A full report with pretty charts, graphics, and numbers is coming soon!
In the meantime, rest-assured we are offsetting 100% of our store's carbon emissions and a tree is planted for every ShopPay order. Each order makes a difference!
Here’s why it’s not enough
When we (humans) discovered fossil fuels in the ground, the path of human history changed forever. For the past 200 years, we’ve used that fuel to kickstart everything from the Industrial Revolution to modernity. Our planet has enjoyed a phase of unprecedented wealth and health because of these innovations. There has never been a better time to be alive, and the same should hold true tomorrow. Unfortunately, our energy use has consequences. Every step of the way, we’ve been pumping carbon into the atmosphere and gradually changing our climate. Before the Industrial Revolution, our air contained 280 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) on average. But new markets born from this revolution used a lot of energy, causing atmospheric CO2 rates to rise dramatically. For the first time in recorded history, our CO2 levels are above 400 ppm. This is really bad. We’ve unwittingly created a reinforcing feedback loop that is causing a massive imbalance in our atmosphere. It’s leading to rising sea levels, increased drought and flooding, ocean acidification — externalities that put our survival at risk. Many of us want to do something about this, and so we buy carbon offsets. This conjures up images of solar power and tree planting, but the reality can be quite different. Carbon offsets are often opaque and misleading. Some are created by putting filters on the smokestacks of especially dirty factories that shouldn’t be running in the first place. The biggest buyers of carbon offsets are often the largest polluters looking to be absolved of their guilt; a modern twist on medieval indulgences. Plus, carbon offsets don’t often reduce carbon in the air. At best, they slow emissions. At worst, they fund ineffective projects. Even if we could offset all future emissions, there’s still too much in the air right now. Offsets are better than nothing, but they’re not good enough. We’ve collectively procrastinated so long that the only way to solve this problem is to get carbon out of the air, not just prevent more from going in. That means we need to invest in direct-air carbon sequestration. This involves taking CO2 molecules from the air, breaking the carbon out of them, and turning them into a brick (or a valuable product!) that will never re-release its carbon into the atmosphere. This is one of the best long-term approaches to climate change because it works independently from emissions and can mitigate the problem retroactively. However, sequestration is incredibly expensive right now. I could offset one tonne of carbon for $5 USD, but direct-air sequestering the same amount could cost upwards of $1,000. This means most people don’t do it, or don’t know about it, and so the demand for sequestration is vastly lower than other offsets.
This is where we can help!
If we want to solve the climate crisis, we collectively need to do the same for carbon sequestration: decrease the friction (in this case, the price) so demand can go up. Throughout industrial history, we’ve repeatedly seen that demand leads to more efficient supply. Consider the incredible price reductions of computers, cell phones, and the internet over recent decades. Lithium-ion batteries are 85% cheaper now than a decade ago thanks to the huge spike in demand from electric cars, grid storage, and other electronics. Once a committed, long-term, and growing demand for sequestration exists, engineers can invest in the same efficient manufacturing techniques that have brought down the prices of all the other technologies we love so much. Great companies like Carbon Engineering and Climeworks are already tackling the science and prototyping solutions, and there’s room for many more innovators. There’s also space for more companies to invest in this area, as major companies like Google and Stripe have committed to. So we need more demand to get better pricing, but we need better pricing to get more demand. How do we solve this puzzle? By intentionally overpaying for carbon sequestration to kickstart the demand. This industry has the potential to spur innovation just like fossil fuels did. Except this time, the externality is not pollution. It’s exactly the opposite. It’s saving the planet.
We urge you to join us.
Commerce is a powerful vehicle for change. Using the market forces of supply and demand to further worthy causes is one of the most potent recipes for progress. We can apply this thinking to even the world’s greatest problems, like climate change.
We currently host Joco Records on the Shopify platform because they are actively working to further this goal. If you’re curious, read more about Shopify’s environmental stance.
Individuals and businesses making conscious choices can change the world. Vote with your dollars to kickstart markets like carbon sequestration, and help us preserve our pale blue dot. The best part of it all is if you've ordered with us, then you've already made a small difference.
Owner - Joco Records