Discover more from environMENTAL
In May of 2022, we happened across an article on a growing self-publication medium. We were vaguely familiar with Substack through Bari Weiss’ New York Times resignation and subsequent rebirth.
The piece’s subject matter had to do with our life’s work - at the intersection of environment/energy/economics. It was beautifully written, with well-researched unique insights, courageous, heterodox and profoundly poignant. The depth was so impressive it made a mockery of the “journalists” and pundits at most mainstream media outlets, including venerated old titans of the business like Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and others. The $300 annual price tag did not deter us. We became an instant Doomberg subscriber.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine sent shock waves through energy markets. At the same time, it laid threadbare the impossibility of Europe’s, and especially Germany’s (Energiewende) renewable energy “transition”, something that had seemed self-evident to us more than a decade earlier. We watched last summer and fall as Europe scrambled to secure every molecule of the evil hydrocarbons it had been denouncing for over a decade, while pricing Pakistan out of LNG for its utility plants. The European Central Bank printed money, Pakistanis dealt with rolling blackouts. And America was marching blindly down the same misbegotten path.
For over a decade, we had been thinking about how we could use our experience in industry to try and contribute to the conversation about environment, energy and economic policy. We saw dangerous, disingenuous, faux green altruism, fear mongering and hyperbole taking modern environmentalism off the rails, with dire consequences for the 5+ billion not yet at our living standards. Nearing the end of rewarding careers, we were looking for a way to direct our energy and expertise into the broader discourse.
Doomberg’s journalistic excellence and the intrigue of anonymity with its catchy clip art logo. The amazing platform we saw in Substack.
The reckoning that vacuous promises of “cheaper”, “cleaner”, “zero-emissions” renewables were having with physics and economics at the expense of the world’s poorest. What we had learned through our experience as practitioners in the field.
We thought: What if the answer to how we channel our interest in contributing to this conversation is simple? Our own Substack.
What would we call it? What would we use for a tagline? What about a logo? What about the reality (but for a few industry publications and an odd freelance piece) that we didn’t have a nanosecond’s experience writing for publications? Were we crazy, or just plain stupid?
With little to lose, an unhealthy absence of fear and not knowing what to expect, we laid out a thesis around Thanksgiving last year. We toyed around with some names and taglines. For a logo, we found a graphic artist in a global online freelance network with no shortage of talent. We thought about who we’d like to reach, the subjects we thought it is important for readers to understand more about, and why – why they should understand these issues, and why we would undertake such an effort.
In December, we were like a flock of mallards staging on a prairie lake in October in Saskatchewan anxious to migrate south. We felt the winds of global energy and environmental politics shift direction, and our instincts told us – NOW.
After refining our initial thesis a bit, we launched environMENTAL on December 10 last year. We sent it to friends, people we know in the business, people we knew were interested in the topics we would cover. We did not ask them to send it around.
In that first piece, laying out our view and purpose, we wrote:
The thesis of environMENTAL is simple: “Leaders” of the advanced industrial nations who imposed the transition to “renewables” on the entire world did so without understanding science (physics and economics), resource constraints and the potential unintended consequences of their actions. We fear this could be a human prosperity disaster in the making and an enormous waste of resources , will achieve virtually nothing to alter the trajectory of climate change, will cause more harm to the environment than it reduces, and threatens to condemn the world’s poorest to misery.
This requires critical examination. We intend to do so.
Thirty-three days later, in mid-January, we had 100 subscribers. Looking at their brief descriptions, we were highly encouraged to find engineers, scientists, power and utility, energy, and other industry professionals, academics, finance experts and everyday people interested in the subject matter.
We had exciting days in February and March when certain Substack authors and content creators whose work we admire recommended us to their readers, or “followed” us on Twitter. We got a nice bump in subscriptions. We were grateful that others thought enough of our early work to recommend us to their readers.
We hit 500 subscribers just before Tax Day in April. “Likes” and comments were growing.
Substack’s launch of Notes in April gave us a nice boost. But Twitter’s punishment of Substack for Notes couldn’t have come at a worse time for us, in theory. De-boosting Substack content and de-activating links hurt our growth. But the truth is, we suck at social media, won’t pretend to understand it generally and never got any traction on Twitter. The tiny signal in the overwhelming noise on that platform always frustrated us.
Having not figured out the marketing thing very well yet, we pressed on. This work was a labor of love and a passion project from the beginning. We love every minute of the research and writing work, the thrill of publishing day, the feedback we get from our readers and subscribers.
Nineteen content pieces and a bit over 7 months later, on August 6th, we hit our first real milestone:
1,000 subscribers, in 45 U.S. States and 73 countries worldwide. Before we could pen this note, we were already closing in on 1,100.
This is a post to say thank you! We are grateful and humbled by your support, subscriptions, and comments. We read every comment. Following sage advice from one of Substack’s best, we want to elicit in our readers the feeling “ooh, I GET to read that!” when you see each of our pieces arrive in your inbox.
Our humble figures would be laughable by the standards of Substack’s top content creators. But, we’re chugging along in our own way, continually encouraged by steady, if not meteoric growth.
We’re big fans of Substack. It is the horse we intend to ride until she bucks us. We love the more intimate connection Substack gives us with our readers and subscribers compared to the noisy, free-for-all vibe on Twitter.
We have stopped publishing our content on Twitter. From now on, we will use our Twitter account to call out absurd environmental fear mongering, rhetoric, and promises but our content will not be posted there.
Because we have not figured out effective ways to market environMENTAL, and we’ve stopped publishing our content on Twitter, we’d like to ask for your help. Our readers are thoughtful and with diverse backgrounds and experiences. If you find our work worthy, please share it with like-minded people. In fact, in the spirit of goodwill and debate, we’d also specifically ask that you share it with a few people who are the opposite of like-minded.
You, readers and subscribers, are helping us grow. We’re very grateful to you for that help. And we’re enjoying interacting with you in the comments sections of each piece.
We’re going to be out West fishing in the Rockies for a few days. We’ll be thinking about the future of environMENTAL. What we want it to become. What we can do to provide valuable knowledge with entertainment to our readers and subscribers. How we can improve so that you have that reaction we desire when our piece lands in your inbox.
Thanks for your support. The best is yet to come.
See you in about 10 days.
The environMENTAL Team