Powerful was created to make climate change relatable, and then make it easy for people to offset their impact and use less of things that contribute to climate change.
The Full Story
I’d never thought about climate change before the Summer of 2017. That’s when I read an article that concluded that the Earth is only good through the end of the century because of climate change. Then I watched six funny but substantive online videos about the foundations of climate change and what could happen in the future because of it two days later. That one-two punch of information was the moment when I got emotionally invested in climate change, because I couldn’t get it out of my mind that that timing – the end of the century – was within the lifetimes of my young, innocent children, and didn’t work for them… or their children… or anyone’s children… let alone nature and other parts of the planet as we know it.
I started to think about how I could use my own way of problem solving to help lessen the effects of climate change – what I could do on nights and weekends (and lunches and walks down the street and any spare time I could find) – before I could hopefully focus on making a difference full time. While I know a little about technology, I didn’t think I was the one who’d come up with a way to suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere, that would have to be someone else. But I’ve always said “What if…” and been resourceful and pegged myself as a serial entrepreneur, and so I was confident that I could think of something. And I did.
Today I’m launching Powerful – which is designed to make climate change relatable, and then make it easy for people to offset their impact and use less of things connected to climate change. I’m aiming to address the pain point of people who care about climate change – or ones who care about the things affected by climate change – but don’t know what to do about it.
My hope is that Powerful will grow to become the trusted voice for what someone can do to lessen the effects of climate change. In some cases we’ll bring new customers to companies doing good work, and in other cases we’ll be innovating and commercializing new products and services that fit within behaviors that are familiar and done today.
Powerful is currently a bootstrapped effort that I’m housing within a corporation I already have in place in order to save money and use the resources I have to put the operations I need in place as best I can. I expect to form a B Corp in time, which is in line with my thinking that while Powerful is meant to be a viable business, it’s also meant to do its part in helping to save the planet.
I’d like to thank my official advisors – Mike Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science and the Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University; Brian Janous, General Manager of Energy & Sustainability at Microsoft; and Pat Hanlon, Founder and CEO of Thinktopia – who have expedited my understanding in their areas of expertise and whom I’ve leaned on quite a bit… as well as my de facto advisors (official advisors-to-be) – Dan Ariely, James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University; Andrew Drechsler, President of HaystaqDNA; Chip Wood, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Center for Resource Solutions; Tony Leiserowitz, Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication at Yale University; and Ed Maibach, University Professor and Director of Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University – who have always answered every question I’ve thrown their way (and believe me, I’ve had a lot of questions). I’m indebted for all of the help you have given and continue to give me everyday.
I’d also like to thank a long list of people who’ve given Powerful significant amounts of their time because they’re mission driven and care about lessening the effects of climate change – James Shamenski, Josh Smith, Sebastian Kaupert, Kevin Cantwell, James Abels, Teresa Freed, Jonathan Stone, Evy Kwong, John Weiskittel, Taras Slawnych, Wendy Jacob, Kathy Larsen, Jenny Powers, Mike Tropeano, Andy Aronow, Michelle Held, Dan Abbasi, Warren Flax, Eric Hayes, Jess Doyle, Matt Lattman, Brad Abrams, Mike Jacobs, Eric Papczun, Othaniel Thomas, Stefanie Fleischmann and Alan Gochin. It’s humbling how much you’ve done and continue to do to make Powerful possible and ever-evolving.
I’d also like to thank David Wallace-Wells for this article, Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens for this documentary, Chamath Palihapitiya for this part of a talk, Grist for this article and many others who created content that helped inform my thinking and expedite my understanding about climate change early on. They were all inspirational to me, and I re-read and re-watch them all of the time.
And finally, I’d like to thank my family. I initially conceived of Powerful because, without getting too mushy, I love my family more than I ever imagined loving anything… and I want to do right by my wife and my young children. Then I thought about how that feeling wasn’t unique to me – that every parent felt that way. I appreciate your tolerating my not always living like an adult and staying up working on Powerful until 2 or 3am most nights over the past two years… or conking out on a sofa or chair at 9pm because I’d stayed up until 2 or 3am too many nights in a row. (Note that on nights when I fall asleep early, I know that our dog will lick me around midnight to go out for a last walk, and I’ve gotten into the bad habit of staying up for a few hours to help move Powerful forward.) I couldn’t have done this without you. 🙂
September 23, 2019