Climate crucible : American choices in Germany, Japan, and the making of the Great Acceleration, 1939-1953

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This dissertation presents a new interpretation of American responsibility and reveals overlooked contingencies in the acceleration of key drivers of anthropogenic climate change in the mid-twentieth century. Historians have recognized links between the ascent of the United States to superpower status in the 1940s and the launching of the Great Acceleration--a global skyrocketing of greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption starting soon after 1945. Scholarship has focused largely on longer-term climate effects of American actions and domestic consumption. Less attention has been paid to another form of American contribution: choices by U.S. foreign policymakers as they shaped transnational patterns of industrialization and resource use across a pivotal decade for global politics and environmental change. More fully understanding the making of the Great Acceleration requires investigating the degree of choice and knowledge of risk among U.S. policymakers from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Engaging U.S. military, diplomatic, and intelligence archives, this dissertation investigates how American policymakers developed ideas that stressed equality over competition in postwar industrial geography and resource use in Europe and Asia--and why they ultimately discarded these ideas. Each chapter focuses where competing choices and risks appeared sharply: debates regarding Germany and Japan during war and occupation. While U.S. policymakers did not understand the climate impacts of their choices, they knowingly turned from plans that supported more balanced and sustainable transnational patterns of industrialization and resource use in Europe and Asia to accept risks of global inequality, resource exhaustion, and preparation for future world war. This work bridges historiographies of the American empire, U.S. foreign relations, and critical Anthropocene studies to expand historical insights on the deepening climate crisis.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2023; ©2023
Publication date 2023; 2023
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Nauert, Paul Gregory
Degree supervisor Chang, Gordon H
Thesis advisor Chang, Gordon H
Thesis advisor Uchida, Jun
Thesis advisor Wolfe, Mikael
Degree committee member Uchida, Jun
Degree committee member Wolfe, Mikael
Associated with Stanford University, School of Humanities and Sciences
Associated with Stanford University, Department of History


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Paul Gregory Nauert.
Note Submitted to the Department of History.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.

Access conditions

© 2023 by Paul Gregory Nauert

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