Zeus: The coming battle with the climate gods

How mortal innovators and investors will save the planet.

(About the author: David Callaway is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Callaway Climate Insights. He is a former president of the World Editors Forum and editor of USA Today and MarketWatch.)

SAN FRANCISCO (Callaway Climate Insights) — The name of this column is Zeus. The king of the Greek gods was also the god of weather, known for his lightning bolts and as the sender of rain and winds. 

The ancients believed the gods controlled their fate. If only it was that easy. We are masters of our fate and that is how we got to the edge of this dangerous precipice in the earth’s history — the sixth great extinction. 

Climate change, not a god, is the culprit. Blame who you will, but we are past that. We are now in adapt-and-survive mode, with years of inter-government summits showing little, if any, progress. Australia burns and vast parts of India and Africa are becoming uninhabitable.

The coronavirus pandemic now occupying all our minds and time will burn itself out soon. The climate threat, while less immediate to our physical well being, is of a far greater danger to how and where we live. 

Against this backdrop, an ambitious group of innovators, entrepreneurs, eccentrics, and motivators are divining new strategies, concepts and projects to help us adapt. For the first time, Wall Street is paying attention, and with that will come funding, opportunity.

“Climate risk is investment risk,” wrote Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, in his recent annual letter to shareholders. “In the near future, and sooner than most anticipate, there will be a significant reallocation of capital.” 

This column and Callaway Climate Insights will catalog that reallocation. Who will invest? Who will they invest in? Winners and losers in the greatest, most important joint effort the world has known. 

I’ve spent my career writing, editing and building financial news organizations. And digital news businesses. Reporting for a young Bloomberg News from Europe. Editing and writing at CBS MarketWatch. Turning USA Today from a hotel newspaper into a digital news leader. And, as CEO, turning TheStreet Inc. into a viable, buyable company again, and helping sell its assets and make shareholders money.

This is not about politics. Politics are local. This is about a global problem that needs a global solution. Corporate executives need to know the top stories in climate change — globally — on a daily basis. Investors need data to assess new opportunities, in ESG, energy, infrastructure, water, and beyond. 

Passionate young students need a place to read about, and find ways they can get involved. Journalism needs a new rallying cry for a new generation of storytellers. 

Callaway Climate Insights journalists will interview leaders, report from around the world, unveil new investment strategies, and bring the full weight of a lifetime of journalism to bear on telling the stories of this new era. CCI will search out fraud and green-shading, as they call it, in the growing climate industry. We will measure progress, from the tinderbox of California to the rising shores of Sri Lanka, on how well we innovate to adapt. 

To make it more personal, I’ve relocated back to the Bay Area — front line of climate change in the U.S., after eight years in Washington D.C. and New York City. Much of the innovation and investing done to help us adapt to environmental concerns is taking place here. Laurene Powell Jobs, for one, is dedicating her fortune to the climate message.

Subscribers to Callaway Climate Insights will receive regular Zeus columns, plus profiles of innovators, data on investment performance, historical pieces on climate history and mankind’s ability and inability to adapt to it. And a selection of my choices each week on the best climate change journalism out there in this nascent industry. 

The news and information will live on this website, which will be available free for some time. Most important, we want to hear from you, the executives and investors who are making this happen. We serve to bring passionate minds together to solve the largest problem of our lifetimes. 

In a way, the climate deniers have a point. Climate is the ultimate reflecting board for our natural human fear of the future and all it holds. It’s also the ultimate challenge, and the ultimate opportunity for humanity’s win-at-all-costs nature.

Zeus would be pleased.

Photo: NOAA photo library.