Stripe has revealed it is spending $1 million to fight climate change. For those who may not know what Stripe is, it’s an online payment platform that allows online sellers such as myself to accept credit card payments, Apple Pay, or even Google Pay for goods and services.
The founders plan to spend a quarter of a million dollars to import a special type of sand to a remote Caribbean beach. This sand is made from olivine, known as peridot as a gemstone. This olivine is coarsely milled and will be brought to the water’s edge so that the waves can grind it up. This will apparently help the ocean to absorb more carbon. Many people may not realize this about the August birthstone, but peridot has a unique climate change fighting ability. The gem is a magnesium iron silicate that is able to absorb carbon dioxide from the air. (It was also once used as currency in ancient times, but that’s another story.)
This plan to use olivine is just one of four investments the brothers who founded Stripe are making. Another tech deal will fund a new project that will put carbon into concrete to strengthen it. A third deal will take biomass that would normally decompose and release carbon (think almond shells) and use it to produce bio-oil for burial far underground. The total amount of Stripe is spending is $1 million. This news follows Stripe’s CEO, Patrick Collison, pledging back in August to pay for innovative methods to get carbon dioxide out of the air instead of buying cheap offsets. Is it fate or a twist of irony that the pledge was made in August, which has the birthstone olivine?
The impact Stripe is having was noticed by Microsoft, which later said it would invest $1 billion into carbon removal. Microsoft’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Crider (I honestly have no idea if I’m related to her or not), says that, “It’s terrific to see companies like Stripe making bold commitments about carbon removal.”
The avenues chosen will probably come as a bit controversial, though, as it’s widely considered that the best “bang for the buck” to cut global warming emissions comes from investing in the deployment of clean energy or electric vehicles. For $1 million, much more impact can be made cutting CO2 emissions. This is still a free country, though, and people are drawn to different solutions for a variety of reasons. Also, there’s always potential to cut costs while scaling up and maturing.
Stripe’s Four Projects
1. ClimeWorks. Based in Switzerland, this is one of the three best known startups that take carbon straight from the air. Stripe is one of its corporate customers.
2. CarbonCure Technologies. This 8-year-old company puts carbon into concrete. CarbonCure, a venture-backed Canadian company, has a method that is used in 285 concrete plants. Concrete is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases. Stripe, unlike CarbonCure’s other investors, which include Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, will be paying for the carbon elimination.
3. Charm Industrial. Charm produces bio-oil from biomass that would otherwise decompose. Then it sequesters it underground. Burying the mass would take too much energy and would eventually produce methane.
4. Project Vesta. The olivine project is known as Project Vesta. Vesta will use the funding from Stripe to takes its experiments with olivine out of the lab and to the Caribbean beach. In seawater, olivine’s minerals form solid carbon compounds while reducing the water’s acidity and also absorb carbon dioxide from the air. What makes this work is milling the stone to create more surface area. The Environmental Defense Fund’s chief scientist, Steven Hamburg, says that “Mineral weather is an idea that’s only now emerging. It clearly works, but when, where, and how, and how does the economics work? That becomes the key.”
Image via Stripe
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