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Planetary scale Ecological Regeneration with Earthshot Labs Troy Carter and Patrick Leung

Planetary-scale Ecological Regeneration with Earthshot Labs Co-Founders Troy Carter and Patrick Leung | Ep. 185 | Business Podcast

Planetary-scale Ecological Regeneration with Earthshot Labs Co-Founders Troy Carter and Patrick Leung | Ep. 185 | Business Podcast

Planetary scale Ecological Regeneration with Earthshot Labs Troy Carter and Patrick Leung
Planetary scale Ecological Regeneration with Earthshot Labs Troy Carter and Patrick Leung

Summary

Troy and Patrick share how they are coordinating a community of data scientists, climate entrepreneurs, investors, and domain experts to develop open-source data tools for regenerative land-use. 

By leveraging ecological machine learning models and field observation data they’re enabling landowners to participate in carbon markets regardless of their size. 

Listen in to hear how they are doing it!

About

Troy Carter, CEO Troy is a multidisciplinary entrepreneur committed to global ecological restoration. Prior to Earthshot, he co-founded RIZOME, a pioneer in large-scale reforestation and bamboo engineered lumber. He has worked on financing renewable energy and agriculture projects for the last six years.

Patrick Leung, CTO Before co-founding Earthshot Patrick was CTO at Two Sigma Private Investments, pioneering the use of data science in private equity markets. He was also a senior leader at Google for 11 years on Google Maps, Emerging Markets, and the Duplex AI system,

Links

Earthshot Labs

Hello friends.

Brandon:

Welcome to the Edge. Today we’re talking with Troy carter and Patrick lang who are co founders of Earth Shot Labs and these guys have an incredible audacious goal to restore 10 million acres of land that’s been degraded or destroyed by 2030.

Brandon:

And they are using machine learning models based on field observations to do this.

Brandon:

It’s a big goal, but one that our Earth needs.

Brandon:

Here we go.

Brandon:

Troy and Patrick with Earth Shot Labs.

Brandon:

Welcome to the Edge podcast, Your weekly playbook about the inner game of building a successful business, making you a happier, healthier and richer business owner.

Brandon:

And here’s your host, Brandon White.

Brandon:

Hey Troy, how are you?

Brandon:

I’m doing great.

Brandon:

How are you?

Brandon:

Right on.

Brandon:

I’m doing good.

Brandon:

Thanks for joining today. Thank you. I also invited, if you didn’t get the email invited. My co founder Patrick also join us because the story of what we’re doing is also a very relational story. And so I just thought I’d include him as all.

Brandon:

Yeah, that’s awesome. He didn’t accept the invite. Did you give him a heads up? I’m just, I’m just copying him on a zoom right now.

Brandon:

Oh, I copied him on that email. Yeah. Right. On what’s his first name?

Brandon:

Patrick Patrick.

Brandon:

Right, because in a way that’s how business is actually created.

Brandon:

Like this would be a hard, stressful, boring job if I didn’t have people that I really trusted to do this. Oh, of course man doing, doing solo businesses is one of the hardest things that, well you will ever do.

Brandon:

Oh, here he is.

Brandon:

That’s, that’s right.

Brandon:

You guys have like the most earthy, I feel like I’m in a very sterile environment by news. You know, I gotta get some green stuff man, I can feel that the energy flowing right through there.

Brandon:

Yeah, well, you know that’s that I would say is the essence of what we’re doing is bridging a love for the natural world with a level of technological river rigor to actually go do something about ecological collapse at a planetary scale.

Brandon:

You’ve got to live in a nature place if you if you’re doing that well, that’s for, that’s for sure they do.

Brandon:

I know that the good news is I live at the ocean so I can hear the ocean out out back, but I gotta get some plants.

Brandon:

This is a new studio and I just moved in because it’s a lot easier than the home studio with three Jack Russells occasionally barking in the background makes sense.

Brandon:

Well why don’t we get started?

Brandon:

And I don’t know who wants to go first, but maybe you could talk about just this journey to where you are, but step back a little bit on how this all got started, how you guys met and sort of came together and to be where you are now.

Brandon:

Okay, that’s good.

Brandon:

Maybe maybe I’ll just go first.

Brandon:

So this is Troy and Patrick and I started our shot when we met at a meditation retreat in Hawaii where I’ve been living the last seven years and the planet is in a pretty severe crisis right now on a level of climate that we can notice very strongly all over north America.

Brandon:

There are some pretty extreme weather events going on right now.

Brandon:

But more than just a climate crisis, there is a level of ecological crisis that underlies that where land use, degradation, deforestation, species collapse may accept a large part of the climate issue and also a potential large part of the solution.

Brandon:

And so Patrick and I came together really with a shared love of nature independent of whether there is a climate crisis or not.

Brandon:

So in essence Earth shot labs is using the fact that there is a big problem to address something that we want to happen anyway, which is large scale restoration of human relationship with nature.

Brandon:

And we’ve done some pretty cool stuff so far but mail it Patrick go part Yeah.

Brandon:

Um, so I’m the Tiki in this two hour and uh I’ve had quite a long career working at google and then after that a two sigma investments which is a hedge funds.

Brandon:

And I had a bit of an awakening shortly before meeting Troy where I realized that I really, really cared about nature and I wanted to make the rest of my career really count and have a positive impact.

Brandon:

And I’ve always been drawn to projects that were purpose driven.

Brandon:

But I guess out there in the and the beautiful general of the big guns, why really happy that we’re going to do something about all the destruction that we write and all the imbalance that created and arm bands on the planet.

Brandon:

And so this shot was the I guess the child of both of our respective backgrounds, my technology background, having ways to google and having done a lot of data science work and then Troy’s in regenerative agriculture, growing bamboo and construction materials made out of that bamboo.

