David Keith (scientist)

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David W. Keith is Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics for Harvard University's Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Professor of Public Policy for the Harvard Kennedy School at Harvard University.[1] He is also board member and acting chief scientist at Carbon Engineering.[2]

Keith’s research has spanned several domains, including climate-related technology assessment and policy analysis, technology development, atmospheric sciences, and physics.[3]



Keith has worked on solar geoengineering since 1992, when he wrote one of the first assessments of the technology and its policy implications.[4] Since Keith’s 1992 paper, which introduced a structured comparison of cost and risk, and a later review paper that first described the moral hazard and set geoengineering in the post-war history of weather control, Keith has sought answers to the questions:

  • How unequal? – First quantitative analysis of regional inequality of solar geoengineering.[5]
  • How to reduce risks? – New method to reduce the amount of sulfur needed for a given radiative forcing;[6] and, a novel class of self-levitated particles that might limit ozone loss.[7]
  • What does the public think? – First large-scale survey of public perception.[8]
  • How to regulate? – Proposed two-threshold system that combines deployment moratoria with a pathway for regulating small-scale research.[9][10]
  • How to evaluate trade-offs? – Early economic analysis of optimal decisions under uncertainty and a value-of-information analysis while supervising the first economics Ph.D. to focus on geoengineering.[10][11]

In 2013, Keith released a book, A Case for Climate Engineering, detailing a controversial strategy for slowing climate change. The book’s publisher’s blurb states: "A leading scientist long concerned about climate change, David Keith offers no naïve proposal for an easy fix to what is perhaps the most challenging question of our time. But he argues that after decades during which very little progress has been made in reducing carbon emissions, we must put climate engineering on the table and consider it responsibly... This book provides a clear and accessible overview of the costs and risks, and how climate engineering might fit into a larger program for managing climate change."[12]

He has also contributed to assessments focused on geoengineering. Keith was a member of the working group for UK Royal Society's 2009 report[13] as well as the Bipartisan Policy Center Report.[14]

Keith is the co-director, with Gernot Wagner, of Harvard's Solar Geoengineering Research Program founded in 2017.[15]

Public comments[edit]

In 2010, Keith testified before committees of the U.S. Congress and the UK Parliament. He presented to U.S. National Academy meetings in 2000, 2009 and 2013 and was coauthor of the geoengineering sub-chapter (WG 2, 4.7) of the Third IPCC Report and served AR5.[10]

Keith has been featured on the Discovery Channel,[16] did an interview on BBC News HARDTalk in November 2011,[17][18] has participated in TED talks in September 2007,[19] participated in a debate at the Royal Geographical Society in 2009,[20] and appeared in a documentary on geoengineering currently under production.[11] He also discussed his geoengineering idea to slow climate change by spraying reflective particles into the upper atmosphere on The Colbert Report.[21]

Other work[edit]

Keith is sceptical about the benefits of fuel cell vehicles using compressed hydrogen.[22] He is bullish on solar energy.[23]


  1. ^ "Harvard Kennedy School - David Keith". Hks.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  2. ^ "People — Carbon Engineering". Carbonengineering.com. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  3. ^ Vidal, John (4 February 2018). "How Bill Gates aims to clean up the planet". the Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  4. ^ Keith, David W.; Dowlatabadi, Hadi (July 7, 1992). "A Serious Look at Geoengineering" (PDF). Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union. 73 (27): 289 and 292–293. Bibcode:1992EOSTr..73..289K. doi:10.1029/91eo00231. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2015. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  5. ^ Moreno-Cruz, Juan B.; Ricke, Katharine L.; Keith, David W. (2012). "A simple model to account for regional inequalities in the effectiveness of solar radiation management". Climatic Change. 110 (3–4): 649–668. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0103-z.
  6. ^ Pierce, Jeffrey R.; Weisenstein, Debra K.; Heckendorn, Patricia; Peter, Thomas; Keith, David W. (2010). "Efficient formation of stratospheric aerosol for climate engineering by emission of condensible vapor from aircraft" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters. 37 (18): L18805. Bibcode:2010GeoRL..3718805P. doi:10.1029/2010GL043975. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  7. ^ Keith, D. W. (2010). "Photophoretic levitation of engineered aerosols for geoengineering". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 107 (38): 16428–16431. Bibcode:2010PNAS..10716428K. doi:10.1073/pnas.1009519107. PMC 2944714. PMID 20823254.
  8. ^ Mercer, A. M.; Keith, D. W.; Sharp, J. D. (2011-10-24). "Public understanding of solar radiation management - IOPscience". Environmental Research Letters. 6 (4): 044006. Bibcode:2011ERL.....6d4006M. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/4/044006.
  9. ^ Parson, Edward A.; Keith, David W. (2013). "End the Deadlock on Governance of Geoengineering Research" (PDF). Science. Keith.seas.harvard.edu. 339 (6125): 1278–9. Bibcode:2013Sci...339.1278P. doi:10.1126/science.1232527. PMID 23493699. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  10. ^ a b c "Solar Geoenginering — David Keith". Keith.seas.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  11. ^ a b Moreno-Cruz, Juan B.; Keith, David W. (2012-05-17). "Climate policy under uncertainty: a case for solar geoengineering". Climatic Change. 121 (3): 431–444. doi:10.1007/s10584-012-0487-4.
  12. ^ Keith, David. "A Case for Climate Engineering | The MIT Press". Mitpress.mit.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  13. ^ [1] Archived July 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Task Force on Climate Remediation Research" (PDF). Bipartisanpolicy.org. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  15. ^ "Harvard Scientists Moving Ahead on Plans for Atmospheric Geoengineering Experiment". MIT Technology Review. March 24, 2017. Retrieved 2017-12-19.
  16. ^ "Geo-engineering: Removing carbon from air - Discovery Channel". Geo-engineering.blogspot.com. 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  17. ^ "BBC News Channel - HARDtalk, David Keith, environmental scientist". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-11-14. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  18. ^ "The original David Kieth Interview on BBC Hard talk show Host - Stephen Sackur". YouTube. 2012-01-22. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  19. ^ "David Keith: A critical look at geoengineering against climate change | TED Talk". TED.com. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  20. ^ [2] Archived April 28, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "David Keith - Video Clip | Comedy Central". Cc.com. Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2016-03-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ Keith, David. "I Was Wrong About the Limits of Solar. PV Is Becoming Dirt Cheap". Greentech Media. Retrieved 7 February 2018.

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