David KeithNobel Conference 55

How can we use climate engineering to respond to changes in climate? Can geoengineering--capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide, for instance--be used to ameliorate the dangerous effects of climate change? Climate engineer David Keith confronted these questions.

A newspaper headline about Keith reads “Is David Keith’s climate solution genius or madness?” His work to engineer a solution to climate change led Keith to found Carbon Engineering, a company that is developing technology to capture carbon dioxide from ambient air to make carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels. The company has developed an industrially scalable “Direct Air Capture” technology, which can remove CO₂ directly from the atmosphere at an affordable price. The technology does this in a closed loop where the only major inputs are water and energy, and the output is a stream of pure, compressed CO₂.

Keith works at the interface between climate science, energy technology, and public policy. Accordingly, he is a professor of applied physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and applied sciences, and also a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He has published more than 170 scientific papers as well as 25 opinion pieces. Keith has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including being named one of Time Magazine's “Heroes of the Environment” in 2009.