Brandon:

So this is really interesting kind of a building about two respective backgrounds.

Brandon:

Well you you both explained how it happened, but I’m interested in actually you’re at this retreat and you always meet like minded people in general at these places.

Brandon:

Did you from this idea up over dinner, did you?

Brandon:

You know how did how did you do it on a napkin?

Brandon:

How does this happen?

Brandon:

So I want to say so one it’s a story of Patrick and I coming together, identifying something that we really care about going through the problem space of climate and ecological restoration to identify high leverage points to actually use technology to do something about it on a strategic level that’s what happened.

Brandon:

But yeah, it’s really over, we just sat down over dinner.

Brandon:

I actually wasn’t attending the retreat, I was attending to retreat the week after.

Brandon:

So I just had a little bit of overlap and we just sat down and basically in this space where we feel very connected, where our bodies physically feel open, where in a level just of embodied presence, the amount of inspiration as possible.

Brandon:

Super easy, right?

Brandon:

Like life just speaks to you and tells you, hey here are some things that you could be doing and I would say Earth Shot was born from that conversation.

Brandon:

It was just really one conversation and then about six months later, yeah, I think Patrick, you’re still working at two sigma at that point and not to disparage hedge funds, but we are doing something with a level of soulfulness that is hard to find in other organizations where actually the, the meaning of what we are working on is fun.

Brandon:

It is exciting, it feels purpose driven and people can feel that.

Brandon:

And so we, you know, this is why we have a community of more than 1000 people in the open source community now that essentially believe in that level of soulfulness, that the changes we’re making out a systemic technological layer will have real implications for nature will have real implications for indigenous and rural peoples all over the world.

Brandon:

We’ll have implications for like how the planet looks over the coming century.

Brandon:

And so I think we just, we talked about what we want in life and those were pretty similar.

Brandon:

So I was like, hey, let’s do it together.

Brandon:

Did you have an idea how you would fund this?

Brandon:

You know, like I spent a couple of years at a hedge fund and so it really opened my eyes as virus when you come up with ideas that are capable of generating decent returns.

Brandon:

A lot of doors open, a lot of avenues open and so I wasn’t used to even having worked at google, I wasn’t really on the financial side there, it was more core engineering development.

Brandon:

So to signal, I was much more exposed to the financial side and how one goes about raising large amounts of money to build new vehicles to invest in certain types of properties with certain types of businesses.

Brandon:

And so that became a lot more alive and real for me and so ensure and I started talking, I realized the potential to apply some of those techniques and some of those and suppose in a sense of scale to the ecological markets, into the ecological space because we need to affect change on a global scale, we need to have a massive impact in order to reverse some of the climatic and ecological damage that humanity is essentially kind of right on the environment and so we need to think really big Yeah.

Brandon:

And I think one thing like about funding, there is so much money right now looking for investment and looking for real solutions to climate change, like it’s an extraordinary amount and the reality is there are not enough good projects to invest in and so proposing a framework and real concrete solutions for climate change and ecological restoration.

Brandon:

We’ve seen a lot of resonance in the investor community, both for the seed round that we’re raising right now as well as future money that we’re planning for.

Brandon:

Project finance for doing direct on the ground reforestation and carbon development.

Brandon:

So there will be many, many layers of capital that have to be implemented in order to address this crisis at scale, which is not just venture funding, its level of infrastructure funding and large land use changes and broadly incentive structures for hundreds of millions of people that are landowners.

Brandon:

I mean, we’ve definitely had a lot of ideas about how this gets funded and also we’re doing some pretty novel things in our seed round right now.

Brandon:

They would be happy to talk about in ways to keep the integrity of the organization because it is a very unconventional sort of like it’s an unconventional company.

Brandon:

Well, let’s talk about that.

Brandon:

What type of unconventional funding are you aiming for are trying to do.

Brandon:

I saw that you’re a benefit corporation and I bet you both don’t know, is that true?

Brandon:

You are a benefit.

Brandon:

It is.

Brandon:

So, I had the first benefit company in the United states of America and helped get the legislation passed in Maryland to do that.

Brandon:

Congratulations.

Brandon:

Thanks for setting that stage.

Brandon:

I have this little award they gave me in our, in my closet.

Brandon:

It was years ago, but art.

Brandon:

And who else did that?

Brandon:

Another guy started that.

Brandon:

and I actually read about them in a magazine, I was like this is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard of and I speaking apply and they couldn’t believe it, But it’s with that benefit corporation you can probably do.

Brandon:

I think they’re called prs right from nonprofit foundations to invest in your company and the nonprofit gets to count that against the 5%.

Brandon:

Is that a strategy or some other ones?

Brandon:

Well, looks like we might have lost.

Brandon:

Right.

Brandon:

Global warming has cut down the internet from hawaii right now.

Brandon:

He’s in California.

Brandon:

There’s other ecological problems over there.

Brandon:

That’s true.

Brandon:

Huh?

Brandon:

Yeah, I haven’t heard of a public benefit corporation.

Brandon:

I only heard of Eclipse which are substantially more complicated but I was really happy that this simpler way of structuring the company existed in a way that we can actually really embed our values into, you know, the kind of the very fabric of the company.

Brandon:

So a couple of things about funding, we have an NSF S.

Brandon:

P.

Brandon:

I.

Brandon:

R.

Brandon:

Grant which was something that we kind of applied for way back when in november and kind of forgot about it.

Brandon:

It was, it was quite a lot of work to apply for the grant.

Brandon:

We had to kind of bring the whole team together, but it takes a while a kid three or four months and then to get back to you and that’s an eternity in this short time and in general, more general startup time.

