Sea otters are awesome. I have a bunch of tabs open, and I wanted to drop some content here before I close them.
Sea otters are great in particular if you care about climate change, because they eat sea urchins, which in turn really, really like eating kelp, a giant seaweed that forms huge, beautiful kelp forests, that sequester (i.e. draw down) loads of CO2.
The sad thing is that we almost hunted sea otters to extinction in the early 20th century, and their reduced numbers have meant that loads of kelp forests have been decimated by marauding sea urchins that would have otherwise been eaten by them.
These sea urchins have worked little aquatic lumberjacks, gnawing through seaweed, and killing it, releasing CO2.
If I end up starting a project with a sea otter as a mascot, this is why.
A friend of mine, Ed asked me this in a private Whatsapp group before tagging me on twitter with this message:
Two things I wished existed
A “Green Oak” Software License
Anything to discourage the use of open source software and services to support the extraction of fossil fuels would be good.
We’ve seen previously that one of the key things stopping fuel and natural gas so far has been the difficulty in raising finance, or getting insurance on new fossil fuel projects. See this thread for more:
So, I think we should make it riskier and more expensive to use open source software to support fossil fuel extraction.
Maybe a thing like a “Green Oak License” – i.e. along the lines of the Blue Oak Model License, but with explicit language about use in the extraction of fossil fuels being forbidden.
If this exists in a sensible form, then it becomes possible to have a conversation about what people building software are comfortable with it being used for, and ideally, for us, as grown up professionals, take more responsibility in how the things we might make are used.
As tech grows up, so must we, and if we say software is eating the world, then maybe this new world should have a different aesthetic, where it’s just not cool to have anything to do with extracting fossil fuels, when the science if so overwhelming, and when we need investment that is going into fossil fuels to go into things like drawing down carbon, or transitioning our economy away from them.
Model policy language for procurement for purchasing to be in-line with net-zero targets
The second thing would be some model language to use in procurement, to basically say:
“this big purchase we make needs to be inline with net-zero targets”
I don’t know what it might be, but creating an incentive that people either can’t complain about being non-competitive, or that people can use to force a conversation in places where a climate emergency has been declared to give these declarations some teeth would be helpful in my view.
I say this because I understand more than 50% of UK councils to have declared a climate emergency now.
But without any mechanism to act upon this declaration, I worry that it’s just a feel good gesture, and any momentum from doing it will be lost.
If there’s some legal basis to back up the science, which we all seem be ignoring, at least it can lead to a conversation along the lines of:
“OK, what does acting as if there was a climate emergency look like?”.
The goal here isn’t to penalise people for declaring a climate emergency, but instead to create the legal mechanism to allow the people pushing for it, to push for action, rather than being fobbed off with a response like “we already declared it, we’re done!”.
The people campaigning for things like emergency declarations shouldn’t need to be policy experts or technocrats, but their reasonable wishes of keeping a world safe for their and their friends children should be respected.
I’ve been working with a friend, James Gardner to sketch out some ideas along the lines of a “ten tonne rule”. I’m hoping these two sentences on how to use will outline the idea behind the ten tonne rule:
If any spend will cause more than 10 tonnes of CO2 emissions, rank bids by CO2 emitted over length of the contract.
Suppliers show the workings for their CO2 figures in bids. Favour the lowest.