The Pelican Beak


“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”
― John F. Kennedy.

Well the sun ain’t shining, and we’re back in lockdown, but with some rays of hope: Biden’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, Johnson’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’, and wolves voted back into Colorado… we hope this newsletter shines some light.

Again we’ve been blown away by our readership. Thank you! Please forward on. You’re the reason the Pelican Beak exists, and we’re overwhelmingly grateful.

We’re going through multiple revolutions in soil & gut health, food & farming systems, ecosystem restoration and our understanding of nature’s connectivity. This month’s content includes:

A bird’s-eye-fly-by of the UK in 100 seconds, how swimming with an egg on your head makes for peaceful democracy in harder times,

RethinkX's incendiary report on an imminent dark age or an ‘Age of Freedom’. As the 5 major tenants of civilisation face synchronised disruption: ‘energy, transport, materials, information and agriculture’; Will AI free us as ‘the price of the American Dream plummets to a hundred dollars a month?’

Obama’s former security advisor and the US Special Envoy for Climate Change discuss Biden’s ability to act on climate, Google & Crowther Lab show us how to reforest 1bn hectares, data-king Hans Rosling explains how the world's better than we think, how regenerative food systems save birds, how Xi and Joe need 1-up-manship for a race to net zero, how cheap solar is already driving a sustainable revolution, finding sea slugs for herpes, fermentation at home, as art and gut-builder, a radical exposé on social media’s control of our subconscious, a Nature Recovery Network to link our habitats, spacemen discuss birdsong, a playlist to nod to, and the definitive film about the party in our soils.

We’re enormously privileged to work with such visionary founders driving this change.

If you invest in early-stage impact and would like to join Pelican Founders, please get in touch.

Meanwhile we hope you enjoy.

Christopher Ramsay & the Pelican Founders

ps, we’re looking for a fitting sponsor. This newsletter takes some time to put together. If you like what you read, think your brand or someone else’s would add to the message and vice versa, then please get in touch.

“We are on the cusp of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruption of agriculture in history.” - RethinkX

Christopher Ramsay
Partner of Patagonia’s 1% for the Planet
Ambassador to
Supporter of Farm491


Quick videos that pack a punch:

The UK’s land use broken down into 100 seconds.

Nat Geo's eye-opening flyover of UK land use in 100 seconds. 28% of our land is used for feeding cows and sheep whilst only 10% is forested. More trees please.

What if the world stopped eating meat?

10 billion people by 2050 will eat 60% more food. Food systems cause 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, 75% of all freshwater and 40% of Earth’s land. The Economist looks at one promising hypothetical: what if everyone was vegan?

A billion hectares ready for reforestation.

Crowther Labs takes data from 1.2m forests around the globe. The team behind The Trillion Trees initiative, in partnership with Google, present Restor; an open digital platform for large scale restoration and reforestation could change the game.

Watch luminary Greg Asner use lidar and its stunning imagery to map illegal gold mining in the Amazon, and the most biomass-dense areas of forest for the Peruvian Government; and create national reserves as a consequence.

Also see Rainforest Connect using old cell phones with solar chargers, strapped to trees, listen for the sound of chainsaws kilometers away, to alert for illegal loggers.

3 articles that need a read:

We need to provoke China! If Biden wants to be the Climate President, he’ll need to keep ahead of Xi. New York Times talks about ‘virtuous competition to a low carbon world’.

Fabien Cousteau’s $135m International Space Station of the Deep Sea

Fabien Coucteau takes his grandfather’s Conshelf II concept 60 feet further down. ‘To understand our ocean depths we must be there’. Backed by universities to observe, find and test. For ocean life as much as bio-pharmaceuticals, like sea slugs that treat cancer, pain or herpes. Steve Zissou and his Jaguar Shark would be proud:

Spaceman asks how much for your birdsong or coral reef?

Voyager spacecraft’s McCarthy and brilliant Brainpicking’s Maria Popova, with Teddy Roosevelt, weave their defence of nature: And their podcast on how happiness “may well be the most serious business of all”.

3 must-read reports:

RethinkX on rethinking Humanity. A MUST READ!

Descend into another dark age or use the convergence of technology disruptions to end poverty, inequality, resource conflict, and environmental destruction. How tech in the 2030’s will shake the 5 foundational sectors of our global economy to their core. From a world built on coal, oil, steel, livestock and concrete, to a world built on photons, electrons, DNA, molecules and qubits, could bring about the ‘Age of Freedom’.

Read the full report here (hit Instant Download).

The UK’s state of Nature, how do we compare?

The definitive benchmark for future progress. The European Environmental Agency lay’s bare the progress we needed to improve nature and biodiversity. 81% of UK habitats have a poor rating. With agriculture as the largest driver of degradation, will better food systems have the answer?

There’s no excuse.