Brandon:

And so we kind of almost forgotten about it.

Brandon:

And then we got an email from them saying oh we want to talk to you about this ground application and so we had a big long conversation with them and overall they were very, very supportive, they were really into what we were doing and kind of cheering us on, they had a bunch of questions and we had to pull the team together again to answer a whole bunch of them.

Brandon:

But it ended up being a really good exercise because we got to, we got the NSF stamp of approval on what we’re doing and we later found out that that’s one of the hardest grounds to get because there’s tons of people who apply for it, so we’re really proud about that.

Brandon:

Yeah, that’s it.

Brandon:

Oh, that’s a great start.

Brandon:

I mean the bar you’ve already crossed a very high bar there to get that, so that’s sort of I guess, got you started, are you doing any other interesting stuff around the funding side?

Brandon:

Yeah, I can go around a little bit into our seed round.

Brandon:

So the first thing is this is not the sort of company that you start to have an acquisition or an IPO or where we expect to exit the business at any point.

Brandon:

This is a multi generational endeavor and so it requires types of ownership and capital structure that are different.

Brandon:

So what we’re doing for the seed round is one offering non voting shares were also offering shares that are transact herbal on a private secondary market.

Brandon:

So it’s a tokenized safe note on the ethereum Blockchain so that people who invest can transact their shares on the secondary market easily to get liquidity without having to wait for the 7 to 10 years sort of venture cycle.

Brandon:

So we think that’s really cool investors get liquidity.

Brandon:

We’re still incentivized to remain in integrity with our open source mission as well as sort of the other sort of ecological focuses and decisions that will have to make over the coming years.

Brandon:

And we’re also attracting a really just interesting, cool group of people.

Brandon:

This is not an investment for everyone, but it’s an investment for people who deeply believe in ecological mission, who want to be part of a strategic conversation on going to be part of the retreats that we are hosting to create the systems that we want to see, to create the economic financial systems, ecological modeling systems, what systems need to exist for human civilization to thrive and for ecology to thrive.

Brandon:

So we’re going to be with these partners for a long time.

Brandon:

And so that speaks to you as as a listener, you know, definitely give us a call and it’s also it’s not just an impact investment.

Brandon:

This is something that we anticipate will be a large business and we can talk a little bit about maybe what the business is.

Brandon:

What is our shot labs doing anyway?

Brandon:

Well, I do want to talk about that, but but before we go there, I’m interested and before I ask the question, I will preface it.

Brandon:

That you don’t think I’m saying that this isn’t true because I spent 2.5 decades not on in a tire ecology but trying to save fish around the world native ones and did that for 2.5 decades so far through a family foundation and it’s been a incredible learning experience.

Brandon:

I think what we learned is you can’t isolate fish.

Brandon:

You have to look at communities, not just ecosystems, but the communities that live in the ecosystems, but one of the premises that your business is based on is that environmental change, global warming, whatever people are calling it is actually true.

Brandon:

So and I see Patrick smiling, I see Troy partially rolling his eyes at it.

Brandon:

Right.

Brandon:

But the truth is is that there’s a lot of people out there who don’t believe for whatever reason that the environment is in trouble.

Brandon:

I find it hard to believe.

Brandon:

I don’t know how you cut down rainforests, how you pollute the way we have or you kill the oceans the way we do and that I don’t know that earth dies, but mankind could die.

Brandon:

So do you have a response or thought about to these, these groups out there that say, look this is just the way the planet The planet is old, it’s billions of years old.

Brandon:

This is just a thing.

Brandon:

You know the fact that it’s 125° in Nevada is normal and things like that.

Brandon:

I am not here to convince anyone of anything, I don’t think any response that I could give right now would convince someone with all the other data points that they have.

Brandon:

So I’m just going to preach to the choir here.

Brandon:

If this is something that you care about already and that you know, is yours to respond to then engage with us through investment, through downloading the app, through using the platform.

Brandon:

And if you don’t believe it and don’t care about it, don’t worry about it.

Brandon:

The same with investment?

Brandon:

If this requires a hard sell and you’re like, you know, we need to do more diligence on this and this?

Brandon:

I’m really skeptical.

Brandon:

It’s probably not the right investment actually.

Brandon:

Someone who’s already been thinking about these themes who’s already deeply committed to ecological restoration, join the team and over time, I do believe that people will recognize the fact that human relationship with nature has gotten off track and whether what, regardless of political beliefs, regardless of views on climate change, it’s actually direct immediate contact with nature and do we how do you feel in an old growth forest?

Brandon:

How do you feel in truly intact ecosystems when you go scuba diving on a coral reef?

Brandon:

Do you like looking at a dead coral reef or one that’s vibrantly alive, Like you don’t need to have any particular political belief to have a visceral love for nature.

Brandon:

So, and that’s a cross category people who live in Wyoming or central us like maybe give them their, I think, oh, these people are backwards.

Brandon:

It’s not true, right?

Brandon:

It’s literally not true.

Brandon:

Everyone has a deep connection to earth and I do believe that that is a universal phenomenon.

Brandon:

A couple of things I would say, first of all, even if let’s just say fragments say that climate change wasn’t real or even if we had a magic wand and we waited and climate change, this went away tomorrow and things were back the way they were free humanity, we’d still be in trouble.

Brandon:

There’s still other ecological crises that are kind of following on and that are currently a little bit masked by the climate change debate because it’s so clear and present to most people.

Brandon:

But there’s also christ used to do with where there’s areas now that are degraded and you know, rainfall just runs off them and this droughts and the productivity of the land is just way lower than it used to be torso is being eroded.

