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Bringing Climate Politics Home: Lived Experiences of Flooding and Housing Insecurity in a Natural Gas Boomtown

Lehman, J. and Kinchy, A. (2021) 'Bringing Climate Politics Home: Lived Experiences of Flooding and Housing Insecurity in a Natural Gas Boomtown.', Geoforum., 121 . pp. 152-161.


As the extraction of shale gas and oil transforms localities, these places emerge as important if understudied sites of contemporary carbon politics. In this paper, we develop a new approach for examining lived connections between fossil fuel extraction and climate change. We propose the concept of carbon mobilization to describe the multiple stages of fossil fuel extraction and combustion that may be experienced separately (as an economic boom, climate disaster, or air pollution, for example) or simultaneously, in locally distinctive combinations – but until now have been considered separately in most scholarship and public policy. We explore lived experiences of carbon mobilization in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, a community that, in the last decade, has gone through a shale gas boom and bust and has suffered from severe flooding. Interviews with social service providers and county leaders indicated that connections between the fossil fuel industry and climate disaster manifested most saliently around housing security—particularly the loss of housing due to floods and economic insecurity related to boom-bust cycles. Economic changes that gas development brought to the community made flood resilience more challenging for some, and easier for others. Perhaps surprisingly, the natural gas industry was a “double winner,” benefitting from climate disaster by gaining a reputation for helping with flood recovery. We suggest that while global climate discourse may not resonate locally in communities that host fossil fuel extraction, people make locally-salient connections between different stages of carbon mobilization, and these connections have important public policy and social justice implications.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 14 March 2023.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2021. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:22 February 2021
Date deposited:15 March 2021
Date of first online publication:14 March 2021
Date first made open access:14 March 2023

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