Indigenous Peoples, Solar Radiation Management, and Consent

Whyte, K. (2012). Indigenous peoples, solar radiation management, and consent. Engineering the Climate: The Ethics of Solar Radiation Management. Ed Christopher J. Preston. Lexington Books.

Funding research on solar radiation management (SRM) is now a policy option for responding to climate change due to the perception that international abatement efforts are creeping along too slowly. SRM research presents a range of problems concerning consent for Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples’ landscapes may risk rapid, unforeseen changes that will force communities either to respond under great hardship or migrate elsewhere. Since the science and engineering behind SRM are esoteric to non-experts, legitimate concerns arise about transparency and procedural justice. Indigenous peoples may also contest the very idea of human “control” of global temperatures In this paper, I will examine what it would take for parties interested in funding, designing, and carrying out early SRM research to fairly respect members and leaders of Indigenous peoples in their current discourses.

Now This! Indigenous Sovereignty, Political Obliviousness and Governance Models for SRM Research.

Whyte, K. P. (2012). Now this! Indigenous sovereignty, political obliviousness and governance models for SRM research. Ethics, Policy & Environment, 15(2), 172-187.

Models are currently being outlined for governance of early research on Solar Radiation Management (SRM), a form of geoengineering. SRM includes techniques that decrease the earth’s and its atmosphere’s absorption of solar energy such as adding ‘light-scattering aerosols to the upper atmosphere’ and ‘increasing the lifetime and reflectivity of low-altitude clouds’ (Keith, Parson & Morgan, 2010, p. 426). If implemented, the global effects of such SRM solutions will in some fashion impact everyone. Indigenous peoples, among other populations, are right to be concerned about how governance plans unfold. Proponents of any governance model for early SRM research are responsible for counteracting political obliviousness, which is the disposition to presume that Indigenous community members are individual citizens of nation states like Canada and Australia – as opposed to being members of distinct peoples whose preferred lifeways are encumbered by these nation states. I will argue that governance models can counteract political obliviousness by integrating into their core assumptions respect for Indigenous peoples’ sovereignty, which is possible if the meaning of Indigenous sovereignty is adequately accounted for in governance models. This is a complex challenge that is undertaken as much as is feasible in this essay.