[Blackstudies-l] Green Islands for All? Avoiding Climate Gentrification in the Caribbean

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Sun Oct 22 01:39:28 EDT 2017

ivetteromero posted: " In “Green Islands for All? Avoiding Climate
Gentrification in the Caribbean,” published by the Society of Ethnobiology,
reports on the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on many Caribbean
islands, “where vulnerable communities now find themselves on th"
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<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/> Green Islands for All?
Avoiding Climate Gentrification in the Caribbean
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>

*[image: Irma]*

*In “Green Islands for All? Avoiding Climate Gentrification in the
Caribbean,” published by the Society of Ethnobiology
reports on the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on many Caribbean
islands, “where vulnerable communities now find themselves on the front
lines of a climate crisis.” Jennifer D. Adams (associate professor at the
University of Calgary; affiliated with the Barbuda Research Complex
<http://barbudaresearchcomplex.weebly.com/>, working on science learning
and sustainable resilience); Crystal Fortwangler (former professor of
sustainability and environmental anthropology); and Hadiya Gibney Sewer
(Ph.D. candidate at Brown University, adjunct at the University of the
Virgin Islands, and co-founder of the St. John Heritage Collective) write
that “As we saw post-Katrina in New Orleans, we are witnessing mass
displacements of people, including the evacuation of an entire island.” See
full article at Society of Ethnobiology

[. . .] Each affected island is a *disasterscape*, a term Anu Kapur (2010)
uses to describe the collective condition of disaster, places with “a
gaping wound that pleads for quick repair and relief.” As communities
struggle to regain a sense of stability, governing bodies and interested
parties make plans for the future. In the Caribbean, these post-disaster
proposals include urgent calls to rebuild the Caribbean in a “green”
framework. Resiliency is one primary goal, which aims to improve the
capacity of islands to recover better from future hurricanes. For example,
the Governor of the US Virgin Islands, Kenneth E. Mapp, has established the
USVI Hurricane and Resiliency Advisory Group “to make critical
infrastructure, homes, and businesses more resilient to future storms and
other natural disasters” (Oct. 16, 2017). Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit
of Dominica also made an urgent call for resiliency in a poignant speech
before the U.N. General Assembly: “Let these extraordinary events unleash
the innovation and creativity of global citizens to spark a new paradigm of
green economic development that stabilizes and reverses the consequences of
human-induced global warming” (Sept. 23, 2017).

Across the Caribbean, there are many ready to ignite these sparks. Richard
Branson, who owns Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, began
talking about re-developing the BVI with renewable energy less than a week
after Maria. The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, recently
entered into conversations with Tesla to discuss rebuilding with solar
power. Virgin Islands Senator Janette Millin Young has just announced that
her staff is working with Tesla’s SolarCity to create a plan for the U.S.
Virgin Islands. The day after Maria hit the US Virgin Islands, a realtor
with investments and/or interests in the islands suggested to a public
Facebook group that it is “never too soon to start thinking about
rebuilding our tourism, cruise ship, vacation rental & second home markets.
. . . [a]s we rebuild we reposition the USVI as a "solar showcase" for
companies searching for the perfect place to demonstrate what their
products can do.”

Renewable energy is, of course, a critical and necessary component to
address the climate crisis. But will green energy provide just and
equitable solutions for Caribbean people? Whose voices are at the table
making decisions about energy use and distribution? Will everyone have an
opportunity to benefit from what Richard Branson calls the “Marshall Plan
for a greener, resilient Caribbean

Kapur explains that “diasterscapes” become commodities that can be sold,
politicized, and corrupted. Re-building green may strengthen the islands to
better withstand future storms and help reduce environmental impact. But it
is also the case that after climate change disasters, low-income and/or
communities of color often cannot afford to rebuild. Prime lands are sold
to wealthier occupants who develop properties for their leisure and profit,
often at the expense of the surrounding communities. Here the concern
is “climate
As Darwin Bondgraham (2007) points out in his analysis of New Orleans after
Katrina, natural disasters often exacerbate pre-existing power dynamics and
gentrification processes. We wonder who will be able to return and what
will become the “new normal” of the Caribbean as the islands embark on the
long, challenging and expensive recovery process? We also need to consider
whether “resiliency [is] being coded as a way to do the land grab,” a point
raised by David Capelli, founder and CEO of Florida smart city consultancy
TECH Miami.

Former VI Delegate to Congress, Donna Christensen, highlighted her concerns
about this in a recent social media post about who is leaving, arriving, or
returning post-hurricanes. It is not the first time Virgin Islanders have
asked this type of question. In 1938, as people from the continental United
States began moving more frequently to and purchasing property in the
islands, a political cartoon appeared in a local paper, asking why natives
were leaving home, friends, and family as continental adventurers flew by
overhead en route to the islands. Christensen apologizes for paranoia, but
she is, of course, justified. In just one example, stateside Virgin
Islanders working as real estate agents are already receiving calls asking
whether or not any cheap land is available. The callers, who are planning
to capitalize on the disaster, probably know that many of the displaced
will not have the capital to rebuild. [. . .]

[Image above: Hurricane Irma turns the Caribbean brown.  Credit:  NASA
Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the
U.S. Geological Survey, September 11, 2017.]

For full article, see https://ethnobiology.org/
*ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* | October
21, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Tags: British Virgin Islands
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/british-virgin-islands/>, climate change
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/climate-change/>, gentrification
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/gentrification/>, Green Islands
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/green-islands/>, Hurricane Irma
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/hurricane-irma/>, Hurricane Maria
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/hurricane-maria/>, hurricane relief
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/hurricane-relief/>, Hurricanes
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/hurricanes/>, land grab
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/land-grab/>, Necker Island
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/necker-island/>, Puerto Rico
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/puerto-rico/>, U. S. Virgin Islands
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/u-s-virgin-islands/>, Virgin Islanders
<http://repeatingislands.com/tag/virgin-islanders/> | Categories:
Environment <http://repeatingislands.com/category/environment/>, News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-ygo

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