but not sure I posted it! Reposting now

Steve Zwick uses the 'convenient' podcast platform to demystify and offer sober insights into the often murky and complex world of international policy and practice in combatting climate change. With a nice balance of professional reporting and personal (his and others') opinions, this podcast series is both informative to a professional audience and accessible (I believe) to those who aren't on the inside.

valdes-stefy ,

What a great discovery

Fantastic podcast. Does a great job of synthesizing complex subjects for the non-scientist. Very relevant and current.

EnviroJean ,

Great podcast!

Incredibly informative and timely.

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