Saturday, June 10, 2023

Looking for a Climate Career? They Might Have the Answer.

Newly minted Stanford business school grads can count on making around $175,000 a year when they graduate. Usually, that means a job in private equity, consulting or Big Tech.

But what if you want to make a ton of money and also help reduce a gigaton of planet-scorching greenhouse gas emissions?

That’s where The Gigaton comes in, brainchild of three Stanford business school students: Joseff Kolman, 28; Georgia Kossoff, 27; and Stella Liu, 30.

They are the latest profile in our monthly series Someone to Know. (OK, a trio to know, in this case.) In February we introduced you to a teenage private jet detective, and, in March, a Hollywood climate adviser.

Kolman, Kossoff and Liu are the founders of The Gigaton, a newsletter to help other business school students figure out which companies are working on what kinds of climate fixes, and where they might fit in.

“Our vision is that this newsletter inspires you all to use the 80,000+ hours in your career to make a difference to help the world reverse climate change,” Liu wrote in the inaugural issue of The Gigaton.

Each issue explores one sector and lays out the variety of companies working in that sector, from cooling technologies (might appeal if you’re “stimulated by ‘unsexy’ problems,” they wrote) to direct air capture (“if you believe that we can engineer our way out of the worst impacts of climate change”) to wastewater (for “biochem nerds” and “finance nerds” alike).

The message: There are all kinds of climate gigs. You do you.

“It’s probably a Wikipedia for climate newbies,” Kossoff said when we all met on a video call. “It’s also a career guide.”

“It’s really meant to help those who are just starting their climate journey,” Kolman added.

They are appealing to a niche market: mainly business students and venture capitalists.

Each issue of the newsletter is written by M.B.A. students from elite schools: Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Columbia and the University of California, Berkeley.Kolman, Kossoff and Liu receive pitches. They vet the material with outside experts. They also write. They’re keen to help their readers distinguish between what actually makes a difference in bringing down emissions and what counts as greenwashing.

How did they get drawn into this project?

Liu grew up in Southern California. Daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, she saw on trips to China and Taiwan how farmland turned to skyscraper land. She became intrigued by land use changes, and then, gradually, by the links between climate change and sustainable food systems. She majored in international relations at the University of California, Irvine.

Kolman, who grew up in Savannah, Ga., majored in physics and political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I spent my time in undergrad searching for a career where I could use my analytical skills to improve society,” he told me. A trip to South Africa, which has dealt with successive droughts exacerbated by climate change, brought home “the impacts of water insecurity.”

He considered working in public policy but those plans changed after the 2016 election. He worked for a consulting firm that helped its clients buy solar and wind energy for their operations. Then, business school.

Kossoff, who calls herself the “most recent climate convert,” grew up mostly in southwest Florida and studied business and chemistry at Emory University. There was no “Aha!” moment for her. “It was more of a slow realization that something was very, very wrong as I saw the places I loved most from my childhood changing,” she said.

All three graduate this June but intend to keep The Gigaton going.

Kossoff will return to work at Bain, the consulting firm where she worked before and which sponsored her graduate studies at Stanford. Kolman and Liu are looking for gigs in climate investing.

While theirs is aimed at fellow M.B.A. students, they say, other sites target a broader range of skills, including job boards by Breakthrough Ventures and the Climate Pledge Fund, both venture firms that list openings at the companies they invest in, as well as a platform simply called Climate Change Jobs.

“We believe The Gigaton is just one of many resources needed to make climate roles accessible to all audiences,” they wrote in an email.

We’re asking people who work in climate-related jobs: How did you find your position and how has your experience on the job been?

On the brink of famine: The Horn of Africa has been hit by a punishing drought. A new study found that climate change has made such conditions at least 100 times as likely.

Carbon capture: Technology to collect and store carbon dioxide emissions has struggled to gain traction. Now, stricter rules for power plants could make it more attractive.

Phasing out gas stoves: New York may soon become the first state in the United States to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings.

Heat pumps: The German government, concerned about staying competitive in energy technology, said it would review the sale of a heat-pump maker to an American company.

A seismic shift in Australia: Experts are warning that the country needs a clearer strategy to manage its exit from coal-fired power.

Binoculars and bucket-list birds: Visitors can spot hundreds of species of birds in the rainforests of Ecuador. Seeing bears is a bonus.

Researchers are attaching computers to the brains of goldfish to examine how they navigate their world, and to better understand how animals cope with changes in their environments. According to the scientists who designed the experiment, doing surgery on fish on dry land wasn’t easy.

Thanks for being a subscriber. We’ll be back on Tuesday.

Jonathan Wolfe, Manuela Andreoni, Claire O’Neill, Chris Plourde and Douglas Alteen contributed to Climate Forward. Read past editions of the newsletter here.

If you’re enjoying what you’re reading, please consider recommending it to others. They can sign up here. Browse all of our subscriber-only newsletters here.

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