Brandon:

We only have so many harvests left.

Brandon:

So we have other ecological crises that are kind of laid up behind climate change.

Brandon:

And so whether you believe it or not in climate change per se or not, there are still a lot of other things to be concerned about resulting from the way that humanity has been treated, the way we’re producing food.

Brandon:

That is our kind of goal with this shot is to really by focusing on land restoration, address a whole bunch of these at the same time, it’s not enough to just remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Brandon:

It’s there’s a whole bunch of other things, co benefits that we get from restoring nature from growing one shoes from restoring motorcycles, including biodiversity, including soil health and science.

Brandon:

Well, I knew I was coming on with two really smart guys and Troy, that’s probably one of the most brilliant answers that I’ve heard because my question was a VC question having been in D.

Brandon:

C.

Brandon:

And that’s what VCS always ask these questions, right?

Brandon:

What about this?

Brandon:

And then what if Google builds it?

Brandon:

Well?

Brandon:

If google builds it, they would already built it.

Brandon:

That’s why we’re here talking.

Brandon:

It’s not a very insightful question.

Brandon:

Honestly, we talked to the guys at Google all the time and they’re providing amazing tools for us, an amazing engineering resources.

Brandon:

So we love collaboration with organizations that would formally be considered competitors.

Brandon:

You’ll do fine raising money like we could wrap up here.

Brandon:

Thanks a lot guys from being on uh I’m halfway joking the I will agree.

Brandon:

Patrick, I think the things that you’re saying about water and things are absolutely true, There’s a water crisis in this country in the world that people don’t quite understand.

Brandon:

I spent some time on looking at water in the midwest and actually we did a movie on it and the Colorado River doesn’t even reach the ocean anymore.

Brandon:

I don’t know if you know that, but it doesn’t reach the ocean.

Brandon:

And the irony of it is that we have a treaty with Mexico that says that we have to release enough water down the Colorado River across the border.

Brandon:

So what we do is we pump the water out on our side and send it down to colorado to Mexico, ironically, we are pumping the water out of their water table And the water table has dropped about 14 ft basically below there.

Brandon:

We actually did flood the Colorado River and raised enough money to do it and it did go to the ocean.

Brandon:

There was some doubt that it would fill the 12 or 14-foot gap underneath that’s been basically trolled out.

Brandon:

But I’m only giving listeners this example to say that to build on what Patrick had said here, what Troy is is that it’s not just about these other things that civilization will consume a lot of water.

Brandon:

And there’s not enough water.

Brandon:

We’re all in some deep trouble.

Brandon:

So let’s talk about what the business actually is and does and what these 1000 people that you’ve been collaborating in the open source world and what the actual product is.

Brandon:

Yeah, I love to talk about this.

Brandon:

Our shot labs so far has been a research institution because we have a theory of change that says if we can measure ecosystems accurately enough, then a whole bunch of different possibilities are unlocked.

Brandon:

And some of those possibilities include more efficient carbon markets for incentivizing conservation and ecological interventions.

Brandon:

They could unlock widespread interventions like low tech water interventions including swales, check dams, reservoirs, shallow injection wells that are very well known strategies but are not well understood when applied across entire landscapes.

Brandon:

So so far it’s been a research institution grant funded by the NSF, as we currently mention a whole bunch of different contributors and three major product teams around forests, soil and water.

Brandon:

So these are leading academics and institutions and different companies contributing to an open source map of global ecosystems.

Brandon:

So in order for someone to take a map seriously, it has to really be open source transparent peer review, well understood by academia.

Brandon:

So that’s why we’re creating an open source map for a globally coherent way of how you measure ecosystems on top of that.

Brandon:

We’re building two products.

Brandon:

One is called Landau s and this is really the global, comprehensive way of an operating system for land management.

Brandon:

How do we do conservation.

Brandon:

So imagine any land on, on earth, whether it’s a small land or north one acre or an entire country that wants to manage their landscape.

Brandon:

They click on a parcel and our machine learning algorithms essentially say all the different regenerative possibilities that exist on that land and future simulations of what would happen when you imply those strategies in future iterations.

Brandon:

It will also include ways of connecting to carbon markets and other ways of actually monetizing those strategies.

Brandon:

So if a landowner wants to not cut down forests or do reforestation, we will connect them with a way of on boarding their carbon credits in a way that is automated and remotely verified and so that everyone on earth has access to carbon credits and ways to monetize ecological regeneration.

Brandon:

Because why does deforestation happened anyway?

Brandon:

It’s not like people hate forests and want to cut them down.

Brandon:

It’s because their economic incentives, they put cattle on the land, they grow soybeans, and so we need to create economic incentives for not cutting them down.

Brandon:

And right now, carbon markets and markets for ecosystem services are the best existing market lever for that.

Brandon:

And other levers will include policy.

Brandon:

So just take a quick example around, let’s say, the state of California, if we can provide a compelling simulation for doing large scale landscape restoration for water cycles, re vegetation, that would solve California’s water crisis.

Brandon:

Show that simulation to the governor of California, they would much more easily be able to make a policy decision to change things versus taking a lot of risk without knowing what the implications of doing these changes are.

Brandon:

So lando estas a product for policy makers for investors and for individual landowners to manage landscapes all across earth.

Brandon:

We’ve never seen what true regeneration at a planetary scale could look like tangibly.

Brandon:

So our simulation will also be like a visceral a our experience where hey, this area could be an old growth redwood forest and here’s how it would grow over time.

Brandon:

Thats landau s we think it’s pretty cool and not something that we’ve seen exist before.

Brandon:

It’s totally new product category.

