Outside his apartment, Latimer snapped a photo of submerged cars in the brown water that had turned the city’s Memorial Drive into a river.
The experience signaled to Latimer that a decision he had made to leave a lucrative job as an oil-and-gas drilling engineer for a career in renewable energy was more urgent than he thought.
Today, Fervo Energy, a geothermal energy start-up Latimer co-founded two years later with Jack Norbeck while the two were getting advanced degrees at Stanford University, is poised to develop the first next-generation geothermal project-clean energy generated from the Earth’s interior.
Then Latimer and Norbeck were accepted into a two-year fellowship program created by Activate Global, a Berkeley, Calif.-based nonprofit that supports fledgling entrepreneurs with an annual stipend of up to $110,000, an additional $100,000 in research support at a host laboratory, and lessons in starting a business.
Philanthropists who want to find solutions to climate change are recognizing one avenue is to support scientists and engineers with promising ideas through the “Valley of death” periods that exist before an early-stage concept is sure enough to attract money from venture capitalists or other investors.
Activate gets funding from large foundations such as Schmidt Futures and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, in addition to support from government organizations, universities, and corporations.
Despite a 14% gain in global giving to climate-change mitigation in 2020 from a year earlier, charitable gifts to climate represent less than 2% of global giving and “Is not growing fast enough” to meet mounting climate crises, San Francisco-based ClimateWorks Foundation reported in October.