Preparing Periphery: Climate Infrastructure as National Security in the Greater United States

Conference: The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies (ACCS2022)
Title: Preparing Periphery: Climate Infrastructure as National Security in the Greater United States
Stream: Environmental Studies
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
William Shivers, University of Virginia, United States


The American discourse on climate adaptation remains framed solely on coastal and major cities in the "Lower 48". This framework perpetuates the alienation of the country's peripheral land holdings who are witnessing the effects of the climate crisis disproportionately. Stretching from the Caribbean to the Western Pacific, the United States' territories such as Guam and the US Virgin Islands are witnessing alterations to ocean temperatures and acidification, terrestrial drought, increased hurricane and typhoon strength, and loss of biodiversity. As the US moves towards addressing the issues of the climate crisis, how it prepares and adapts these peripheral lands will be a critical test of national security and cultural resilience. This paper examines one major tool that has become a common strategy for mitigating climate change, mass tree planting programs (MTPP), and how these may be utilized for better or worse in the two Pacific American lands: the Territory of Guam and the State of Hawai’i. Here, MTPP are understood at the species level to see both the cultural and ecological implications they carry for the lands with which they are associated. By arguing for these species utilization, the paper applies the concept of MTPP as a critical strategy for maintaining national security for the United States and as a model for adaptation throughout the Pacific region.

Virtual Presentation

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