In Sky We Trust

In Sky We Trust
Photo by NEOM / Unsplash

When you look up, what do you see? Stars? Blue skies? Jet contrails?

Or dollar signs?

This week I was struggling to write about climate change being the ultimate tragedy of the commons. Perhaps when my gears stop grinding that subject will make an appearance here in the future.

That writerly struggle did reveal one of the most rewarding things about writing; it forces you to learn things you otherwise wouldn't. What I discovered in my research for this week's article was a sub-idea embedded within my larger story thesis about the tragedy of the commons: The Sky Trust.

Some of you likely know I'm a lover of sunrises and a card-carrying member of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As an Idaho resident with roots in the mountain towns of Central Idaho, I'm especially proud of the Central Idaho Dark Sky Preserve, our country's first gold-tier night sky reserve. So the idea of a Sky Trust was an exciting new find for me.

Put forth by entrepreneurial environmentalist Peter Barnes, the Sky Trust has a pretty simple construct: that the sky is owned by all of us and as such, is a resource whose use should be regulated and taxed with the proceeds being equally distributed as a dividend to all citizens. Companies would be charged for the carbon emissions they emit, and the shareholders in the sky - you and me, sister - would share equally in the revenues generated.

It would be an actual legal trust with a mission to:

  • "preserve the current mix of gases in the sky
  • receive market prices for use of the sky as a dump
  • distribute income among beneficiaries equally"

Conceptually, this would help to stabilize climate by regulating what's put into the atmosphere - our sky - by charging for it. In some ways, it's similar to the cap-and-trade structure of the Kyoto Protocol, but is distinguished through its revenue-sharing benefit - a dividend for the public that owns the skies.

Barnes' idea has been around for awhile - since publication of his book Who Owns the Sky in 2001 - and you can imagine it hasn't taken hold for all the challenges it faces. Among criticisms of the proposal is that it is a national legislation for the United States, when to have a practical impact on climate change it would need to be adopted by all countries.

But can you also imagine this: Looking up at the sky with more than a sense of wonder and awe in its ever-changing majesty, but also with a real sense of ownership?

When you're looking up at the night skies or watching a big cumulus cloud lollygag its way across a Windex-blue sky, ponder that, will you?

Godspeed, friends.


💬 Quote of the Week

“All the goodness and the heroisms will rise up again, then be cut down again and rise up. It isn’t that the evil thing wins — it never will — but that it doesn’t die.” John Steinbeck

💥 Quick Hits

• Me AI. Me Thirsty - Turns out that artificial intelligence is thirsty, very thirsty. It likes a tall drink of water. 💧

• Could this be Big Oil's Big Tobacco moment? - The State of California is using a familiar playbook in its climate-change lawsuit against oil companies.

🛠️ Cool Tools

Native Land Digital - A great resource for learn about the indigenous peoples that are native to your neck of the woods.

🤔 Trivia Time

In honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day (yesterday): What percentage of the planet's biodiversity is under the stewardship of indigenous people?

  • 20%
  • 40%
  • 70%
  • 80%

Today's trivia answer can be found at the bottom of this newsletter.‌‌‌‌

‌Find the Most Meaningful Work of Your Career

Our partner One Work has you covered with meaningful work that goes beyond a paycheck, a cubicle, or a weekly team Zoom call. This week we're going back to school with a "Maximizing every teacher's impact" edition, where you'll find purposeful jobs like those below, along with many more at the One Work website.

ELLO - An edtech startup using AI to ensure every child that needs personalized reading instruction gets it. If you want to build something with a great team that makes a difference in a child's life, here's your calling. (Extra points for cool logo, too). Senior Creative Growth Hacker, New York, NY.

POSSIBLE - Possible helps people build better financial health by making credit accessible and affordable for those with no or poor credit history. Operations Associate, Seattle, WA.

thinkPARALLAX - Sharpen your pencil at a Certified B Corp that's deep and steeped in the sustainability consulting and communications agency space. Senior Copywriter and Strategist, REMOTE.

Check out One Work's full jobs board of purposeful jobs with mission-driven companies and organizations.‌‌‌‌‌

Trivia Answer‌

Indigenous people oversee management of half the world's land within which they are protecting 80% of the planet's biodiversity.

Have an interesting social impact tool, idea, or trivia question you'd like to share? Reply to this newsletter and let me know - I'd love to hear about it. You can also hit me up at

Also - please don't hesitate to forward this to a friend you think would benefit from it - thank you!

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