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Kathleen McAfee

San Francisco State University

Based in

United States
North America

Professor Kathleen McAfee studies the rationale and results of ‘selling nature to save it’, as governments and companies try to solve climate and biodiversity crises by pricing environmental benefits and harms in dollars. She assesses why REDD+ and other programs to save tropical forests have failed and whether carbon markets in offsets and ‘permits to pollute’ can slow global-warming or will make things worse. She holds a PhD from University of California, Berkeley and taught at Yale School of Forestry and Environment before joining the faculty of San Francisco State University. She has consulted with UN and international development agencies and is active in efforts to phase out fossil fuels in California.

Country(ies) of Specialty

United States Dominica Guyana

Focus areas of expertise

Greenwashing Climate policy and politics Net Zero Climate Justice

How to Connect



Kathleen McAfee. 2022. “Shall the American Association of Geographers Endorse Carbon Offsets? Absolutely Not!” The Professional Geographer 74:1, 171-177.

Kathleen McAfee. 2016. “Conservation, Development, and Trade in Carbon Offsets.” S. Fiske & S Paladino (eds) Carbon Fix: Equity & the New Environmental Regime. Routledge.

Kathleen McAfee. 2016. “The Politics of Nature in the Anthropocene 2016:2, 65-72 in “Whose Anthropocene?” RCC Perspectives, Rachel Carson Center, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany.

Kathleen McAfee. 2015. “The Post- and Future Politics of Green Economy and REDD+.” B. Stephan and R. Lane (eds) The Politics of Carbon Markets. Routledge.

Kathleen McAfee & Elizabeth Shapiro. 2015. “Les paiements pour services écosystémiques au Mexique,” in F. Thomas and V. Boisvert (eds.) Le pouvoir de la biodiversité: Néolibéralisation de la nature dans les pays émergents. IRD Éditions and Éditions Quae, France.

Kathleen McAfee. 2015 “Green Economy and Carbon Markets for Conservation and Development: A Critical View.” International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 16(3), 333-353.

Kathleen McAfee. 2012. “The Contradictory Logic of Global Ecosystem-Services Markets.” Development and Change 43:1, 105-131.

Kathleen McAfee. 2012. “Nature in the Market-World: Ecosystem Services and Inequality.” Development 55:1, 25–33.

Kathleen McAfee & Elizabeth Shapiro. 2010. “Payments for Ecosystem Services in Mexico: Nature, Neoliberalism, Social Movements and the State.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 100:3, 579-59.

Bruce Ferguson et al. 2009. “La Soberania Alimentaria: Cultivando Nuevas Alianzas entre Campo, Bosque y Ciudad.” Agroecología 4:49-58.

Kathleen McAfee. 2007 “Beyond Techno-Science: Transgenic Maize in the Fight over Mexico’s Future.” Geoforum 39, 148-160.

Kathleen McAfee. 2004. “Geographies of Risk and Difference.” Geographical Review 94: 80-106.

Kathleen McAfee. 2003. “Corn Culture and Dangerous DNA: Real and Imagined Consequences of Maize Gene Flow in Oaxaca.”Journal of Latin American Geography 2, 11-42.

Kathleen McAfee. 2003 “Neoliberalism on the Molecular Scale: Economic and Genetic Reductionism in Biotechnology Battles.” Geoforum 34:2, 203-219.

Kathleen McAfee. 1999 “Selling Nature To Save It? Biodiversity and Green Developmentalism.” Environment and Planning Society and Space.

Kathleen McAfee. 1999. “Rettung oder Ausverkauf der Natur? Biologische Vielfalt und grüne Modernisierung.” Flitner, Michael,Volker Heins, and Christoph Görg (eds) Konflictfeld Natur: Biologische Ressourcen und globale Politik Opladen: Lesken+Budrich. 119-142.

Other works

Kathleen McAfee with Barbara Haya et al. 2023.
“Quality Assessment of REDD+ Carbon Credit Projects” https://gspp.berkeley.edu/research-and-impact/centers/cepp/projects/berkeley-carbon-trading-project/redd


Kathleen McAfee 2023. “Climate Finance and Carbon Colonialism”


Kathleen McAfee 2023 “Selling Nature To Save It: Carbon Markets, Capitalism, and Alternatives” https://soundcloud.com/deathpanel/selling-nature-to-save-it-w-kathy-mcafee-062923