Critical Geographies of Geoengineering

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM (PST)
Room: Virtual 28
Organizers: Kevin Surprise
Chairs: Kevin Surprise


CFP: AAG 2021 – Critical Geographies of Geoengineering

Geoengineering technologies that can potentially cool the planet by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or blocking incoming solar radiation are gaining traction in climate policy. Many leading climate scenarios for staying below 1.5°C by 2100 rely on large-scale carbon removal, while solar geoengineering research is receiving funding from governments and billionaires, and being prepared for outdoor field experiments. These sets of technologies portend vastly different technological and political questions. Yet, they both raise the prospect of direct intervention into the climate system, and pose new questions for longstanding debates in geography concerning struggles over place, space, and land use, spatio-temporality, capitalism and ecological crises, relationships between technology and power, nature-society theory, and beyond.

Geographers and others in cognate fields have begun to grapple with these emergent questions (Bellamy and Palmer 2018). Some examples include scholarship on geoengineering in relation to governance and ethics (Hulme 2014; Szerszynski et al. 2013), spatio-temporal fixes (Carton 2019; Surprise 2018), ideology and models (Gunderson et al. 2019; McClaren 2018), geopolitics and geopolitical ecology (Corry 2017; Dalby 2015; Surprise 2020; Wainwright and Mann 2018), geologic politics (Clark 2013; Yussof 2013), and land use, colonialism, and climate justice (Buck 2019; Carton et al. 2020; Whyte 2018). How can critical geography inform debates over geoengineering technologies, and how do the prospects, processes, and politics of these technologies speak to central debates in geography, political ecology, and related fields?

This session aims to bring together broad perspectives in critical geography to examine the emergence of geoengineering technologies. Topics include but are not limited to relationships between geoengineering and the following themes:

- Space, place, and land use
- Spatio-temporal fixes and “stop-gap” measures
- Capitalism and climate crisis
- Geopolitics and geopolitical ecologies
- Colonialism and climate debt
- Imperialism and “climate intervention”
- Climate denial, obstruction, and delay
- Climate emergencies and planetary sovereignty
- Technology, governance, and the planetary scale
- Gender, science, and power
- Institutions, funding, and ideology
- Models, scenarios, futures, and speculative politics
- Climate justice and climate repair
- Climate management and the Anthropocene

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words to Kevin Surprise: by October 20th. Also open to those interested in participating in a panel or as a discussant. In person sessions are optimal, but we will develop plans for virtual participation or virtual sessions as necessary.


Bellamy, R., and Palmer, J. (2019). Geoengineering and geographers: Rewriting the Earth in what
image?. Area, 51(3), 524-531.

Buck, H. J. (2019). After Geoengineering: Climate Tragedy, Repair, and Restoration. Verso.

Carton, W. (2019). “Fixing” climate change by mortgaging the future: negative emissions,
spatiotemporal fixes, and the political economy of delay. Antipode, 51(3), 750-769.

Carton, W., Asiyanbi, A., Beck, S., Buck, H. J., and Lund, J. F. (2020). Negative emissions and
the long history of carbon removal. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, e671.

Clark, N. (2013). Geoengineering and geologic politics. Environment and Planning a, 45(12),

Corry, O. (2017). The international politics of geoengineering: The feasibility of Plan B for
tackling climate change. Security Dialogue, 48(4), 297-315.

Dalby, S. (2015). Geoengineering: the next era of geopolitics? Geography Compass, 9(4), 190-

Gunderson, R., Stuart, D., and Petersen, B. (2019). The political economy of geoengineering as
plan B: Technological rationality, moral hazard, and new technology. New Political Economy, 24(5), 696-715.

Hulme, M. (2014). Can science fix climate change?: A case against climate engineering. John
Wiley & Sons.

McLaren, D. P. (2018). Whose climate and whose ethics? Conceptions of justice in solar
geoengineering modeling. Energy research & social science, 44, 209-221.

Surprise, K. (2018). Preempting the second contradiction: Solar geoengineering as spatiotemporal
fix. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(5), 1228-1244.

Surprise, K. (2020). Geopolitical ecology of solar geoengineering: From a 'logic of multilateralism' to logics of militarization. Journal of Political Ecology, 27(1), 213-235.

Szerszynski, B., Kearnes, M., Macnaghten, P., Owen, R., and Stilgoe, J. (2013). Why solar
radiation management geoengineering and democracy won't mix. Environment and Planning A, 45(12), 2809-2816.

Wainwright, J., and Mann, G. (2018). Climate Leviathan: A political theory of our planetary
future. Verso Books.

Whyte, K. P. (2018). Indigeneity in geoengineering discourses: some considerations. Ethics,
Policy & Environment, 21(3), 289-307.

Yusoff, K. (2013). The geoengine: geoengineering and the geopolitics of planetary
modification. Environment and Planning A, 45(12), 2799-2808.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Kevin Surprise*, Mount Holyoke College, Climate intervention: Solar geoengineering, fractions of capital, and hegemonic strategy 15 8:00 AM
Presenter Duncan McLaren*, Lancaster Environment Centre, Olaf Corry, Department of Politics, University of Leeds, Geopolitics, geopower and geofutures: power and pathways in geoengineering governance 15 8:15 AM
Presenter Chris Knudson*, University of Hawai'i At Hilo, The Shared Logics of Solar Geoengineering and Parametric Insurance 15 8:30 AM
Presenter Dominic Wilkins*, Syracuse University, The Anthropocene's Multiple Colonial Dimensions 15 8:45 AM
Discussant Jennie Stephens Northeastern University 10 9:00 AM

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