Updated at 5:26 p.m. on April 2, 2021.
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The think tank Carbon180 is, as far as I know, the only American nonprofit dedicated to studying the removal of carbon-dioxide pollution from the atmosphere. It is not a very large organization. When such things are possible, its 15 employees are headquartered in a renovated concert hall turned co-working space in Washington, D.C., a building notable as the site of the first Beatles concert in the United States.
Beyond this coincidence, Carbon180 has “no preexisting relationships with famous people,” Noah Deich, its president and co-founder, told me last week.
Yet famous people have recently started to cultivate relationships with Carbon180. In the past few weeks, a growing list of celebrities have named Carbon180 as a beneficiary of their auction of “nonfungible tokens,” or NFTs, despite neither Deich nor the group seeking out their backing.
To give some sense of the scale: The experimental-pop musician Grimes, who has pledged a portion of her NFT sales to Carbon180, sold $6 million worth of digital-art NFTs last month—which is more than double Carbon180’s annual budget of $2.7 million. So Deich is delighted by the sudden support (even if it’s not yet clear what exact portion of these proceeds will be donated, or when that transfer might happen). Yet the gusher is also somewhat astonishing to watch. It points to the new and sometimes contradictory nexus of celebrity and energy in our newly climate-concerned popular culture.