M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Wake Smith

Why Geoengineering is Inevitable
February 6, 4:00 – 5:30, M-RCBG Conference Room, B-503

Climate change is coming, likely in greater magnitudes than most people realize.  Emissions reductions remain essential and adaptation will become urgent, but those steps alone will prove insufficient to meet the IPCC’s climate goals.  Geoengineering refers broadly to two categories of climate interventions – those intended to remove and sequester greenhouse gases from the climate system, and those intended to change the earth’s radiative balance by deflecting a small fraction of the incoming sunlight.  We have already crossed a threshold beyond which the former will be required to secure a satisfactory climate future, and within the lifetime of most of the world’s current population, we will also experience impacts that are likely to trigger widespread demands -- particularly in the global south -- for the latter type of intervention.  Geoengineering remains largely unknown to the general public and highly controversial within climate circles, but it is also time to recognize that there is no acceptable climate future without it.

The session will commence with a presentation, followed by comments and discussion from the floor.

Wake Smith wearing glen plaid jacket and blue t-shirt in front of shelves of booksWake Smith is a Lecturer in Yale College, where he teaches an undergraduate survey course on geoengineering.  As a Senior Fellow at the M-RCBG, he conducts research on the practical aspects of solar geoengineering deployment, including aerosol lofting tactics, financing requirements, and organizational structure.  He finished his business career as a Senior Industry Partner at New State Capital Partners, a New York based middle market private equity firm.  He previously led the buyout of Pemco World Air Services, a global leader in aircraft modifications, where he served as both President and Chairman.  Former positions included Chief Operating Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, and President of the training division of Boeing.  He started his aviation career as a bankruptcy consultant, advising on the restructurings of Pan Am, TWA, Continental, Eastern Airlines, and America West among others.  He holds a BA in History from Yale and an MBA from Harvard.  His faculty sponsor is Joseph Aldy, Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Email: ​wakesmith@hks.harvard.edu