Throughout history, there have been a handful of ingenious innovations that have changed how our global society functions and connects with one another. One such upcoming innovation is being led by 2019 Millennium Fellow Kami Krista from Harvard University. Her project, Earendil, works on creating a central data management hub for the climate change crisis. According to Kami, the central problem our society faces in managing this crisis is scattered, uncoordinated climate initiatives along with a lack of solid data recommendations in the policy realm. Her idea is to create a decision support system that actively integrates data from current climate initiatives which then feeds back into the system to create real-time feedback and key performance indicators for rapid decisions to be made in the climate crisis management realm.
Earendil is in an early stage right now and therefore, Kami is considering taking a semester off from university to work on her initiative. She says that this isn’t a normal startup because it isn’t being done for money. The idea is to go in stages and to use philanthropic venture capital because it has less stringent conditions tied to it which lends more focus on the impact. In order to do this, Kami will need to create a functioning prototype of her data management hub which can attract professionals and experts in fields such as data modelling and management.
Although she recently started working on Earendil, her love of the climate and her initial work on climate change began at age 8 when she wrote a letter to the President of Brasil demanding action and later went on to explore sustainable transportation. From age 8-16 she kept working on climate change initiatives but she never felt like it was enough and so she moved away from it. However, at 19 she rekindled her infatuation with the climate crisis with the idea of Earendil.
“I felt like I kept hitting a wall and I hadn’t identified my personal key issue to bring landslide change so for a few years from 16 to 18, I sort of moved away from focusing on climate change and worked on HIV therapies and so on. Then I came back to it, and I finally felt like I had identified the (main) problem and a potential solution to it. I felt like it was going to radically alter the way we approach this crisis.”
In order to further her project, Kami joined the Millennium Fellowship with the hope of networking with the right people. Although she attends one of America’s elite universities, Kami thinks it is hard to meet the right people at the right time. Another benefit of joining the Fellowship was that it provided structure to her project and allowed her to focus on her progress goals in regard to the timelines given by the Fellowship.
“It is sometimes a bit of a serendipitous game of life to hope that you meet the right people. But with the Fellowship, I have a cohort of people I can get to know in the space of social impact. Also, the Fellowship giving me some type of structure is very helpful because it helps me to prioritise the work for the project and it provides legitimacy to my work. I’ve met people who might be able to boost this to the next level.”
To Kami, this is the most pressing issue of the current and future generations and it is the issue that she wants to dedicate her life to. Further, she thinks that it is an initiative that everyone needs to contribute to in some small way because it affects every other crisis in the world. According to Kami, if we don’t solve climate change now then every other problem in the world will simply be amplified and humans will have to deal with dangerous and unpredictable new problems.
“It comes down to the fundamental realisation that this generation and the coming generations, we have the better part of our lives to live. If we deny this crisis and deny taking action, we ultimately say no to our lives. I understand that there are many different crises in the world but if we don’t solve this one, progress in every other area is irrelevant. If we don’t solve this then the other issues will be amplified so much by this (climate) crisis. We need every single individual because climate change knows no borders and global inaction is a problem. This is not a problem where you can hope that someone else will solve it for you.”