AMS on Geoengineering

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) present:

Geoengineering: The Risk Management Potential of Climate Engineering

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Room 1334 Longworth House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC

*This event is part of the AMS Climate Briefing Series (, which is made possible, in part, by a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program*


Ken Caldeira, Ph.D., Climate scientist, Carnegie Institution Department of Global Ecology, & professor, by courtesy, Department of Environmental Earth System Sciences, Stanford University

David Keith, Ph.D., Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Calgary


Paul Higgins, Ph.D. Associate Director, American Meteorological Society Policy Program


Speaker: Ken Caldeira

Title: Carbon Dioxide Removal

We are familiar with the idea of planting forests to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. However, there are many other approaches to removing CO2 from the atmosphere, some of which are both promising and largely unexamined. These options can be divided into two classes: One class uses chemical engineering methods to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in centralized facilities; this class has much in common with “conventional” carbon capture and storage from coal-fired electric power plants. Another class uses either biological or chemical approaches distributed over large spatial areas. With the exception of ocean fertilization, these approaches are largely non-controversial and present no new types of risk. This talk will discuss the diversity of carbon dioxide removal approaches and how they might be evaluated using a range of metrics (cost, scalability, etc).

Speaker: David Keith

Title: Solar Radiation Management

Solar Radiation Management (SRM) approaches seek to diminish some of the adverse climate effects of elevated greenhouse gas concentrations by reflecting sunlight to space. In their current form, the best SRM methods have several common properties: They have relatively low direct costs of deployment, they may be deployed rapidly and are fast-acting, and they are imperfect. Climate model simulations indicate that SRM efforts may be able to diminish most climate change in most places most of the time, but these approaches nevertheless introduce unprecedented environmental and political risks, and pose formidable challenges for governance and regulation.


Ken Caldeira is a staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution, where his job is “to make important scientific discoveries.” He also serves as a professor (by courtesy) in the Stanford University Department of Environmental Earth System Science. Caldeira is a lead author for the upcoming IPCC AR5 report and was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on Carbon Capture and Storage. He was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America’s Climate Choices report. He participated in the UK Royal Society geoengineering panel in 2009 and ocean acidification panel in 2005. He was a lead author of the 2007 U.S. “State of the Carbon Cycle Report. Caldeira was invited by the National Academy of Sciences Ocean Studies Board to deliver the 2007 Roger Revelle Lecture, “What Coral Reefs Are Dying to Tell Us About CO2 and Ocean Acidification.” In 2010, Caldeira was elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Professor David Keith has worked near the interface between climate science, energy technology and public policy for twenty years. His work in technology and policy assessment has centered on the capture and storage of CO2, the technology and implications of global climate engineering, the economics and climatic impacts of large-scale wind power and, most recently, the land footprint of energy technologies. As a technology developer and innovator, David has built a high-accuracy infrared spectrometer for NASA’s ER-2 and developed new methods for reservoir engineering to increase the safety of stored CO2. Since 2009 David has led Carbon Engineering Ltd., a start-up company developing technology to capture CO2 from ambient air at an industrial scale.

David took first prize in Canada’s national physics prize exam, won MIT’s prize for excellence in experimental physics, was listed as one of TIME magazine’s Heroes of the Environment 2009 and was named Environmental Scientist of the Year by Canadian Geographic in 2006. He spent most of his career in the United States at Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon University before returning to Canada in 2004 to lead a research group in energy and environmental systems at the University of Calgary.

David has served on numerous high-profile advisory panels such as the UK Royal Society’s geoengineering study, the IPCC, and various Canadian ‘blue ribbon’ panels and boards. David has addressed technical audiences with articles in Science and Nature, he has consulted for national governments, global industry leaders and international environmental groups, and has reached the public through venues such as the BBC, NPR, CNN and the editorial page of the New York Times.


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