Blockhain environmentalism: SFL alum on the frontier of the carbon gold rush
It’s summer 2010, and Ross Kenyon is an intern in Washington DC. Being a part of the SFL network, he had the opportunity to be exposed to early adopters of cryptocurrency. Yet, it would be another eight years before he’d end up cofounder of Nori, a marketplace for carbon removal services that is powered by blockchain.
Ross had an early introduction to the ideas of liberty. He remembers reading about the War on Drugs with his dial-up modem at around 12 years old, and having his political awakening. After Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign, Ross became even more impassioned about the ideas of liberty and he got involved with SFL while at Arizona State University.
As a student leader, Ross appreciated Students For Liberty’s co-sponsored seminars with Liberty Fund and the Institute for Human Studies. “These seminars were a huge part of my intellectual development and helped me meet people in the network. I was not much of an activist, but an intellectual, and many of the people I met through these seminars inspired me. They weren’t ideologues. The ideas weren’t dogma. We could discuss shortcomings in the movement and engage the other side, always trying to fill in the gaps.”
After college, Ross has been charting out an exciting, nonlinear career path. He’s a documentary filmmaker, director and producer who has an impressive cinematic portfolio that includes work with Reason TV and Learn Liberty. He also briefly enrolled in the PhD program in Philosophy at Arizona State University, and dropped out when he realised it wasn’t nourishing his intellect in the way he hoped.
After working as a writer - a skill he had developed during his time with SFL - and creating digital content, Ross decided to us his communications expertise to pivot into the tech industry.
“I started to wonder if there were blockchain companies that needed people who are good at communication. I realised that while the tech industry works with ideas, a lot of people in tech don’t necessarily find it simple to convey those ideas.”
And that was how Ross found himself in the crypto world again, eight years after being introduced to the idea. He is now a cofounder at Nori, is a marketplace for carbon removal services aimed at reversing climate change. “For us at Nori, the fundamental question was how do we align self-interest with pro-social ends?”
At Nori, the answer is to envision carbon as a resource, and create something like a gold rush where people get paid to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it.
“People need to make money off reversing climate change,” Ross explains, “because we’ve achieved just about all we can with altruism. Environmentalism always feels punitive, for example, taxes and so, very few people are inspired by that. Monetizing ecosystem services this way reduces a lot of the political conflict and you get people who don’t care at all about the environment still making a difference for climate change.”
Although it is still a new platform that will officially launch later this year, Nori already has over 100,000 followers on Facebook, showing that there is a real interest in more free market based environmental ideas. Ross also co-hosts Nori’s podcast, Reversing Climate Change, which brings together experts in different fields to discuss - in a fun, non-wonky way - how the private market can help to reduce carbon emissions.
Currently, Ross is on Students For Liberty’s alumni board. When asked why he continues to support SFL long after college, he replies, “I support SFL primarily because it is intellectually vibrant. SFL helped prepare me for life after college, particularly how to deal with big ideas in the private sector, faced with people who might not understand why the idea makes sense. I am grateful that SFL helped me learn how to think of something new, something that makes sense philosophically and economically, and implement it.”