Climate Change Artist, Hula, Kenya’s International Tree Foundation, Pahiki Eco-Caskets, Dandelion Geothermal Energy Co.

by | Jan 18, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Meet climate change artist, Hula, plus Kenya’s International Tree Foundation celebrates a century of service. Pahiki Eco-Caskets, and Dandelion Geothermal Energy Co.



Earlier this month we talked about Aquamation, a green alternative to burial. But what if your faith or personal belief system just demands a whole-body burial? Well there is another, greener way.

Courtney Gusick, is a native Hawaiian with deep ties to her native roots and to her father. He was very earth conscious. When he died, Gusick became determined to honor him, and her Hawaiian ancestry. That inspired her to create Pahiki Eco-Caskets in Waimanalo in 2017.

Gusick named her company  Pahiki because it’s Hawaiian for, “To pass quietly, go lightly, touch gently.”

Right now, the majority of caskets are manufactured with metal, paint, silicone, synthetic polyester fabric, and other non-biodegradable materials. The Green Burial Council estimates that each year traditional casket burials put “4.3 million gallons of formaldehyde and other embalming fluids, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 17,000 tons of copper and bronze, and 64,500 tons of steel into the ground.”

Using eco-friendly burial options removes a heavy environmental burden compared to current burial practices. Pāhiki Caskets contain none of “the toxic fixins’.” They contain reclaimed local woods like albizia, monkeypod, mango, avocado, and Norfolk pine.

Why do Pahiki Caskets matter to us? Because what we bury seeps into aquifers, soils and root systems. What seeps into the ground degrades the soil, which degrades the environment. And degraded local environments contribute to climate change.

Gusick says those who bury their loved ones in Pahiki eco-casket can say,  “I did right by the earth.”

DEEPER DIVE: Flux, Honolulu Civil Beat, Pahiki Caskets, The Huffington Post



Sean Yoro’s passion for surfing and graffiti has traveled with him a lot. Yoro grew up in idyllic Oahu, Hawai’i. He took his passion for surfing and graffiti and went all the way to Brooklyn, NY. That’s where he honed his unique artistic style of painting murals on sea walls that appear to emerge from the ocean. Seawalls are vertical or near vertical shore-parallel structures designed to prevent upland erosion and storm surge flooding.  

Changing venues again, Yoro, who now goes by Hula professionally, moved to LA.  That’s when, he says, by accident, “my art and environmental passions” combined. Using natural and eco-friendly materials, he began painting murals on shipwrecks, abandoned docks, and even an iceberg. 

In 2018, Hula returned to Hawaii and saw the devastating effects of coral bleaching firsthand. It affected him so much he launched his Deep Seads project a year later. According to Hula, “Deep Seads Series explores the physical limits of both art and artist in hopes of raising awareness for the fight to save Earth’s coral reefs.”

Hula begins by creating artificial reefs, which help jump start marine growth, and transforms the concrete and metal structures into murals by free diving to the ocean floor.  Within days, marine growth starts to transform the murals. Hula’s art is meant to be transient, to disappear shortly after it is created.

Why does Hula matter to us? Art reaches the heart. If artists like Hula continue to reach our hearts, they’ll increase the likelihood of spurring us into action.

Hula is hoping that his artwork at least starts a conversation because of the “millions of people in need of our help who are already being affected from the rising sea levels of climate change.”




The International Tree Foundation (ITF), founded in 1922, is an organization engaging in participatory projects that tackle deforestation through community forestry in Africa and the UK. In 2020 alone, ITF reports it planted almost 806-thousand trees with 41 partners in nine African countries and the UK.

During the COP26 Climate Conference, ITF formed a new partnership with Glasgow Clyde College. In honor of the CPO26 climate goals, the college and ITF pledge the planting of trees and hedges over the next three years on the college grounds.

To commemorate this sustainable initiative, they planted a beech tree, which is now considered to be native to Scotland. Native trees, being well suited to a local climate, are also more resistant to pest problems. Giving the forest a longer time to develop.

Why does it matter to us? An ironic instance of reverser colonialism. Once colonized, Kenya, through its ITF is teaching former colonizer Britain how to save the climate. And for great effect. After all, one acre of trees absorbs the amount of CO2 equal to driving a car 26,000 miles. 

“Increasing biodiversity and giving opportunities for education and engagement with environmental issues” is why partnerships like these are so important, said James Whitehead, CEO of International Tree Foundation.

DEEPER DIVE:  The National, Global Landscapes Forum, International Tree Foundation   



Talk about a totally solarpunk name for an energy company—Dandelion Energy! Why “Dandelion”? No idea, but I love it! Dandelion, headquartered in New York,  focuses on geothermal energy.  

It was founded by Kathy Hannun and Michael Sachse, to solve the problem of reducing how much fossil fuel energy is used to power residential homes.  Northeastern homeowners traditionally burn propane, fuel oil, or natural gas in their boilers for heat. By switching to geothermal, they save money on heating and cooling – and switch to an emissions-free system.

Geothermal reduces home greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 80% compared to old-fashioned systems by removing the need to burn fossil fuels in the home and providing much more efficient air-conditioning.  Instead of exchanging heat with the air, geothermal exchanges with the stable 50°F of the ground. It’s much easier to take and put heat from and into the ground, which translates into better reliability and lower cost because of the efficiency.   

Before Dandelion, there had been little thought put into a residential geothermal product in its Northeast United States market. Most people associate Geothermal traditionally with volcanic or moderately temperate regions, not the cold northeast. Dandelion set out to prove to its customers how awesome the stepchild of alternative energy really is.

According to online newspaper, Tech Crunch,  “Through a combination of technology, data, and operations, Dandelion is making geothermal heating and cooling cost-effective for the residential market.”

Why does Dandelion matter to us? As of August 2021, Dandelion’s Customers Surpass 170,000 Tons of Carbon Pollution Avoided. That’s like taking almost 34,000 cars off the road or sequestering carbon in over 204-thousand acres of trees.

Michael Sachse, CEO of Dandelion Energy, said, “We’re incredibly proud of the impact we’re having for the world. Technology and policy innovation have come together to allow homeowners to utilize clean energy inside the home. We’re excited to continue our work to help people increase the comfort and health of their homes while limiting harmful emissions.”

DEEPER DIVE: Dandelion Energy, PR, TechCrunch