Brandon:

The second product is by, um, because most of our machine learning models are really from satellite imagery, we look at the earth from space, do imagery and space born lighter and do above ground biomass estimation and identify water features and terrain and space born imagery is pretty good, but it’s not quite good enough to give really, really accurate recommendations for small parcels of land or do carbon verification on small, small parcels.

Brandon:

So instead we’re developing an app where someone can use the brilliant technology of a smartphone and do a light our scan or take pictures of trees to provide the training data and on the ground site observations for everyone on earth to be able to go through the carbon credit process for free with their own device without having to have a professional verifier come through and it costs half a million dollars potentially.

Brandon:

So that’s really crowdsourced science crowdsourced science, I mean, and that’s just the first iteration sort of the end game we can imagine Pokemon go slash trees where you have 500 million teenagers taking pictures of trees and building the largest crowdsource citizen science movement that we can imagine.

Brandon:

That’s what we love in a couple of years.

Brandon:

You know, when you, when you think about it, a smartphone is a very powerful, potentially very powerful scientific instruments.

Brandon:

So many senses, you know, the latest iphone pros have, as we mentioned later, Which is a great way of measuring the depth and three dimensional landscapes.

Brandon:

You have accelerometers in there, you have microphone, you have the cameras which are very sophisticated.

Brandon:

There’s a lot you can tell just by taking a photo of soil and looking at the color of that soil and asking, you know, the person taking the photo to maybe sort of make some observations about that soil and that is data that is sorely needed both for science in terms of training machine learning models as well as for cohen verification in terms of providing insight into how much come on there is both above ground in the form of vegetation as well as below ground, in the form of soil.

Brandon:

Yeah, I think it’s super powerful what you’re what you’re doing.

Brandon:

I want to stay back to you both so that I make sure that I understand it is that people can document their current land that they own and if there believe or need to make money with that land instead of cutting down a forest or it might not even be a forest, I don’t know, it might be natural vegetation for all that matter that helps run off and cleans water and does all those things that they could document that they can put it into this map your algorithms will figure out how much in carbon credits they could sell to make money off that land and then there’s some sort of financial analysis that’s done that says, if you’re gonna put cows on it, here’s how much you’re going to make, here’s how much you can make in carbon credits, which are you hope is gonna come out to be as much and then they make the decision to sell those carbon credits and you’ve created or will create or have access to a platform that they can actually monetize these potential carbon credits into real hard cash.

Brandon:

That’s exactly it.

Brandon:

You get it, wow, well done.

Brandon:

Well, I try to listen and follow along and do you access existing carbon credit platforms or are you creating your own?

Brandon:

It’s a great question.

Brandon:

So, I think we know all the players in this space, existing voluntary market, like existing voluntary third party regulatory bodies, compliance based markets, you know, european trading scheme in California are be gold standard Vcs as as voluntary bodies.

Brandon:

And then there’s sort of a new crop of young startup companies doing, let’s say novel carbon credit instruments.

Brandon:

The first step is measurement because none of these platforms have scalable measurement systems and there needs to be a globally coherent way of measuring things, which for us means developing new methodologies with existing regulatory bodies and then perhaps eventually releasing our own system.

Brandon:

And we think the other regulatory bodies, our bodies are doing an Austin job.

Brandon:

They’ve sort of pioneered this field for decades now, there are some innovations that we think we can introduce one is being completely transparent about the metadata at every single step.

Brandon:

So who collected the data?

Brandon:

What was the data point?

Brandon:

What was the machine learning algorithm used to interpret it across the landscape?

Brandon:

What is the uncertainty at each of those points?

Brandon:

Because even if you have a professional verify through, it’s still quite uncertain like how much carbon is in this landscape?

Brandon:

It’s hard to measure.

Brandon:

So understanding each of these points and transparently passing them through to the final credit.

Brandon:

And also the risk factors, fire, land use, change, risk, storm risk.

Brandon:

There’s a lot of things that we can’t see an existing carbon markets and we need to be able to see in order for them to actually scale up worldwide.

Brandon:

So we probably at some point we’ll introduce our own system for doing that or partner with some of these newer Blockchain based ways of transacting department credits, do you already have, do the models suggest that let’s take a forest because I guess there’s a lot known about forest or enough known so are the economics actually there with carbon credits currently that it makes sense to not deforest in area and that the carbon credits that they can sell for that to not cut that down offsets what they would make with cattle or growing some sort of whatever they, whatever they’re going to grow.

Brandon:

Is that economic thing there?

Brandon:

Now, it’s a really great question.

Brandon:

In short, the answer is usually no, and I wish it was yes, but it’s usually know agriculture is pretty profitable.

Brandon:

If you cut down a native forest and you plant tomatoes in central brazil, you’re going to make more money planting tomatoes and that will probably change right now, the price of carbon credits is very low, Which does not price into the real ecological value of the services that the forest is providing.

Brandon:

So this is why most experts believe that the price will go way up from, you know, say sub $10, let’s say 3-7 is sort of the average carbon credit price right now to maybe $50, maybe $100.

Brandon:

And if that happens, the economics of saving forests will change dramatically.

Brandon:

Where then suddenly a standing force becomes a huge asset of of storage and also continue to sequester carbon.

Brandon:

It also means that there’s some interesting things that happened to land values.

Brandon:

So what happens with a piece of deforested land in Panama or Ecuador or brazil or West Africa that’s worth basically zero for agriculture, it’s a scrubby, hilly, difficult access place, What if it’s suddenly worth $5,000 an acre for carbon sequestration value.

Brandon:

That will have dramatic implications for land agency for land grab by large institutional buyers.

Brandon:

So there’s a huge arbitrage opportunity, but there’s also a huge unintended consequences that will come from monetizing nature.

