Contesting the climate: Security implications of geoengineering

Muhammet A. Bas, Aseem Mahajan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scientists predict higher global temperatures over this century. While this may benefit some countries, most will face varying degrees of damage. This has motivated research on solar geoengineering, a technology that allows countries to unilaterally and temporarily lower global temperatures. To better understand the security implications of this technology, we develop a simple theory that incorporates solar geoengineering, countergeoengineering to reverse its effects, and the use of military force to prevent others from modifying temperatures. We find that when countries’ temperature preferences diverge, applications of geoengineering and countergeoengineering can be highly wasteful due to deployment in opposite directions. Under certain conditions, countries may prefer military interventions over peaceful ones. Cooperation that avoids costs or waste of resources can emerge in repeated settings, but difficulties in monitoring or attributing interventions make such arrangements less attractive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1985-2002
Number of pages18
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • Climate change
  • Conflict
  • Countergeoengineering
  • Geoengineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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