Carbon Geoengineering and the Metabolic Rift: Solution or Social Reproduction?

Diana Stuart, Ryan Gunderson, Brian Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Using the concepts of metabolism and metabolic rift as a framework, this paper examines carbon geoengineering technologies as a solution to climate change and explores if it is possible to mend an ecological metabolic rift without fundamental changes in the social metabolic order. Carbon geoengineering technologies have become a key component of scenarios to limit the extent of global warming and are being discussed as a means to sequester carbon and, therefore, mend the carbon cycle. However, most applications of carbon geoengineering thus far do not result in net negative emissions. Strategies to make operations profitable result in neutral or positive, rather than negative, emissions. While these strategies have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations, the current social order constrains their use and effectiveness. Instead of being applied as part of the solution to climate change, carbon geoengineering is being strategically promoted by the fossil fuel industry in ways that serve to reproduce and maintain the current social order.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1249
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Sociology
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • capture
  • carbon
  • environment
  • geoengineering
  • metabolic rift
  • metabolism
  • sociology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Carbon Geoengineering and the Metabolic Rift: Solution or Social Reproduction?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this