Dr. Ye Tao
"I was in charge of running a lab at Harvard's Rowland Institute to develop new microscopes to improve how we could work with nanoparticles. The more I heard about global warming and the scientific issues surrounding that from colleagues, and how quickly the Earth would begin to experience devastating effects, I started questioning my efforts in nanoscience, which would take decades to develop and bring to implementation. I realized I had to re-focus my time on this much more urgent problem.
I have a multidisciplinary background in physics, chemistry, engineering and material science, which among today's scientists is relatively uncommon. In nanoscience, we talk much about dimensionality―the number or level of physical dimensions matter exists under. Climate change and greenhouse gas accumulation are, in essence, a three-dimensional problem because we have emitted so much gas in a three-dimensional space, Earth's atmosphere, and it is very freely mixed.
In order to clean this enormous volume of space, we have in front of us a 3D engineering problem, and if you factor in the time needed to suck all the air out and circulate it through a filter, then it becomes a four-dimensional problem.
We are obsessed with getting rid of greenhouse gas to try to open a window so the heat from Earth can escape. But what if we looked upstream?
What if instead of letting the heat escape from Earth, we try to find a way to stop it from developing in the first place, just by reducing the amount of heat produced on the ground as the sun shines on the planet? And in fact, this is a much more efficient way of solving the problem, reducing it from its original three dimensions, to just two dimensions."
Dr. Ye Tao received a doctorate from the Department of Chemistry at MIT in 2015. He also completed the research requirements for a doctorate in Physics at ETH Zurich. To accelerate a move to Cambridge, MA, where he had been invited to lead a research lab at the Rowland Institute at Harvard, he forfeited the opportunity to defend a second doctoral dissertation.
His lab got to work in 2016, but Dr. Tao's professional trajectory unexpectedly swivelled in a new direction. After grasping the ultimate outcome of excess carbon accumulating in Earth's atmosphere, he founded MEER (Mirrors for Earth's Energy Rebalancing) to design, develop and deploy surface-based nontoxic reflectors. Bouncing solar radiation back into space to bypass the greenhouse effect of carbon emissions is his strategy for helping humanity survive in an overheating world.
In 2021, he left the Institute to devote himself to a singular task: the pursuit of bold and creative engineering solutions, with just applications, to perfect available options for ensuring that our biosphere—the delicate living membrane enveloping the "pale blue dot" of Earth—remains host to a boisterous parade of life.
Dr. Tao expresses his love for life through awe. Always observing, he ponders and marvels at our wonderful world: the balance and beauty, the patterns and complexity, the fragility and resilience of Earth's energy flows and her ecosystems.