Ken Caldeira

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Ken Caldeira
Born1960 (age 62–63)
Alma materNew York University (PhD)
Scientific career

Kenneth Caldeira (born 1960) is an American atmospheric scientist. His areas of research include ocean acidification,[2] climate effects of trees, intentional climate modification, interactions in the global carbon cycle/climate system, and sustainable energy.[3][4][5][6][7]

As of 2021, Caldeira is Senior Scientist in the energy research company Breakthrough Energy, Senior Staff Scientist (emeritus) in the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology, and Professor (by courtesy) in the Stanford University Department of Earth System Sciences.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

In the 1980s, Caldeira worked as a software developer.[3] He received his Ph.D in Atmospheric Sciences in 1991 from the New York University Department of Applied Science.[9] From 1991 to 1993, Caldeira worked at Penn State University as a post-doctoral researcher. He then worked as an Environmental Scientist and Physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory until 2005.[10]

Climate change research[edit]

In 2005, Caldeira joined the Carnegie Institution for Science Department of Global Ecology as a senior scientist, where his job is "to make important scientific discoveries."[10][11] He also serves as a Professor (by courtesy) in the Stanford University Department of Earth System Science.[12]

Caldeira served as a member of the committee producing the 2015 U.S. National Academy of Sciences report Geoengineering Climate: Technical Evaluation and Discussion of Impacts.[13]

He was a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR5 report Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.[14] In 2010, he was a co-author of the 2010 US National Academy America's Climate Choices report[15] He participated in the UK Royal Society geoengineering panel in 2009[16] and ocean acidification panel in 2005.[17] Caldeira was coordinating lead author of the oceans chapter for the 2005 IPCC report on Carbon Capture and Storage.[18]

In 2007, Caldeira began advising Bill Gates on climate change and energy issues.[10][8] In his 2016 end-of-year blog post, Gates referred to Caldeira as "my amazing teacher".[19] In 2021, Caldeira began working for the energy research company Breakthrough Energy, which was founded by Gates.[8]


Caldeira's work was featured in a 14 May 2012 article in The New Yorker, entitled "The Climate Fixers"[7] and in a 20 November 2006 article in The New Yorker, entitled "The Darkening Sea."[3] In 2007, he contributed two op-ed pieces on the subject of global warming to The New York Times.[4][5]

In response to the controversy caused by the book SuperFreakonomics over Caldeira's view on climate engineering, Caldeira rejected the suggestion that he had said, "Carbon dioxide is not the right villain". He responded by posting on his website, "Carbon dioxide is the right villain...insofar as inanimate objects can be villains."[20] He said that while the other statements attributed to him by authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner are "based in fact", the casual reader could come up with a misimpression of what he [Caldeira] believes.[21]


In 2011, Caldeira resigned as a lead author of an IPCC AR5 chapter, stating "Again, I think the IPCC has been extremely useful in the past, and I believe the IPCC could be extremely useful in the future. [...] My resignation was made possible because I believe that the chapter team that I was part of was on the right track and doing an excellent job without my contribution. Had I had a scientific criticism of my chapter team, you can be assured that I would have stayed involved. So, my resignation was a vote of confidence in my scientific peers, not a critique."[22]

Caldeira has argued for a policy goal of zero carbon dioxide emissions. In 2005, he said, "If you're talking about mugging little old ladies, you don't say, 'What's our target for the rate of mugging little old ladies?' You say, 'Mugging little old ladies is bad, and we're going to try to eliminate it.' You recognize you might not be a hundred per cent successful, but your goal is to eliminate the mugging of little old ladies. And I think we need to eventually come around to looking at carbon dioxide emissions the same way.".[3] In 2014, he said, "It is time to stop building things with tailpipes and smokestacks. It is time to stop using the sky as a waste dump for our carbon dioxide pollution."[23]

In 2013, with other leading experts, he was co-author of an open letter to policy makers, which stated that "continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity's ability to avoid dangerous climate change."[24]

Awards and recognition[edit]

2008 – Hero Scientist of 2008 list, New Scientist magazine[25]

2009 – Number 36 out of 100 Agents of Change in Rolling Stone magazine[26]

2010 – Fellow of the American Geophysical Union[27]


  1. ^ Ken Caldeira publications indexed by Google Scholar
  2. ^ Caldeira, K; Wickett, M. E. (2003). "Oceanography: Anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH". Nature. 425 (6956): 365. Bibcode:2003Natur.425..365C. doi:10.1038/425365a. PMID 14508477. S2CID 4417880.
  3. ^ a b c d "The Darkening Sea". The New Yorker. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  4. ^ a b "When Being Green Raises the Heat". The New York Times. 16 January 2007.
  5. ^ a b "How to Cool the Globe". The New York Times. 24 October 2007.
  6. ^ "New Study Warns of Total Loss of Arctic Tundra". The New York Times. 1 November 2005.
  7. ^ a b "The Climate Fixer". The New Yorker. 14 May 2012.
  8. ^ a b c "Ken Caldeira". Breakthrough Energy. Retrieved 2021-07-23.
  9. ^ "CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.2". 2012-08-05. Archived from the original on 2012-08-05. Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  10. ^ a b c "Biographies for Ken Caldeira". Carnegie Science. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  11. ^ Harris, Richard. "This Scientist Aims High To Save The World's Coral Reefs". Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  12. ^ "Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences: Ken Caldeira, Professor By Courtesy, Earth System Science". 2010-08-25.
  13. ^ "New Reports Say Climate Intervention Techniques Not Ready for Wide-Scale Deployment". Retrieved 2017-02-02.
  14. ^ IPCC, 2013: Annex V: Contributors to the IPCC WGI Fifth Assessment Report. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York.
  15. ^ Council, National Research (2011). America's Climate Choices. doi:10.17226/12781. ISBN 978-0309145855.
  16. ^ The Royal Society (2009) Geoengineering the climate: science, governance and uncertainty
  17. ^ The Royal Society (2005) Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide Archived 2016-05-06 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "IPCC, 2005: IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage. Prepared by Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Metz, B., O. Davidson, H. C. de Coninck, M. Loos, and L. A. Meyer eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 442 pp" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  19. ^ Gates, Bill. "My Favorite Fanatics of 2016". Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  20. ^ "Caldeira Lab | Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology". Retrieved 2021-01-12.
  21. ^ Jeff Goodell (2009-10-21). "Geoengineering the Planet: The Possibilities and the Pitfalls (interview with Caldeira)". Yale Environment 360. Archived from the original on 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2009-11-22.
  22. ^ New Directions for the Intergovernmental Climate Panel Andrew Revkin, New York Times, December 21, 2011
  23. ^ David Perlman (2014-05-01). "High carbon dioxide levels set a record". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  24. ^ "Top climate change scientists issue open letter to policy influencers". CNN. November 3, 2013. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
  25. ^ "Science Heroes and Villains of 2008". New Scientist. 22 December 2008.
  26. ^ "The RS 100 Agents of Change". Rolling Stone. 2 April 2009. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009.
  27. ^ "American Geophysical Union Fellows: Ken Caldeira".

External links[edit]