From green to black: a voluminous political ecology of the extraction-conservation nexus

Yolanda Ariadne Collins*, Robert Fletcher

*Corresponding author for this work

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Within political ecology research, a dominant focus on the hard physicality of the world limits engagement with how events taking place on land mediate and are mediated by other material spaces like the atmosphere. This paper engages with burgeoning research on the extraction-conservation nexus to highlight how the clearly demarcated land-based boundaries on which nexus thinking relies limit an awareness of how processes of conservation and extraction cohere and take shape in and through the aerial atmosphere. The paper substantiates this argument with case studies on Guyana and Suriname, two countries that have been working on avoiding deforestation through REDD+ for over a decade in the aim of mitigating climate change. In each case, we examine three years of news reporting on recent, major oil finds in the Guyana-Suriname Basin. The news reports, set against longer term research, demonstrate a narrative pivot from ‘green’, land-based avoided deforestation narratives to ‘black’, offshore extractive ones. The reports show that reference to the competing atmospheric effects of the mutual pursuit of these activities is scarce, even at a time of rapidly intensifying climate change. Hence, we argue that a voluminous analysis of the extraction-conservation nexus integrating a vertical awareness of the ever-present and unbounded atmosphere harbours potential for orienting a less contradictory politics of climate change – one that recognizes how activities deemed oppositional on land take shape in the shared, unbounded atmosphere. These activities consequently go on to affect other spaces and places in indirect, often unpredictable ways.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date28 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2024


  • Atmospheres
  • Climate change
  • Political ecology
  • Volume


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