Innovation and Abuse


Last week Global Thermostat met with an oil producing firm that uses CO2 to produce oil from Enhanced Oil Recovery in Canada.  The idea of hooking up with GT, who is possibly the lowest cost producer of CO2 in the world today, and who can produce unlimited amounts of CO2, is obviously appealing in a region of the world that has over 1.4 billion barrels of oil to be recovered by using CO2. Global Thermostat can produce virtually unlimited amounts of CO2 - gigatons of CO2 - out of the atmosphere, since humans alone are injecting 30 gigatons of CO2 each year.

Graciela Chichilnisky, Benjamin Bronfman, and Peter Eisenberger at the GT plant

The interest in GT seems therefore predictable, though I was taken aback by a question from one of their executives: "How do you find the time to do what you are doing at Global Thermostat?” In response I said - truthfully - that I had no choice.  Working for Global Thermostat and its technology's commercialization I was doing what I had to do to move on with the rest of my life, since Global Thermostat's commercial success stands in the crossroads - in the critical path - of everything that matters to me. My work with the United Nations Climate Negotiations, the UNFCCC, my creation and the ultimate success of the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol - as I explain in my recent book "Saving Kyoto" - requires at this point carbon negative technologies, the building of carbon negative power plants that can suck carbon from air. They are 45% of the emissions and without a true transformation of these sources of carbon into sinks - there is no real solution. This is the Global Thermostat solution, and I need the commercial success of Global Thermostat to develop my own scientific thinking and writing about the economics of the 21st Century - the solar economy - which depends on being able to produce sources of power in the developing nations that clean the atmosphere and preserve a stable climate. I need Global Thermostat to succeed for everything that I have to do in the rest of my life.

One thing led to another and we started discussing how innovation and the creativity that is embodied in the Global Thermostat technology is a cause of pain and abuse more than satisfaction and relaxation. Relaxation, I said? The word is an oxymoron in this context. Relaxation, indeed.

They suggested that I write a blog on the topic of innovation and abuse. Good suggestion. The list of examples is dizzying. For example, my book "Saving Kyoto" provides a step by step report of the abuse I received as the author of the carbon market of the United Nations Kyoto Protocol, in particular the responses I received while I designed and then wrote the carbon market itself into the Protocol, which was signed by 160 nations in December 1997. Initially I was accused of being an unabashed capitalist who was trying to find a market approach to the sacred values of the environment, allowing emitters to get off easy if they paid - and not too different from 'selling one's own grandmother'. More recently the tide shifted and now 195 nations in the world have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and its carbon market that is international law since 2005, trading $200 billion a year. However, in the US - who signed but did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol - the carbon market is now construed as 'too favorable to the environment' and to the developing nations. The only constant in all this is the abuse: you can't win.

There are other less political examples on my website such as this article that I published in a book entitled "Rejected" that documents the most important recent works in economics and how they were rejected time and time again from publication - a book where a large number of the other authors are Nobel Laureates who reported on the persistent and abject rejection of what turned out to be their most important and innovative works. I am not alone in receiving abuse from innovation. It happens to the best of us.

Innovation is possible only if one is willing to live with extreme forms of abuse: social ostracism. Rabid attacks from the academic community. In Global Thermostat, the situation is extreme, and Peter Eisenberger and I have been considered crazy - after lifelong scientific successes as conventionally defined in the scientific community.

I have some training in this form of abuse because in creating the concept of satisfaction of Basic Needs to measure economic progress, rather than standard GDP, I apparently stepped on many toes - judging by the publication record of the first book we wrote in Argentina on the Bariloche Model in 1974, "Catastrophe or New Society", where I introduced Basic Needs as the basis of Sustainable Development.  While subsequently published in 13 languages and becoming a world's best seller, this book was never published in Argentina or in Latin America its home, or even the Spanish language at all. 

There is no need to belabor the point. This blog is to alert the reader of the amount of abuse to be expected when one engages in serious innovation. Very few months ago, serious scientific reports appeared to say that Global Thermostat technology was impossible in economic terms, only to be overcome by a barrage of experimental evidence, and scientific and commercial third party results showing exactly the opposite. Only to be expected. Sigh.

Innovation, in truth, is not for the faint of heart. There is satisfaction at the end of the rainbow, but it is only the satisfaction of fighting the right battle - not of winning it. There is no acceptance at the end of the rainbow. If one's work is accepted peacefully or deserving of prizes - beware! One's ability to innovate and create may be compromised, it may be over.  Judging by the reaction we receive about Global Thermostat technology, the reception is enormously gratifying - but the fight is not over. Long live innovation!

4th of July Celebration


Today is the 4th of July and a watershed for Global Thermostat. It is a bit early to celebrate - I realize that - but Global Thermostat's recent accomplishments have been truly amazing. 

One has to be grateful for the opportunity to make a dent on a problem of the magnitude of climate change - and to have produced a technology that makes clean energy profitable helps with the transformation of the global economy.

Last week we had four important events that - as I said in my last blog - have changed our company forever:

·     Monday we were asked to supply CO2 for Wyoming oil fields exchange for sharing in the oil revenues of millions of barrels that can be produced with CO2 but not without it.

