The Last Hurrah

My internship at the Center for Carbon Removal came to a close last Friday. It all happened rather quickly and school is just around corner!


The last two weeks proved to be busier than usual, but in the best way possible. I finished up my carbon mineralization project, which turned out well. I’m really interested to see how the field develops in the future- while there are some large scale carbon mineralization initiatives on the ground today, the next few years are arguably very crucial for the initiatives on the ground to either snowball or fizzle out. There’s a program developed by De Beers that’s attempting to capture and store carbon using kimberlite from diamond mine tailings. If that’s successful, it might be a catalyst for similar projects. But if it is abandoned, then it could have just the opposite effect. Beyond lab scale research, there are very few larger-scale initiatives in carbon mineralization today, which is partially why the projects currently in motion are so important.


My last week at the office coincided with the company’s “homeweek.” Basically, homeweek is a time for all of the employees that work remotely throughout the country to come together in one location (Oakland) and refine the company’s projects and strategies. Since the Center is a younger organization with a few people that work in the middle of the U.S., it’s important to have everyone in one place once a month so that the company can incrementally grow and further its mission in a coordinated manner.


During homeweek, our company visited two different ranches that practice carbon sequestration techniques on their soils. It was great to leave the office and really explore the field (literally). I saw some carbon farmed grass and even ate a hamburger made with carbon farmed beef!


Essentially, soil carbon sequestration involves a holistic rangeland management system, usually with low or no till practices, rotational grazing of livestock, and other techniques. These methods help plants to grow heartier roots and soils to develop better compositions/structures for retaining carbon. While the ranches were both relatively small scale carbon farming initiatives, they did give the Center’s team a lot of good points and problems to mull over as the team begins to develop a method for incentivizing a wider adoption of carbon farming practices.


Throughout homeweek, I also heard many stories about various life and career experiences from the team. One of our team members has ample experience negotiating at the United Nations to further carbon sequestration through forest preservation initiatives worldwide. It was crazy to hear him talk about drafting legislation for the UNFCCC. There’s a surprising amount of conniving drama and strangely intense attention to grammar when drafting resolutions. Honestly, the ruthlessness and fatigue of UN negotiating sounds like a lot like my own experience doing travel debating for Model UN in college, except real UN negotiating is more intense and the stakes are obviously a lot higher.


In addition to working, the Center also held two company celebrations during homeweek. One was an open invitation event where various people from Berkeley and those involved in the carbon removal field were invited to celebrate the Center’s progress thus far. There was pizza, cake, and many amazing individuals! Then there was a staff-only celebration at the end of homeweek, where we ate an extremely fancy meal and (again) had some cake.


Overall, it was a an incredibly rewarding experience to intern through Cal Energy Corps this summer. I not only gained a significant amount of knowledge, but my time at the Center for Carbon Removal really redefined the way that I think about climate change and how climate change issues can be tackled today to ensure a better future. I'm excited to see what comes next, and ready to do my part to build a healthy climate as I move forward!


Thanks for reading!