“The world’s best solar power schemes now offer the cheapest electricity in history” - IEA World Energy Outlook 2020.

The IEA predicts 43% more solar output than it expected in 2018 and is already 20-50% cheaper than last year’s outlook.

3 books to boggle:

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

The world's not as bad as we think, fact!

The late, data-king and sword swallower, tells us to be aware of our negative biases and arms us with evidence that the world’s actually improving. 95% of children born today, globally, have access to vaccines. A shot of optimism as he tools us to frame our decisions in facts that are often better than our biases want us to believe.

English Pastoral by James Rebanks

Part visionary, scientist, historian and poet. The de facto voice of upland farming, and Sunday Times bestseller, illuminates his reality as a farmer in a changed countryside:

Tells of work, weather, community and wild things lost. This elegy from the Northern fells is a song of hope: of how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England.

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

It’s an art, it’s a culture and it’s speaks to our gut. The what-and-how of fermentation, from the experts. A bible on beer, cheese, kimchi, kefir, bread; our oldest culinary practices and how to bring them home.

3 must-watch documentaries:

Kiss the Ground !!?@?!!

This is so important we had to share it again. Please tell your friends. The revolution is nigh on soil, food, gut and how we relate to our surroundings. There are more bacteria, fungi and organisms in a handful of soil than people on earth. How a carrot can be 50% less nutritious than it was 70 years ago. Please share and watch with all.

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

The ultimate love-letter to Earth can’t be understated, from the man who’s seen it all up close. We need to act now but there’s hope.

The Social Dilemma that needs our attention

We’re in less control than we think. How Facebook, Twitter and Instagram dictate our thoughts and actions, shift societal values and steer elections. How to overcome the control and how a more human-centric approach to tech could unify instead of divide.

3 mind-rattling podcasts:

U.S. climate policy special: New optimism from those that know.

Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor for President Obama, and Todd Stern, former United States Special Envoy for Climate Change leading up to the Paris Agreement, discuss what mandate a Biden administration has to lead the global push on climate action?

Hard questions for James Rebanks

His family have farmed for 600 years and he farms alongside nature. Globally 80% of people are fed by small-holder farms, equally industrial food systems don’t serve nature. Why should this take on farming matter, and can it put affordable nutritious food on Britain’s tables?

How democracy can be kind:

Irreverent from the start, thoughtful to the bone and deeply original. How Easter Island burnt through their limited resources yet sustained a peaceful democracy by swimming with eggs on their heads. A tale of shared heritage, music and compassion.

For an introduction to Blindboy listen to his interview with Adam Buxton, as they debate humour’s evolution.

Where the wild places are. UK Gov’s trying to link a nature network.

We’re connecting our wildlife. New powerful environmental laws ensure habitats are expanded and connected. The Nature Recovery Network aims to restore 75% of protected sites, create 500,000 hectares of additional wildlife-rich habitat outside of the protected areas and recover threatened species. See plans here.

Also see Teddy Roosevelt’s Conservation Core, where he employed 3 million American youths and created 600 national parks.

Congratulations to our Pelican founders on such enormous impact!

Weedingtech, just surpassed the 1,000 tons milestone for their organic foam stream, meaning it has replaced circa 3000 tons of glyphosate (equivalent to 1,000 miles of roadway treatment). See their guide to herbicide free weed control here.

EnvoPAP’s world leading sustainable packaging, has saved over 760,000 trees from deforestation. In 2019 EnvoPAP saved 2,351 metric tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 93 football fields and emissions from 511 passenger cars for a year. If you own a brand that packages, please consider using EnvoPAP, as have M&S, EasyJet & Leon. See the carefully explained problems with the paper industry here.

Proteon’s natural solutions, have eliminated the need for antibiotics in 50,000 tons of chicken, improving the environment, animal and human health. Especially when 70% of all human antibiotic consumption is from our food chain. Their ultimate goal is to eliminate antibiotics from the food chain entirely.

There’s light, and our ever-tireless founders are helping shine it forth.

If you’d like to meet the founders pioneering change, help them on their journey, or simply compare notes on early-stage, sustainably-forward companies, email us here.

If you’re an institutional investor sign up to our investment platform here.

We work with a number of brilliant charities, family offices and foundations, on their philanthropic focus; and would gladly make introductions, so please get in touch if this might be useful.

We’re here to make smarter impact, so collaboration on all fronts is key, and we like a chat.

Stay safe, see you in December.

Christopher Ramsay and the Pelican Founders team.

Ps: November’s foraging tips from the Woodland Trust here, chestnuts and hops.

Pps: For grow your own Lion’s Mane mushrooms, hailed for their boosting brain properties, see Bristol’s Upcycled Mushrooms.

Playlist: Pelican Beak No.3

22 Songs to nod like a Pelican to:

The Pelican Beak no.3 Playlist