The climate change problem, to put it mildly, is bad. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “The last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than three million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.”
NASA expects that these temperature changes will cause stronger hurricanes and extreme weather, widespread droughts and heatwaves, rising sea levels, and an ice-free Arctic during the summer—all within this century.
Preventing, or at least mitigating, these climate changes is a major focal point for startups and scientists alike. While some are focused on curbing our carbon output with clean energy, others have started asking a different question: What if we simply removed carbon from the atmosphere?
Startups focused on carbon removal, otherwise known as carbon sequestration, are working on technologies that range from biology to geology:
Swiss startup ClimeWorks uses something called “Direct Air Capture” to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with what is, essentially, a large air filter that bonds to carbon dioxide.
Newlight and Carbicrete manufacture building materials—bioplastics and cement-free concrete, respectively—that are carbon negative, meaning the process to manufacture them removes carbon from the atmosphere.
Large-scale environmental initiatives are also underway. Project Vesta aims to cover shelf seas with volcanic rock, the weathering of which will, in theory, remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Many other bold projects are also being investigated. Researchers are interested in using phytoplankton and algae to absorb carbon dioxide, with some going so far as to suggest flooding portions of our deserts so there can be more bodies of water to dedicate to these efforts.
The idea of carbon removal has fascinated investors. Tech elites, like Bill Gates, are investing in the space, and Y Combinator recently published a “Request for Startups” that are working on carbon removal technologies.
Of course, most of these projects are businesses—and businesses need to make money. The proposed or in-action carbon removal technologies are expensive, and there are questions about whether they can ever be profitable without government assistance.
Still, these startups are engineering entirely new technologies to combat a dire threat against Earth. Even if some of the technology is still theoretical and the business math isn’t entirely proven out, these are exactly the kind of bold, potentially world-changing initiatives that make startups exciting.
32 fast-growing startups in San Francisco
The Bay Area is the center of the startup universe.
With higher salaries than most tech hubs, the greatest concentration of startups in the country, and the presence of most leading tech companies, San Francisco is one of the best places to build a career in tech.
While job-seekers shouldn't feel limited to only looking in The Bay Area, it's worth considering. To help your hunt, we pulled together a list of the fastest-growing startups in San Francisco that are hiring now.
Our methodology is simple: We analyzed AngelList data to find which companies have added the most employees in 2019. From there, we selected the top startups that currently have open jobs and removed any company that didn't include the salaries/equity it's willing to offer.