Brandon:

So part of our mission at Earth Shot is to steward the transition as we move into properly valuing nature so that so that the people who are truly stewarding land on the ground don’t just get disenfranchised by large players coming in.

Brandon:

So, you know, the technology where they were building is going to have major implications for hundreds of millions of people and it’s going to be something that we’re going to have to make 1000 small decisions about how to design systems actually in service of equity, in service of economic justice.

Brandon:

And so it’s something we care a lot about.

Brandon:

Yeah, it’s one observation just from the investment world is that you start enough spreadsheets and you start looking at the world a bit like a giant spreadsheet, like it’s a model to be optimized and you can even look at ecological restoration to some extent, like we’re trying to optimize, you know biodiversity or trying to increase biomass and it’s a, it’s a number to be improved and the reality is that when you start talking about altering the land, there’s people’s lives involved, there’s local sensibilities, There’s maybe many generations of indigenous culture and values that need to be taken into consideration.

Brandon:

And so remains in a lot of discussions and meetings and considered just kind of on the ground knowledge and and it’s informing our products to be really critical.

Brandon:

So speaking of spreadsheets and doing that have a tendency.

Brandon:

My brother says I run too many models and somewhere between running too many models and actually doing it I think is the right happy medium is what I’ve learned after a few decades.

Brandon:

But there is a model here that says when we cut X.

Brandon:

Amount of forests and I know we’re talking about forest and this applies to a lot of other things that we can talk about.

Brandon:

If we cut down X amount more of forest, the carbon credit price will go up.

Brandon:

And at that point on the graph the X.

Brandon:

Or whatever you’re charting changes, right?

Brandon:

It goes from unprofitable to profitable.

Brandon:

So have you modeled that yet to under I’m curious like because if that’s the case, let’s just cut down, I mean, I hate to say it, but let’s cut down another 100,000 acres of rainforest and then we hit the change and now all of a sudden we at least keep what we have and start to incentivize people to plant new forests effectively now.

Brandon:

So I would say we hit this change point this year and what the change point is isn’t not cutting down forests, but it’s actually that reforestation is profitable so we can acquire Incredibly inexpensive land that was deforested sometime in the last 50 years.

Brandon:

Let’s take the Philippines as an example, our partner with local groups that have a agency of large pieces of land do reforestation and that is profitable just for selling carbon credits.

Brandon:

And that’s something that has not been the case ever.

Brandon:

And so I would say there’s been a major inflection point and there’s also been a big change in the carbon market where there’s so much demand and it outstrips supply of nature based carbon re rules by a lot right.

Brandon:

It could be 100 times by a lot right now.

Brandon:

And so the demand for reforestation is huge, which is also why we’re going to do something that tech companies don’t usually do, which is start on the ground operations.

Brandon:

We just were starting to work with some of the largest reforestation groups in the world to actually go to pilot projects, implement the technology that we’re applying for verification and landscape level planning and also go do it on the ground.

Brandon:

And we believe this is an important step and also an opportunity to learn a lot of lessons and dr short short term value, which is planting trees and earning carbon credits.

Brandon:

Sport.

Brandon:

Yeah, I think Brandon your earlier point about people potentially winning the game the system, there’s a really good, really good point.

Brandon:

I mean the fact is that and any system where you reward people with money, people are going to try to give them and this is why we and many others believe that we need to move beyond sort of the carbon.

Brandon:

Such a strong carbon focus.

Brandon:

The fact is that our economy today doesn’t really value things the way they should be valued, biodiversity is a really valuable thing and losing biodiversity is a potentially really very negative outcome fishing attitude similar to our soil as a very valuable thing.

Brandon:

And so we are working with others in this ecological space to promote co benefits and to figure out other ways to really motivate people and reward people for doing things that directly and only concerned with carbon sequestration I think I mentioned before, but all we wanted to do was sequester a whole bunch of carbon.

Brandon:

Let’s just grow bamboo monocultures.

Brandon:

It grows really fast and then just cut it down and keep on growing it.

Brandon:

But that wouldn’t result in the world will be probably want to live in or would have at the very least we have very negative other outcomes for the ecology is concerned.

Brandon:

And so we are really concerned and very interested in promoting these so called co benefits that include the soil health and the water catchment and so on.

Brandon:

So we can fully value when she gives us one thing that I experienced is that I believe all the things that Earth Shot stands for and I think you’re doing incredibly innovative stuff.

Brandon:

The models and people have to have models to drive policy and I wish that it wasn’t all about carbon credits.

Brandon:

But the reality is, is behavioral economics suggests that if you don’t architect a system like that, then humans won’t do a behavior.

Brandon:

It’s just the way unfortunately it works.

Brandon:

This is going to take nations, It’s going to take large amounts of people and people today seem to be addicted to the Internet.

Brandon:

They wake up in the morning in general In general.

Brandon:

If you have two kids and a couple, you wake up in the morning and you got to figure out how to get to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a Capri sun and some chips into a bag to get the lunch.

Brandon:

How do you, how are you thinking about reaching?

Brandon:

And I’m not saying it’s the masses, but it’s it’s the reality of people’s lives because everything you’ve said is really important.

Brandon:

I’ve had the challenge of getting people’s attention to say, hey, look, biodiversity is important.

Brandon:

If we don’t have that, we don’t have X.

Brandon:

And sometimes the responses Brandon, I’m just trying to get up in the morning, get two kids out to school and pay the mortgage on the 30th and there’s there’s this aspirational thing and then there’s the reality of that if we want to accomplish everything that both of you have laid out, we’ve got to have a way to, I hate to say market but engaged these peoples.

Brandon:

So what’s your thoughts about this?

