When: Wednesday, April 17th, 2024, 2:00PM-3:00PM

Where: DC1304

Description: Public trust in science was already complex before covid.  But the response to the pandemic helped to spur new subcultures and modes of questioning the legitimacy and role of science in navigating tradeoffs between collective action and personal freedom. There is a spillover in discourses of “personal sovereignty” or “medical freedom” towards discussions of “climate lockdowns”, influenced by mistrust of elites and an overarching narrative of the “Great Reset” in which elites use crisis to curb liberties.  While these ideas are often viewed as fringe, they are influencing energy policy and broader electoral politics in several countries. They are also reshaping popular understanding of solar geoengineering, as these new discourses of climate/freedom are in some cases merging with and modifying pre-existing ideas about chemtrails.  

This talk will draw upon multiple methods (interviews, focus groups, discourse analysis, and participant-observation) to explore the US context in particular, discussing what these new political subcultures mean for climate politics broadly and the politics of solar geoengineering research in particular. 

Holly Buck


Holly Jean Buck, Assistant Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University at Buffalo. 

She is an environmental social scientist whose research focuses on public engagement with emerging climate and energy technologies. She is the author of After Geoengineering (Verso, 2019) and Ending Fossil Fuels: Why Net Zero Is Not Enough (Verso, 2021), and co-edited the volume Has It Come to This? The Promises and Perils of Geoengineering on the Brink (Rutgers University Press, 2020).  She holds a PhD in Development Sociology from Cornell University.