Shoreline along a bay in Salem, Massachusetts, with newly planted marsh grass in the foreground.
Climate Adaptation At Collins Cove in Salem, Massachusetts, TNC is piloting a living shoreline, using natural marsh grass to reduce erosion. It is part of a larger study across the northeast. © Loren Dowd/TNC

Stories in Massachusetts

A Journey to Understand Climate Change

An interview with Jason Jacobs, an entrepreneur and podcast host who wants everyone to join him on a climate change learning journey.

Jason Jacobs is a longtime software entrepreneur who turned his focus toward climate change a few years ago while searching for a line of work with meaning. He dove in headfirst—learning from experts in the field and then sharing that information with his audiences, at first through a newsletter and then through a podcast, called My Climate Journey (MCJ).

How did you first get involved in the software industry?

It was my first job out of college, and I never looked back! I initially came in as a technical recruiter, in the height of the 90s tech boom, and then it just went from there. 

What was the turning point for you to switch gears from the business of software to tackling climate change?

I was fortunate to have a successful outcome for my last company, Runkeeper, after an almost decade-long journey. There was much luck, privilege and timing that went into that, and I felt a duty to give back and make my next chapter about purpose. So, I started reading about climate change online, and started reaching out to experts in parallel! I’m a social learner and I wanted to engage people, not just passively read about the issues. The monthly newsletter was the first thing to come out of it. I updated people on all of the ground I’d covered, my evolving understanding and where I could use help. As that grew, I realized I had been talking to all of these experts, but their stories hadn’t been shared beyond the notes app on my computer. So that inspired me to start the podcast.

Quote: Jason Jacobs

I think we need to inspire people—help them see that changing our way of life doesn’t necessarily mean sacrifice, that it can actually lead to much greater abundance and equality.

Founder, My Climate Journey

Your recent endeavors through My Climate Journey are focused on updating people on your evolving views as you learn about climate change. Why do you believe that learning and educating others is so important to addressing this crisis?

The problem is so complicated. Until one has a sense of the complexity and systems nature of the problem—as well as the urgency and stakes!—it is hard to have a pragmatic discussion about what to do about it, or to figure out how to help.

Learn from TNC Experts

Read Their Insights

What’s one of the main takeaways you’ve had from this journey so far?

We need to turn the big tanker ship that is our global economy. Big things, little things, policy things, activism things, education things, innovation things, democracy things, journalism things—they all matter. Rather than debating about which solution should win, my focus is on getting more people to care, and helping the ones that do find where they can have the most impact.

I tend to spend more of my time at the intersection of the technology industry and climate change, as that is where I’ve spent my entire career, but it is more because of that than because I think it matters more than other areas. Though it does matter a lot! 

What are some of the connections between the effects of climate change and people that you don’t think are emphasized enough by environmental organizations, the media and others? What could they be doing better?

That’s a hard one. I mean there is a lot of talk about the science, because the science matters. And there is a lot of talk about the urgency, because it is urgent. And there is a lot of talk about bad stuff happening, because it will happen and already is happening. But I think we need to inspire people—help them see that changing our way of life doesn’t necessarily mean sacrifice, that it can actually lead to much greater abundance and equality. Change is scary, but the future can be brighter than we have ever known.   

Could you talk a little more about the MCJ Collective that recently launched?

My Climate Journey started with content. Then, a community naturally formed around the podcast, which has since evolved into a thriving, global group of more than 1,000 members. I have been investing in climate technology startups actively, as a way to learn and get closer to the action. But as my portfolio has grown, the podcast and community have grown, and more people are interested in getting involved. And, as I have climbed the learning curve, I’ve been seeing more compelling startups, higher caliber ones, getting access to these opportunities more easily, and have been able to be more helpful post-investment. As a result, I recently created a fund to invest more dollars in more startups. With support from the MCJ community, we essentially have a bigger piggy bank to execute the same strategy I had already been following with my personal assets. 

Take Your Own Learning Journey

Get up to speed with our environmental issues guide.

Speak Up for Nature

What are three things you wish everyone was doing for the environment right now?

Voting, longing for more harmony with our planet and with each other, and taking more personal accountability, from wherever they sit, to do their part to bring about change.

Favorite place in nature? In New England?

In nature, probably New Zealand! It has been a long time since I’ve been there (1996!), but what a gorgeous place. In New England, there are so many beautiful places, but I love Stowe, Vermont in the summer!