Department or Program

Environmental Studies


In the age of anthropogenic climate change, the ethics of large-scale carbon sequestration efforts become important not just for different human populations but for every organism negatively impacted by a warming climate and rising seas. What differential responsibilities do humans have in extending rights and dignity to the nonhuman world in light of our culpability for widespread habitat loss and environmental degradation? Who gets to make decisions about carbon sequestration given that it impacts not only existing generations of humans and nonhumans but those not yet born as well? It is essential to ask these questions because of the anthropocentrism and zoocentrism endemic to human environmental and political institutions. This thesis adopts a biocentric framework to argue that nonhumans, with special focus on the vegetal world, need to be democratically included in such environmental decision-making. Furthermore, this thesis examines mangrove conservation as a case study for these ethical questions. These salt-tolerant, rhizomatic trees sequester two to four times as much carbon as mature tropical forests while providing vital habitat for marine species and supporting human communities, yet they are also increasingly threatened by sea level rise. By examining mangroves as a complex ethical space that unifies the human and nonhuman worlds, this thesis advocates for the democratic inclusion of all organisms in carbon sequestration discourses via the adoption of institutional biocentrism.

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

First Advisor

Tyler Harper

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages



Available to Bates community via local IP address or Bates login.