Brandon:

Yeah, we’ve thought a lot about this.

Brandon:

So I’d say there’s a few levels in the way we were thinking about this.

Brandon:

The first is on one level I have, the totally opposite experience is that the earth shot community is taking advantage of an overwhelming cultural will to contribute to climate change and solutions that involve nature.

Brandon:

The community is 1000 people right now and that has grown very quickly over the last six months, maybe next year will be 10,000 people.

Brandon:

Maybe it’ll be 100,000 people.

Brandon:

We see overwhelming interest and enthusiasm from world class scientists, software engineers, designers, just everyday people who want to contribute in some way that’s meaningful.

Brandon:

And so this community is a way for that to actually happen.

Brandon:

The second is by um, and we talked about Pokemon go slash trees and there’s, I don’t know how old your kids are, but if they’re about 12, probably they really liked Pokemon co and but it’s sort of it’s a little bit empty right to go around and collect the little little animals.

Brandon:

So what if you could do that but actually have real tangible impact?

Brandon:

I might actually play that.

Brandon:

And so we believe there needs to be away for every person on earth to meaningfully engage with the climate crisis in a way that’s free where all they have to do is walk around and also engage with nature and bio bizarre way for that to happen where they can collect valuable citizen science information that is essential for us where potentially they could also get paid.

Brandon:

So in places where there’s not enough training data, Sub Saharan Africa, Central America, people might be able to make full livelihoods using this app where actually the training data they’re collecting is useful for carbon verification and enough that they can actually get paid.

Brandon:

And that creates a whole incentive structure for a positive feedback group to continue helping us understand ecosystems better by directly engaging with them, taking pictures going on hikes.

Brandon:

That’s really cool.

Brandon:

Yeah, I was going to be that I think uh every year that goes by there are more and more people who are really concerned about this, whether it’s because they’re part of the younger generation and they just have a greater awareness or a larger percentage of their lives in this ecological crisis age.

Brandon:

Well, because we’re seeing more and more of these fires and flooding and all these things that directly affect people’s lives.

Brandon:

By the way, there is a demand, you know, people, people want to be able to do something.

Brandon:

They’re just not sure what One interesting observation might be that.

Brandon:

So for an average person to cancel out there currents like French and this, this depends on what kind of lifestyle they lead and how much how much they fly and drive and all that.

Brandon:

But this is the order of about $20 a month.

Brandon:

So that’s a couple of netflix accounts, right?

Brandon:

I mean this is the kind of thing where a lot of these people are looking about who have heard the jelly sandwiches and so on.

Brandon:

I could definitely do that and obviously it is how to reach to some people and there are other things that people can do to cancel out there haven’t been that don’t involve money.

Brandon:

I’m just taking, I’m speaking purely in terms of paying money to plant trees in order to cancel out your comments at present.

Brandon:

But you can also shrink your carbon footprint.

Brandon:

But I think what people are looking for is just a way to engage and that’s as Troy was saying, that’s really what we want to do with this app is to teach people just help give them agency and help help them to be part of the solution.

Brandon:

How are people finding you now?

Brandon:

We’re totally new.

Brandon:

So it’s pretty much all word of mouth within the academic and sort of like software design community.

Brandon:

We’re only just now starting to raise money from outside investors.

Brandon:

We’re only just now starting to publish what we do because we actually have something real.

Brandon:

We have a year of real research that has been cutting edge and in the coming months we’ll be releasing bio and lando s for everyone to engage.

Brandon:

They’re not out yet.

Brandon:

But you can go to the website Earth shot dot echo sign up on the waiting list and we’ll let you know when they’re out.

Brandon:

And also just through a newsletter where you know, we talk about things like carbon arbitrage and the different future of technology that we can see on evolving in the future of carbon markets.

Brandon:

The reality is that there are no experts in this field, There are experts that have been experts on the way things have been, but no one knows where it’s going right now.

Brandon:

No one knows what the carbon market will look like.

Brandon:

No one knows exactly the technological landscape that will exist a few years down the road.

Brandon:

So we’re in the conversation all the time with our with different companies with institutional partners with just a lot of other smart people that want to create the systems.

Brandon:

So if you want to create those systems with us join the slack community and you know, we host in person events.

Brandon:

We host seminars and our products have dramatically changed our vision of how the future will look has dramatically changed over the past year and a half.

Brandon:

And so you can help inform that.

Brandon:

What are the 1000 people doing?

Brandon:

Are they you mentioned they were open source, are they actually collecting the data?

Brandon:

Are they writing code for the apps?

Brandon:

I don’t know, it could mean all of these different things I guess.

Brandon:

So for the most part we have five different teams and they’re all developing technology for different kinds.

Brandon:

So we have three research teams that are collecting data that’s out there, mostly remote sensing data.

Brandon:

We have actually partners now that we swapped data with and we have scientific groups that were actually vibrating with building models and they’re essentially building predictive models for modeling certain aspects of ecological change, whether it’s the biomass and carbon sequestration arising from trees, growing, reforestation, whether it’s below ground soil.

Brandon:

So we have a whole team working on soil and then we have a whole team working on water restoration and looking at predicting for every man as long as what the most appropriate and valuable water restoration, thinking it might be.

Brandon:

And then we have the two product teams.

Brandon:

So these are all technology people with complemented by ecologists that have too many cities uh in various areas such as soil and such as hydrology and such as forestry and they’re working together to build technology and do you both of you are both of you the core, I’m gonna say management team that coordinates all this because that sounds like a full time job just coordinating all these teams and and helping enable them to build what they’re the end product that they’re looking for.

Brandon:

So we do have a really amazing core group of leaders who have stepped up to help us manage these teams.

