Young Man’s Passion for Climate Change Brings Him Success, Art Skills Being Used to Make the World Aware of the Climate Crisis, Global Guidelines Proposed to Protect the Biodiversity & Ecosystem

by | Feb 10, 2021 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

A young man turns his twin passions of civil rights and fighting climate change into a successful green enterprise. Sir David Attenborough gets a boat (named after him, anyway). A trained scientist turns her passion into beautiful coral art. And scientists propose guidelines for saving non-native tree species from extinction. Shouldn’t we have done that already?



When Donnel Baird was in his 20s, he had twin passions, and he didn’t want to choose between them. “I vowed that I was going to try to combine my passion for Black civil rights with trying to do something about climate change,” he says.

And so, in 2012, Baird founded BlocPower. He’s attacking one of the seemingly intractable sources of America’s greenhouse emissions: old residential buildings. And he’s focusing on neighborhoods that don’t have a lot of money to invest. BlocPower is a Brooklyn-based energy technology startup, utilizing its proprietary software for analysis, leasing, project management, and monitoring of urban clean energy projects. The company promises to save its customers 20-40% on their energy bills each year.

BlocPower specifically targets mid-size buildings, like small apartment buildings, community centers, and churches, almost exclusively in low-income neighborhoods, like one recently renovated in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. Their projects typically involve a combination of heat pump technology and solar panel arrays.“Solar panels aren’t just for rich people or for white people. They’re for everybody,”

That said, the key to such deals, Baird says, isn’t so much the solar power. It’s the heat pumps. “The heat pump is like the silver bullet for dealing with climate change,” he says. The changes cut the carbon footprint of a typical building by 40% right away. Just as important, going all-electric opens the door to further reductions. If the electricity to power those heat pumps comes from solar, wind, hydro or nuclear, it’ll be a zero-carbon building.

In the past eight years, the company has completed energy projects in nearly 1,000 buildings.The company is backed by the world’s top investors, including Kapor Capital, one of Uber’s first investors, Andressen Horowitz, early investor in Facebook, Twitter, AirBnB and Lyft, the former Chairman of Google, and American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.

DEEPER DIVE: NPR,New Buildings Institute



Here on The Climate Daily, we covered the premiere of Sir David Attenborough’s Netflix documentary, Life on Our Planet. Today, we have more news on Attenborough’s next climate adventure – but it’s not what you would expect. 

The UK’s most advanced polar research ship, the RRS Sir David Attenborough prepares to leave port for a series of sea trials and its first mission to Antarctica. The new polar vessel houses research laboratories and equipment that allows crew to survey and sample the ocean. 

In an interview with the BBC, Director of the British Antarctic SURVEY said, “We’ve all heard about how the Arctic sea-ice is melting very fast, but the great ice sheets, such as Antarctica, are also melting in a warming world. The RRS Sir David Attenborough is going to allow us to get right up to the edge of the ice sheets, to deploy its new technologies, to really understand what’s going on.” The Climate Daily will be sure to keep you up-to-date on any new findings from the RRS Sir David Attenborough.




Just as the silent, seemingly motionless colonies of tiny invertebrates are capable of creating expansive, vibrant reefs, Courtney Mattison works quietly in her studio, building hundreds of small ceramic pieces that will each take their place one day in one of her huge, intricate art installations.

Mattison uses her art to connect people to the issues she cares about, and she cares about marine life. She’s a marine conservation biologist and coral reef ecologist by training. In college, Mattison spent a semester in Australia studying coral reef ecology classes focusing on the damaging effects of climate change, pollution, and overfishing. “I felt heartbroken,” I was exploring “this amazing new to me part of our planet” while also realizing quickly we could lose it if we don’t act urgently to change our lifestyles and policies to preserve.  

That was the moment she decided to use her art to “inspire people to care on an emotional level”. In 2011, she created her masterpiece: “Our Changing Seas,” a massive wall installation, which debuted in the lobby of the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington,D.C.

Mattison’s work displays healthy, vibrant corals in its center, but as the sculpture spirals out, the corals become dull and white. She said this represents whatclimate changeis doing to the reefs through ocean warming, which bleaches the bright colorful corals. Dying coral reefs impact a lot of ocean life. Twenty-five percent of all species in the ocean rely on coral reefs to survive. Mattison has since completed five more installations in the “Our Changing Seas” series. 

Two of her latest pieces are part of “Fragile Earth” which opened in June 2020 at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut. “Malum Geminos,”which translates from Latin to “Evil Twin,” And the smaller “Texture Study.” 

 “I believe art has an enormous power to inspire people to protect the environment and to understand it in ways that are more personal.” To see her work, surf on over to . (

DEEPER DIVE: ABC-Go,Brown Alumni Magazine



Onto some news abroad — Reported by (, a team of international scientists have proposed a series of global guidelines to protect biodiversity and ecosystems of non-native tree species. Published in the journal NEO BIYOTA, the team of scientists recommended eight guidelines focused on “maximizing the benefits of non-native trees, while minimizing their negative impacts.” 

The lead author of the research proposal said, “the application of the global guidelines and the achievement of their goals will help to conserve forest biodiversity, ensure sustainable forestry, AND  contribute to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations linked with forest biodiversity.” The scientists suggest the proposed series of guidelines are a first step toward global agreement on the precautions taken when planting non-native trees.