As a global society, our fossil fuel use has resulted in atmospheric CO2 concentrations much greater than at any other time during the last 650,000 years. Until now, our best approach was simply to avoid such emissions. But because of our failure to act quickly and at large scale, we now must go beyond that strategy and remove CO2 directly from the air. Trees and oceans already do this, but these systems are overwhelmed. Manufactured or synthetic removal systems are designed to pull CO2 from the atmosphere at a much faster rate. This talk reviews both the promise and pitfalls of this approach.
About the Speaker
Jennifer Wilcox is a Kleinman Center Visiting Scholar and the James H. Manning Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. She has a master's degree in physical chemistry and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Arizona. Having grown up in rural Maine, she has a profound respect and appreciation of nature, which permeates her work. Wilcox's research takes aim at the nexus of energy and the environment, developing both mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimize negative climate impacts associated with society's dependence on fossil fuels. She has served on a number of committees including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society to assess carbon capture methods and impacts on climate. She is the author of the first textbook on carbon capture, published in 2012. She also gave a TED talk on the Main Stage in April 2018 on Direct Air Capture.