Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Laurie A. Yung

Commitee Members

Michael E. Patterson, Jill M. Belsky, Christopher J. Preston, Jason J. Blackstock


University of Montana


Over the past decade, climate engineering—or the intentional, large-scale manipulation of the global environment to reduce or reverse anthropogenic climate change—has garnered increasing attention from scientists and policymakers. However, impacts from climate engineering will be unevenly distributed. Vulnerable populations already being disproportionately impacted by climate change might benefit or be made worse off. As such, legislators, members of the public, and academics alike have asserted that vulnerable populations deserve to have a say in the research and development of climate engineering technologies and the policies that will govern them. These calls have gone largely unfulfilled. The research presented in this dissertation was designed to help fill that gap. This project set out to answer two main research questions: First, how do vulnerable populations think climate engineering could affect them? And second, how could such populations be more effectively involved in future research and governance efforts?

Drawing on 89 in-depth interviews with Solomon Islanders, Kenyans, and Alaska Natives, this dissertation examines perspectives from vulnerable populations on social, political, and ethical issues related to climate engineering. Specific findings are presented in a series of three manuscripts. The First Manuscript focuses on interviewees’ overall perspectives on climate engineering. The majority of interviewees across all three sites indicated they were willing to consider climate engineering. However, this willingness was both reluctant and conditional. The Second Manuscript focuses on ethical aspects of climate engineering and explores interviewee assertions that climate engineering could represent an extension of dominant society control over vulnerable populations. These findings corroborate ethical research suggesting that members of dominant societies need to vigilantly avoid moral corruption and ensure that climate engineering does not further erode the self-determination of vulnerable populations. The Third Manuscript examines interviewee perspectives on different governance frameworks for climate engineering. Quite a few interviewees argued that regional organizations could play a critical role in the governance of climate engineering research. A concluding chapter draws out connections between the three manuscripts, and suggests directions for policy-making and future research.



© Copyright 2015 Wylie Allen Carr