According to the dictionary, a cul-de-sac is:

  1. a blind diverticulum or pouch.
  2. a street or passage closed at one end.
  3. blind alley.

In other words a no-way-out. And this is precisely what Compensate, the company I helped to build and grow, had to face lately.

Our mission was clear and ambitious: push for a systemic change in the way people and companies take responsibility for the climate. Make everyone acquainted with the impact of our actions. Price them, beyond the value of the given service or product. And finally, ensure that said money goes into cleaning the mess we leave behind with the maximum impact possible. No greenwashing. Really doing it properly, and even going beyond, knowing that we have to clean two centuries of craze and running forward.

Dust Bowl painting by Alexandre Hogue

Alexandre Hogue, Dust Bowl, 1933, oil on canvas, 24 x 32 5/8 in. (61 x 82.8 cm) , Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of International Business Machines Corporation, 1969.123

But we could not continue. I collected my thoughts and posted them elsewhere, the transcript below:

What a ride. 🎢

For the past six months at Compensate we have been working relentlessly with the goal to secure funding and continue our mission to provide high quality carbon compensation to both consumers and businesses alike. It was just few weeks ago that Compensate’s customers reached 5M€ invested into carbon projects, an equivalent 306 128 tonnes of CO2 captured from the atmosphere. 📈

Unfortunately, we could not reach our goal of expanding our operations, for this reason, we have decided to “drastically scale back operations”, which is business speak for “we are all unemployed now”. This was a hard call to make, but a needed one, and in my humble opinion, the most dignified one for the legacy of Compensate, a forerunner in high quality carbon compensation services in Finland, and arguably in the whole world. 🌍

From this experience I take with me many learnings, both professional and technical, but above all and by far, it is the interactions with the team the ones I will cherish for life. That feeling of finding like-minded people working for the common good. Joining and expanding a team that made me rethink what work is supposed feel like, all while contributing to deliver world-class services and customer experience, and all towards making this a livable planet for all living things. 🌿

So what now? 🤔

After more than 10 years building software for different industries, I would really love to have a break, but the truth is, I cannot afford it. The global atmospheric CO2 readings from NOAA: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration NOAA: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration say we are at 418 ppm, and in an upwards trend. With a “safe” limit of 350 ppm to keep global warming below 1°C, there simply is no slack. Climate change surely is the most important problem worth solving of our lifetime, but it is not the only one worth solving. This is why I feel I cannot afford to take a longer break. 📚

My main goal is to continue working in the sustainability industry, but Compensate’s bar for sustainable, science-based and credible solutions was left very high. If you are in the know of a firm that needs a software engineer to make this a better place to live either in sustainability or other fields, please get in touch 😊

I am left full of joy and gratitude for having been part of Compensate since (almost) the beginning, a truly remarkable group of people. Thank you for the opportunity to grow and for believing in me Annikki Laine and Antero Vartia; thanks to Atte Kojo for all the learnings during and after your tenure at Compensate. I am also grateful for having had the chance to work and have fun while working with my mates Ben Marsden, Joe Smallwood, Lennart Binscheck and Jonas Aaltio; and to Katri Kallio-Koski for the excelsior work you put forward, always with a smile. Grateful to Susanna Laanikari for enabling me to grow personally and professionally. Last but not least, thank you to all the team at Compensate that made magic happen. 🙏

Compensate’s blog post about scaling down operations.

HS Visio article with insights from Antero and Niklas (in Finnish)

Global Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide from the Global Monitoring Laboratory, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Here I link some of the profiles of the world class team mates I had the pleasure to work with.

It is a sad situation, and we saw it coming. Like deer in the headlights, we stared at the event, defenseless and let it hit us and wash us ashore.

Now we need to get out of this cul-de-sac.

EDIT Dec 17, 2023: Updated <figure> elements to include alt attribute.

Typed on Jun 16, 2023