Featured Profiles

The Gallant Climate Warrior

Kelly Wanser is an innovator committed to pursuing near-term options for ensuring a safe climate. She is the Founder and Executive Director of SilverLining, a NonProfit Organization driving policy and innovation to ensure a safe climate within a decade. She is also the Co-Founder and Advisor to the University of Washington Marine Cloud Brightening Project to understand one possible form of climate intervention: the cooling effects of particles on clouds. Wanser also serves on the BioCarbon Engineering board — a company using data and automation (including drone technology) to restore native ecosystems and the President’s Circle of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.


Kelly Wanser was raised in Salt Lake City, Utah and Fort Worth, Texas. Her family fostered children and sponsored a refugee family from Cambodia, and believed in helping people in whatever ways they could. This intent of serving others is deeply embedded in Wanser’s work to help mitigate the climate challenges that await humanity.


Wanser pursued her B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from Boston College and went on to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Oxford. Early in her career, she served as a Corporate Strategy Consultant in London and taught Economics and Philosophy as a volunteer at St. John’s College in Belize City.


She soon found herself working in the Technology and Infrastructure industry. In 2008, while working in the Technology sector, Wanser met a few scientists named Ken Caldeira, Steve Schneider, John Latham, who educated her on climate change that profoundly impacted her. She soon found herself scouting for answers to ward off climate change, and its effects on the planet. The scientists introduced her to the concept of geoengineering the climate with the possibility of cooling the climate by reflecting sunlight through dispersing particles to increase the reflection of the sun from the atmosphere and clouds. This idea intrigued her, and she started working relentlessly on this passion project to save the world. During this period, she was part of a small community of early pioneers in the field and coined the term Marine Cloud Brightening to describe the potential to increase the reflectivity of low-lying marine clouds by injecting them with aerosols.


Soon after that, in 2009, Wanser co-founded the Marine Cloud Brightening Project at the University of Washington and hosted the first meetings of collaborators in Seattle and Edinburgh and secured a small amount of research funding to begin their work to tackle the challenges faced by a rising climate.


In 2017, Wanser testified before the United States House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in a hearing called by Republican legislators known to dispute climate change science. The hearing was subsequently described as an unusual “rational discussion on climate change” by the committee that was seen as a huge setback for Wanser and the climate activists present. However, she was determined and continued to work with research teams, congressional offices and science agencies to identify research priorities and find solutions.


In 2018, Wanser founded SilverLining, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that society has good options to address near-term climate risk. The NonProfit Organization engages with the research community, policymakers, technologists, civil society and people from all walks of life to advance research and innovation to ensure a safe climate.


In an effort to curb the rising emissions in the world, she joined the Board of Biocarbon Engineering, now known as Dendra Systems, as its first Director. The company uses advanced data science, artificial intelligence, and drone automation to rehabilitate land and restore biodiverse ecosystems at scale. They currently operate in the U.K. and Australia.


In 2019, Wanser spoke at the 2019 TEDSummit that was an eye-opener to the masses. In her talk, titled “Emergency Medicine for our Climate Fever”, she characterized current climate mitigation efforts as “a slow-moving solution to a fast-moving problem” and encouraged research to “understand our options” for climate intervention technologies. Wanser went ahead and described geoengineering the climate as “emergency medicine for the earth’s climate fever.”


She has dedicated her life to solving the climate crisis that the human race is currently facing. She has studied every facet of climate risk in every area imaginable and authored over 20 patents giving the world a fighting chance to battle out this crisis. She has also served as an Advisor to Ocean Conservancy to apply advanced analytical methods to understanding ocean-climate risk and finding ways to lessen the impact on our oceans. She also served as an Advisor to the Laser Inertial Fusion Energy (LIFE) Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that aims to provide energy to the world sustainably and as a low-cost alternative from fossil fuels, thereby making the shift to green energy easy and effortless.


In the words of Dr Jane Goodall, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”