Pinhead Climate Institute



Pinhead Institute is a Smithsonian Affiliate based in Telluride, Colorado that strives to promote science-education both locally and globally. Through the development of the Pinhead Climate Institute, its existing mission is expanded to enable education, technology development, innovative partnership opportunities, and actions that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhance carbon sequestration in the terrestrial landscape and to rapidly bring attention to near-term global climate change solutions on the U.S. landscape.

How we do this

In addition to developing education curricula and online tutorials for rural youth, high school students, and undergraduate/graduate programs, the Pinhead Climate Institute will serve as a leader and convening organization for corporate sustainable supply chain initiatives and corporate GHG reduction initiatives. Through its founders’ extensive network and technical expertise, the Pinhead Climate Institute will provide climate solutions leadership through networking, sectoral and individual goal setting, quantifiable actions, and a standardized set of online quantification tools that enable near-term actions.

The Pinhead Climate Institute is a solutions-oriented do-tank.

Our first initiative: TELLURIDE VALUES

WHAT ARE CARBON OFFSETS? A carbon offset is a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions reduction or carbon sequestration enhancement made in order to compensate for, or offset, an emissions made elsewhere such as air travel. Carbon offsets are measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and each offset represents one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its GHG equivalent. Carbon offsetting has gained appeal among consumers of services in emission sectors that do not have immediate opportunities to implement low emission or zero emission strategies. Carbon offsets provide:

DIRECT BENEFITS: The purchaser receives the environmental benefits and co-benefits associated with the offset in exchange for a sum of money.

CARBON PRICE SIGNAL: The money paid for the carbon offset provides a carbon price signal and indicates that the consumer values the ecosystem services provided by the Earth’s atmosphere and understands that too much carbon pollution threatens the future of our planet.

ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS: Farmers and ranchers who implement conservation practices beyond business as usual can generate carbon offsets and begin farming more sustainably — allowing them to harvest carbon offset revenues in addition to working lands revenues.

OUR OFFSET PARTNER: Through the implementation of a permanent and perpetual conservation easement on 16,480 acres of threatened Colorado shortgrass prairie, carbon offsets will be generated by May Ranch in Prowers County, Colorado.  The pristine ranch is threatened by conversion to cropland agriculture and even a feedlot, but through conservation easements and carbon offset payments the May Ranch will ensure that the healthy soils of the shortgrass prairie remain intact forever.

Our start

December 5, 2016 was the second celebration of World Soils Day, a campaign aimed at connecting people with soils and raising awareness of soil’s critical importance in our lives and the function of the planet. Its timing seemed ideal to propose that the Pinhead Institute expand to include a new climate change solutions mission area.

There is a strong connection between the health of our planet’s soils and the health of the planet’s atmosphere. Both have been severely degraded and both are in need of a broad educational campaigns. Soils are healthier and more productive when soil carbon is increased, and the atmosphere is healthier and more stable when carbon (in the form of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases) is removed.

Improving Climate Resilience and Soil Health is a topic that is emerging as a near-term climate solution, with proponents ranging from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to non-governmental organizations like the Natural Resources Defense Council. For its part, the Pinhead Climate Institute focuses on educating rural Americans about the potential for moving existing carbon stocks out of the atmosphere and into carbon-depleted soils.

Telluride provides the Pinhead Climate Institute with the opportunity to interact closely with three Colorado-based entities: the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University; the National Center for Atmospheric Research; and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The closest interactions and partnerships will be with Colorado State University and Professor Keith Paustian’s team of world-renowned experts. Dr. Chambers and Dr. Paustian have worked together and collaborated on numerous efforts, and the Pinhead Climate Institute will leverage this relationship and strive to develop numerous other domestic and international partnerships that help educate rural citizens of near-term climate change solutions.


Sarah Holbrooke, Executive Director

Sarah Holbrooke is the executive director of the Pinhead Institute. Before joining the organization in April 2014, she was a filmmaker and Peabody award-winning television producer, working for ABC News, CBS News and CNN. She collaborated with anchors such as Peter Jennings, Katie Couric and Larry King. As a television producer, Sarah specialized in particularly complicated and daunting field production, organizing shoots at the Museum of Natural History, the red carpet at the Oscars and filming in medical operating theaters. She also was a senior booker for several networks including CNN where she arranged on-air interviews with leading opinion makers, scientists, and celebrities. Sarah is a graduate of Wesleyan University, with a double major in English and Psychology with a concentration in BioPsych. After living in New York city for two decades, she now lives in Telluride, Colorado with her husband David, the Festival Director of Mountainfilm in Telluride, her three children and her two dogs. In her spare time she enjoys rock climbing, hiking, biking and relaxing with a good book.

Adam Chambers, Ph.D., Scientist and Co-Founder, Pinhead Climate Institute

Dr. Adam Chambers is a scientist who splits his time between Portland, Ore. and Telluride. In Telluride, he works closely with the Pinhead Climate Institute to educate young scientists and implement town-level climate actions that also encourage rural economic development. Over the past two decades Dr. Chambers’ project work has focused on the applied sciences and reducing atmospheric pollutants (air pollutants and greenhouse gases). He is currently working to implement conservation measures on managed agricultural lands that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sequestration, providing an emerging carbon market opportunity for US landowners and agricultural producers. He received his Doctorate from the Technical University of Vienna (Austria), Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and his B.Sc. from Murray State University in Kentucky.

Chris Arndt,  Co-Founder, Pinhead Climate Institute

Chris Arndt began his career in 1992 as a Research Assistant at Environmental Risk Sciences, Inc., a consulting firm based in Washington D.C. In 1994, he moved to New York City and from 1995 to 2010 he was an equity analyst, portfolio manager, and a partner in the firm Select Equity Group, Inc. Mr. Arndt contributed to the significant growth of the firm over this fifteen-year period.  As an equity analyst, he focused mostly on life science and healthcare companies. In 2010, Mr. Arndt left Select Equity Group, Inc., to turn his attention to public policy issues, such as accelerating the adoption of clean energy. He has served as Director of the New York Chapter of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), and currently serves on the board of the NRDC Action Fund. At Wesleyan University, he studied economics, history and political theory, graduating with honors in 1992. In 2016, Mr. Arndt wrote his first book the The Right’s Road to Serfdom


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