Dear friends and colleagues,
We write with exciting news: we’re doing a … thing around geobiology and carbon sequestration! For now we’re calling it the Carbon Removal and Geobiology Initiative (CRAGI.org).
Here’s our vision:
Who we are: CRAGI will be a community of scientists with expertise and shared interests in the geologic and biologic ramifications of carbon sequestration, in all its proposed forms. It is not-for-profit, non-incorporated, and not (yet) very organized. Our target members are active research scientists with backgrounds in microbiology, environmental chemistry, geochemistry, oceanography, and of course geobiology. Members are primarily, though not necessarily all, academic researchers.
What’s the point?
The carbon dioxide removal (CDR) industry is developing fast in response to the intensifying urgency of climate change, and the enormous scale of interventions being proposed will impact the Earth system in myriad ways. As practicing geobiologists, we have scientific skills and knowledge that are potentially useful to this subject. In fact, we believe geobiology may be uniquely suited to studying all of the various ramifications of CDR. Many of us are eager to help, yet it has historically been difficult to see how we can directly contribute to the greater effort. With this in mind CRAGI has four primary goals:
Provide an information conduit to our members about what is going on in the CDR industry and regulatory space;
Act as a clearinghouse to connect CDR companies and groups with research scientists; e.g., companies looking for scientific advisors, or scientists looking for samples;
Support the training and employment of scientists with expertise in the geobiological ramifications of CDR;
Connect policymakers, journalists, teachers, and others with access to vetted information and bona fide experts.
The key differentiating factors for our initiative are i) its focus on Earth system impacts of various CDR techniques and rigorous approaches to monitoring them (as opposed to removal method engineering), and ii) its primarily academic membership.
What we will do: This remains to be decided! Possibilities include publishing a monthly newsletter; hosting academic/industry roundtable or networking events; hosting dedicated sessions at scientific meetings; facilitating a web-based jobs board for CDR science; curating an (online) library of papers, recorded lectures, and teaching slides; administering calls for research proposals by the CDR industry; organizing blue-ribbon panels to recommend and write Best Practices documents for verification or monitoring; and so much more.
We would like the direction of this group to be decided by its members, not just us. So we are soliciting 5-10 volunteers to make up an initial Steering Committee. This group will meet virtually, solicit feedback from peers, and decide what we want to focus on doing first, in addition to addressing some more mundane issues like which technology we want to inhabit (Web, email, Slack, social media, etc.). If you are interested in serving, please send a brief email to email@example.com. If we have >10 interested responses, we will strive to pick a diverse and representative cross-section.
What we won’t do: CRAGI is not intended to develop carbon capture or sequestration technologies, or to build companies. Since our goal is to become an independent, trusted scientific group we think that lobbying, editorializing, or endorsing particular policies or technologies is best avoided, at least at first. (There are a LOT of people and groups with strong opinions and horses in this race. We want to be different.) We are not trying to make money on this, although our members are welcome to engage in commercial activities (consulting, startups, etc). If we eventually make it to the point of fundraising to support activities, we would intend to become a not-for-profit group.
Who can join: CRAGI is open to any active scientific researchers who self-identify as being in – or at least interested in – the field of geobiology. (What is geobiology? You decide. We’re happy to make this a big tent.) Students, postdocs, faculty, staff scientists, all welcome, from any country. Most of our members will be academic researchers, but those in government labs, industry, not-for-profit groups, and others are welcome. If you would like to join our initiative, please fill out the Membership Application Form on our new website at cragi.org! (If you already responded to the form that Morgan shared at the Geobiology GRC in November then we have your info, no need to sign up again.) Last but not least, please feel free to share this letter with your friends and colleagues whom we might not have reached with our initial blast.
Too long! Give me the summary: We are organizing a group of Geobiology scientists interested in carbon sequestration. Specific activities are tbd. If you are vaguely interested, visit cragi.org and join our mailing list. Expect just a couple emails per month from us, at most. If you are jazzed about it, let us know you’d like to serve on the steering committee.
Morgan Raven, UCSB
Alex Sessions, Caltech
Will Berelson, USC