The science of carbon capture

Holly Yeager

     By Holly Yeager, career development coordinator for NAU’s Professional Science Master’s Program in Climate Science and Solutions

NAU’s Climate Science and Solutions professional science master’s program is preparing students for jobs that may not even exist yet. As scientists and world leaders address climate change and take actions to improve the environment, new career fields will emerge, and NAU is preparing individuals for those key positions.

One developing field is carbon capture. CSS recently sponsored physicist Klaus Lackner, formerly with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and now with Arizona State University. Lackner has pioneered the idea and science of capturing carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, coined “air capture.” He argues that without a means to manage the carbon that has already been emitted to the atmosphere, or account for massive amounts of distributed sources of carbon dioxide (think cars, trucks, jets, etc.), we may not be able to avoid the implications of longlasting, greenhouse gases in our air and oceans. He explained that air capture should be considered the “capture of last resort” over other options to first avoid emitting the greenhouse gas, or to collect it where it is more concentrated, such as fossil fuel fired power plants.  In his talk, he described the capture technology he is currently pursuing and will be demonstrating as part of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions currently being established at ASU.

Professor Lackner is one of many professionals that speak with students and the NAU community as part of the Climate Science and Solutions Master’s Program. NAU is part of an elite group offering science master’s programs designed to give aspiring scientists applied experience and needed expertise to integrate science into organizational decision making.  Students in the program spend 18 months learning the science of climate change and how to effectively communicate science to diverse audiences.