Who am i
My name is Paul Gambill, and I'm an entrepreneur, operations director, and technologist.
Purpose of this Site
I started this blog as a means to raise awareness about climate change, and share my own thoughts on how we can reverse climate change using my approaches to business, entrepreneurship, and human organizations to ensure the success of carbon removal as a primary strategy. In addition to my posts centered on business strategy, I will be communicating news and information about carbon removal technology, climate change activism, and policy around carbon emissions. I hope to serve as a resource for others who are passionate about removing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, as well as those who are new to the subject altogether.
Why I made this
I used to be very skeptical of human-caused climate change. Here's a picture of me installing a sign for a talk I had arranged for the Arizona State University College Republicans in 2008. If I remember correctly, I never really believed global warming wasn't happening; I just thought it was more likely we were caught up in natural cycles beyond our control.
For a long time, I didn't really care or pay attention to climate change. Maybe that's because I grew up in Arizona where there really isn't a climate to notice. The weather in Phoenix is either hot or not hot, with very little variation. For a host of other absurd reasons, things like water and energy are cheap in the Valley of the Sun. Schoolchildren aren't taught anything about conserving resources. We barely even recycled, and you can absolutely forget composting.
I moved to Seattle in 2011, and things are very, very different here. We have lush forests, plentiful water, and the cleanest air I've ever breathed. It's different culturally too. Composting is required by law. Lots of people garden using reclaimed rainwater. Members of the city council actively protest oil companies. But even those social pressures weren't enough to convince me.
In 2013, I read the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. The three hard sci-fi books cover a lot of different topics common to science fiction, but the most revealing one to me was a long-term look at how to terraform Mars. Terraforming involves altering a planet so that it's environment resembles Earth, with the objective of supporting human life. Mars has a very light atmosphere owing to its lack of a magnetosphere, and, although it is very cold, it’s not as cold as you might think. On a Mars summer day, the temperature near the equator could reach as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The main problem with Mars is creating a breathable atmosphere through the use of plants, gas injection in the upper atmosphere, or even technology such as solar mirrors. The Mars trilogy demonstrated to me the delicate nature of a closed-system planetary atmosphere. I remember hearing the statistic “fewer than 3% of carbon emissions are caused by humans,” – and that seemed very small to me. Robinson’s books helped me put those numbers in perspective. I now understand that 3% is absolutely staggering.
Next, two things I read in 2015 helped me turn my new understanding of climate change into a more tangible passion. Those were a biography of Elon Musk, and this Esquire article about climate change scientists. Elon Musk is one of my three favorite entrepreneurs (the others are Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, and I'll write a post in the future to describe why), because he has this incredible internal drive to work on the biggest problems humanity is facing. Musk is best known for starting Paypal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors, among other highly innovative projects. Learning more about his life experiences made me look up to him more than ever. I aspire to work in the same ways he does, particularly on the two causes I care most about: reversing climate change, and successfully navigating the inevitable creation of AI superintelligence. On a fundamental level, I want the world to work better.
However, if there's one significant lesson I've learned in my 20s, it's that it is nearly impossible to organize large groups of disparate people to achieve a desired outcome. Bureaucracy, groupthink, democracy, and an education system that values rote memorization over logical and critical thinking skills combine to form insurmountable obstacles for social change. But that doesn't mean you can't achieve large and momentous goals. SpaceX's mission is to colonize Mars and other planets – and they are well on their way to accomplishing that. Social change is good, but it is a lagging feature of society. And in 2016 with global CO2 levels exceeding 400 parts per million and rising, we don't have the luxury of waiting for society to catch up on climate change. It's time for private enterprise to fill the gap created by people and governments who have every incentive not to change.
A friend recently introduced me to a writer and motivational speaker named Simon Sinek, and his ideas on business leadership. He claims that the key to motivating people to buy into your product is being able to attract people to why your business exists. People are very receptive to this, and surprisingly less-so to how the product was created, or what the product does. This concept really resonated with me, and so I have chosen to focus my entrepreneurial energies on climate change (rather than the future of artificial intelligence). There are probably many more people who, like me, care deeply about saving and protecting our planet because they are worried about our precarious position.
Once I found a direction, I started to reach out to like-minded people in my city. Surely in Seattle, a city with a strong culture of environmentalism and preservation, there would be plenty of people working on clean technology initiatives. There were a couple of small meetup groups, but nothing seemed active. Because I am looking for people who are just as passionate about using technology to improve life over the long-term, I established the Carbon Capture Seattle meetup group in September 2015.
It would be foolish, however, to think that this sort of initiative will be accomplished only by people who live within a few miles of me. This blog is a way for me to broadcast to like-minded people beyond Seattle that I'm here, I'm ready to work on this, and I'm looking for help. My career thus far has been about managing and organizing people to achieve goals. And that's how I'm approaching this goal of undoing climate change.