·     Tuesday we discussed helping a prominent industrial complex in Turkey to clean its refineries and power plants as it would be necessary for Turkey's entry into the European Union.

Ahmet Murat Yıldırım
Ahmet Murat Yıldırım

Irmak Kockan Ersolmaz
Irmak Kockan Ersolmaz

·     Thursday two prominent members of the Clinton Foundation decided they want to work with us and confirmed our view of Global Thermostat as a truly global transformational play.

·     Friday we had a large meeting with our partners at Corning to develop ways to supply the chemicals and materials that will make our technology the lowest cost producer of CO2 in the world.

Not too bad for a week's work.

Last week we learned that there is no petroleum shortage; there is only a shortage of CO2 to produce oil.

After last week's whirlwind, the weekend seemed a time for reflection. Today is Monday the 4th of July and there was a large parade in Mendocino, on the Northern California Coast, where I was staying. Nothing but blue skies, fresh sea breeze a strong sun, and many colorful people: all this following a wonderful night with Latino music Pura Vida and spicy dancing at Mendocino's Hill House Hotel. 

The brief period of reflection this weekend will not last long. Tuesday we have two more important events at SRI in Menlo Park, at the site of the Global Thermostat Pilot Plant - one is to forge the terms of a deal for a business opportunity in Alberta Canada, where we are told 40,000 tons per day of CO2 are needed to produce oil - many millions of barrels of oil - yet another opportunity to use our CO2 to share on the upside in the energy industry. And Tuesday afternoon a business group from Abu Dhabi comes to work out a timely and strategic move to take a leadership role in the new clean energy economy. Phew.

Above: Peter Eisenberger SRI Enhance Energy presentation July 5 2011

 Eisenberger Chichilnisky MacGregor

Left to right: Peter Eisenberger, Graciela Chichilnisky, and Ian MacGregor CEO of Enhance Ebergy at GT Pilot plant SRI July 2011

Itani Lee Eisenberger MacGregor Laycock

Sarah Itani, Gary Lee, Peter Eisenberger, Ian Mac Gregor, David Laycock at SRI visiting GT PILOT PLANT July 5 2011

Some photos of last week and this week are posted above - more to come. I think this is history in the making. I do realize that there will be many ups and downs, but the sheer power of what has been achieved by itself provides an irrepressible momentum forward. It is a bit scary. But there is no turning back now. Upward and onward. 

Global Thermostat Takes Off


The last two weeks convinced me that we need to blog Global Thermostat, record its evolution online, and its brief history. 

Global Thermostat started in 2006, co-founded by Peter Eisenberger and myself (more on us later) - but since then a lot of water went under the bridge and now we are the lowest cost producer of CO2 in the world, which we take from air, making cleaning the atmosphere profitable.

Yes - GT's technology takes carbon from air and monetizes it. This means that cleaning the atmosphere now becomes profitable - a complete reversal of global trends where historically and until today energy companies made most profits in the world - think Exxon-Mobil - buy emitting CO2. We at GT make profits by removing CO2 from the atmosphere!

Global Thermostat technology is taking off with a bang. We now have four very profitable offers to sell CO2 for oil companies - three in the US and one in China. These companies will inject our CO2 (taken from air) to increase petroleum extraction. CO2 acts as a solvent and pushes out more oil than was possible before. According to the DOE, for each ton of CO2 injected one gets an additional three (3) barrels of oil.

Global Thermostat can help national security. The US can become completely self-sufficient this way: injecting CO2 it will produce enough additional oil that we in the US need not import one drop for at least 23 years - according to the DOE.

This can make reducing carbon popular, for a change!

Some of the CO2 injected stays behind - so at the end we emit a negative net amount.

But this is just the beginning. Because our technology runs with low heat, we can make power plants carbon negative: using the heat the plants discard GT technology absorbs twice as much carbon from air as plant emissions. Power plants are the largest source of emissions in the world 45% - so this is a serious contribution to prevent climate change.

GT can change the power industry - and help the transition to renewable energy. Solar plants produce enough heat to drive our technology and take carbon from air. Solar power plants can become carbon negative and more profitable, with GT technology, more competitive.  This way GT helps the transition to renewable energy.

All this we knew from 2006 - this is why we formed GT and grew it to where it is today. The critical thing that happened this week is that with our Pilot Plant finished in Silicon Valley world leaders in the industry run tests and documented in reports - which will be available soon - that our technology is the least expensive form of producing CO2.

This was a great relief since a few months ago, the incredulity about what GT is doing ran high. Our pilot Plant at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and the reports from industry leaders has changed Global Thermostat forever in the last two weeks. And - in my humble opinion, as the author of the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol - the only international agreement we have to combat climate change, which is trading US$200 Billion/year - this changes the world economy.

So here I am - at my desk on a foggy afternoon - trying to finish this blog before flying from New York to Silicon Valley for critical meetings with world leaders in climate policy from the Clinton Foundation, the largest chemical companies in the world, and oil producers from the US and Canada.

The next blog will report who and what happened - and I promise to record things faithfully- warts and all. It is the incredible shift from the low to the highs - that make innovation so appealing.

More soon.

GT in GreenTech Enterprise


"Could Waste Heat Be the Secret for Carbon Capture?" by Herman K. Trabish,, April 7, 2011.