Brandon:

We also subscribe to the method of management that’s much more decentralized and much more about individual empowerment.

Brandon:

You know, I worked for many, many years in large organizations where I saw the kind of teams that really, really succeed and do amazing work are the ones where people feel fully empowered and have the authority to make the key decisions.

Brandon:

And so we’re creating a culture like that where the teams have a lot of autonomy and when we come in and we we ask interesting questions and pose interesting challenges and by not just here and there, but we do lean heavily on the fact that we have people who are very passionate, anybody believe in the vision and mostly what we do is is kind of like the steve jobs died about management and provide a strong vision, hire the best best people chief of alignment that vision and let them change the world.

Brandon:

Is there a name for that type of management?

Brandon:

Because I know listeners are going to ask about that, is there, I don’t know what that’s called because it’s not a flat organization, it’s basically an empowered organization where they have the autonomy to make the decisions and and some sort of level of autonomy around budget and things like that as well.

Brandon:

Right.

Brandon:

Yeah, So one great resource is a book called Reinventing Organizations and it essentially provides a framework for understanding organizations in a spiral dynamics worldview.

Brandon:

And so essentially what we’re building is a version of a teal organization, which is essentially one where you have a deeply collaborative group of sovereign individuals who are all independently committed to the same purpose.

Brandon:

We all want to ensure the restoration of ecology and regenerative livelihoods at a planetary scale.

Brandon:

Everyone’s independently committed to it.

Brandon:

We don’t need to convince anyone of that.

Brandon:

They’re coming to us because they want to contribute and they want a platform to use their energy.

Brandon:

So we’re just, we’re just a place for everyone to get together and do it together.

Brandon:

So we’re not hiring people in a way they’re sort of like hiring us.

Brandon:

And we have some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met on earth giving their time two things they truly believe in.

Brandon:

And that’s the sort of people that I want to be working with over the coming decades.

Brandon:

And it’s fun.

Brandon:

It’s way more fun because we don’t need to micromanage individual people’s schedules.

Brandon:

We just need to to come together to provide a coherent direction orientation set of values that we all believe in.

Brandon:

Clear product strategy and then people can go work as they need to.

Brandon:

How much money are you raising Right now?

Brandon:

We’re raising $5 million.

Brandon:

That’s in addition to a whole bunch of other grant funding that we are starting to get as well.

Brandon:

And that provides probably a year and a half of runway for a full time team that we are hiring as well as getting us to a point where we’re doing direct project development, have released Landau s and bio and starting running transactions where we will be taking commissions on carbon credits.

Brandon:

So this is a proper business.

Brandon:

This is a for profit company which right now we believe is the structure that actually best serves the mission.

Brandon:

If we thought a nonprofit or another type of organization would serve the mission better, we would do that.

Brandon:

But we actually believe that taking outside investment in this structure as a for profit entity actually will provide the highest caliber product that will be easiest to use the best design that will attract the highest quality of employees and also provide an incentive structure, not just for us As founders or just the first core group of employees but be able to engage maybe 100,000 or maybe 10 million stakeholders around the world in future years.

Brandon:

Yeah, I tend to agree with you that the, not that I’m some expert but I sure beat my head against the wall for a really long time trying to figure out that the nonprofit or the triple bottom line benefit corporation tight model that at least from a corporate standpoint protects you from having to sell to the highest price but take these other factors into can I also think it holds the organizational organization more accountable in the sense that it eventually needs to become self sufficient and when I was listening to you, I was like, well if you create your own platform, I just take a fee off those carbon credits and that’s how I found myself.

Brandon:

If I can get that going long term.

Brandon:

So I love your model.

Brandon:

Have you considered crowdsourcing?

Brandon:

Because that would inherently get the citizens, so to speak, crowdsourcing the money itself or are you doing the traditional series, seed or series A or whatever the structure is?

Brandon:

So we love crowdfunding.

Brandon:

We will be doing crowdfunding at some point due to whatever the complexity of sec regulations and just managing a lot of investor complexity.

Brandon:

We are doing a more conventional seed round right now for institutional and accredited investors.

Brandon:

So we’ll raise the first five million from accredited investors And perhaps the 2nd 5 million will raise through crowdfunding so that everyone on earth can participate.

Brandon:

But we also have a little bit of reluctance to do it through existing crowdfunding platforms where they are capturing the secondary market and we really want to do this in a way that provides like deep long term integrity for all shareholders.

Brandon:

And so, you know, we’re being very thoughtful about how we’re fundraising, we’re not in a rush and we want to ensure the long term success and integrity of the organization.

Brandon:

I think that’s a good way to go about it.

Brandon:

Do you guys have a deck that’s public or do people need to write, you have to find it, you can just go to Earth Shot dot co slash invest our deck and investor memos there.

Brandon:

It’s a fully open equity companies.

Brandon:

So you can actually just go through the website and invest through the website to create a smart contract to put the money in.

Brandon:

It will do the whole accredited investor verification check.

Brandon:

And if you’re not in credit investor, you can join the waiting list so that in a couple months when nana credit investors are allowed to enter the round, you’ll get an email call.

Brandon:

What’s that website again?

Brandon:

Earth Shot echo slashed invest, check that out.

Brandon:

We’ll put that in the show notes.

Brandon:

You guys got a cool company man and you’re super smart.

Brandon:

And I think the idea, I think we need the idea here on Earth and if we can get some people behind it, then maybe we can save ourselves from ourselves someday.

Brandon:

Thank you.

Brandon:

Thank you so much.

Brandon:

We ship words.

Brandon:

Thanks for being generous with your time and joining us for this episode of the edge.

Brandon:

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