From the forest treetops to the soil microbes under our feet, all living things contain carbon. When they are destroyed—through clear-cutting, farming or forces like fire and drought—the carbon they hold is released as greenhouse gases, adding to global warming.
Heavy fossil fuel use has accelerated climate change, and today new challenges like more frequent wildfires and extreme weather are driving up emissions from wild and cultivated lands. Developing methods for sequestering carbon in plants and soil is critical to controlling Earth’s temperature—and devising sustainable ways to produce food, fiber and energy is essential for long-term human and planetary health.
The good news is that all around us—in the Central Valley fields where we raise crops, the diverse rangelands where cattle graze, and dense Sierra Nevada forests—lie potential solutions.
Now is the time to reimagine our relationship with California landscapes and to develop scalable models for how human and environmental systems can boost each other’s resilience.
By investing in agricultural and forest management projects that sequester carbon, minimize emissions, and use natural resources more efficiently, we can make dramatic changes that will help to sustain communities and ecosystems for generations to come.
To lock carbon in the land and keep forests healthy, One Climate’s approach transforms the threat of carbon accumulation into opportunities, reimagining excess forest fibers as the backbone of a circular economy that supports communities living near wildlands. These materials can be used to make sustainable energy and artisanal products while continuing to keep forest carbon out of the atmosphere. Incorporating Indigenous land management practices, too, can restore biodiversity and create economic opportunities while revitalizing cultural heritage.
Building sustainable communities, farms, and homes is a global aspiration to face changing climate, growing population, increasing demands and shrinking supplies of Earth’s natural resources. Renewable energy is key, but our ability to provide a steady supply of renewable energy is faced with a grand challenge. The challenge is in our ability to store energy when renewable resources are available to harvest for use when needed. Lithium-based solutions exist, but all the Lithium on Earth is not enough for scaling those solutions. Our group is storing energy in more abundant materials through latent heat, and we are exploring and testing solutions that are scalable and affordable. We are building a prototype for a complete energy storage kit that concentrates solar energy, heat our AlSi material, and store its energy in its latent heat at 577 degrees Celsius. This prototype can demonstrate how energy storage happens (by storing direct solar energy), and how that energy can be used, most importantly away from the sun, to heat a cup of water and light LED bulb or charge a cell phone. Our aim is to develop a complete educational module and build as many prototypes of it as the funds allow, then distribute for public schools in California, and hopefully beyond.
The Muir institute is currently collaborating across campus with the UC Davis Climate Adaptation Research Center to research how to make affordable homes out of materials that can withstand natural disasters such as wildfires. This Earthen Structures project is another aspect of the One Climate Initiative.
How You Can Contribute
Promote safer living and economic and cultural opportunities in wildfire-prone regions - SEEKING $5 MILLION
Help to develop models for combining agriculture and solar energy production - SEEKING $1 MILLION
Tahoe forest interventions
Launch our development of beneficial forest thinning methods by supporting a graduate researcher’s life cycle assessments - STARTING AT $250,000
Support undergraduate summer opportunities to participate in forest regeneration projects and activities with Indigenous communities - STARTING AT $100,000