Picarro Blog

Picarro Named World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer 2012 And Our (Modest) Plan to Change the World

Date: August 31, 2011

Today the World Economic Forum announced that Picarro had been selected as a Technology Pioneer 2012. This is a tremendous honor and a proud day for all Picarro employees! The World Economic Forum is one of the most prestigious collaborative problem-solving organizations on the planet. On behalf of all Picarro employees, I will be receiving the award at the Annual Meeting of New Champions beginning on September 14th in Dalian, China, otherwise known as the “Summer Davos.” The Forum’s annual meeting in Davos (Switzerland) is a global summit for the leaders of the world in disparate realms such as business, government, media and policy. I will be going to Davos to represent Picarro and to showcase how our technology can improve our collective understanding of the global carbon, water and nitrogen cycles and - by extension - the shared global resources of our air, food and water (all of which are impacted directly by and dependent nearly completely on these elemental cycles).

Fortunately, I have plenty to talk about. Because the technology that Picarro’s amazing research and engineering teams have built and continue to improve upon already has changed the world of science and stands to change the rest of the world, too. Before Picarro analyzers arrived on the scene, most atmospheric scientists that wanted high-precision measurements of greenhouse gases had to capture air in a bottle, put it on a plane, truck it to a lab, then run the gas through a complicated and expensive instrument. Now, atmospheric researchers put Picarro analyzers in remote locations, uplink to the Internet, and get continuous, real-time measurements of greenhouse gases over days, weeks and months without touching the device. It’s a game changer!

This technology has not only significantly enhanced the sheer volume of credible greenhouse gas measurement data for scientists, but Picarro analyzers are also making possible the emerging networks of networks that are launching throughout Asia, the Americas and Europe. The end result will be the creation of astonishingly granular greenhouse gas emissions maps to support compliance with international treaties, regional policy and regulatory agendas, and to provide a completely independent means of verifying otherwise self-reported claims of emissions reductions.

In field after field of science, Picarro has radically changed the measurement game by launching analyzers that provide super-high precision measurements of atmospheric gases or stable isotope ratios anywhere in the world. Stable isotope measurements are an amazing and yet completely underutilized tool to track the pathways of carbon, water and nitrogen throughout our world. It is truly an emerging scientific frontier! By letting scientists (and non-scientists) take world-class measurements where the action is - onto a volcano in Nicaraugua, aboard a boat in the Gulf of Mexico, on a plane flying over the Alaskan tundra, and into a huge factory churning out bioplastic bottles - Picarro is enabling an era when these sorts of measurements become ubiquitous and effortless.

What’s more, these measurements will become a key driving force in measuring the efficacy of environmental policy shifts that impact many millions around the globe and have multi-billion (if not trillion) dollar economic impacts. Even today with Picarro, a lab technician in Niger is measuring the water isotope ratios of vapor samples taken from the local tropical air to better understand the global monsoon cycle (that impacts rainfall and climate). A school teacher in the Falkland Islands operates a Picarro to provide valuable greenhouse gas measurements from this remote island location. A graduate student in the remote pine forests of Colorado uses our revolutionary Induction Module to extract water from a leaf and measure stable isotope ratios that can tell us how well the tree is absorbing water . Or a factory technician in Atlanta burns a tiny speck of plastic to glean the precision ratio of bioplastics to petro-plastics in a bottle. Those are the customers that I personally get most excited about.

 Our selection as a Technology Pioneer 2012 winner shows that the World Economic Forum and the esteemed judges (who rated the hundreds of applicants and winnowed down the list) see the promise of Picarro’s technology. It’s a promise of radically improved information collection and analysis of the global carbon, water and nitrogen cycles and of the three pillars of life on Earth - air, food and water. We don’t have small goals and neither do our customers, who deserve all the credit. They are the ones using our instruments to make the world a better place through measurement. The possibilities of what, where, and how we can measure are positively limitless. Contemplating that is what keeps me up at night.