Aarhus University Seal

Rediscovering lessons of adaptation from the past

New publication by Rowan C. Jackson, Andrew J. Dugmore, and Felix Riede


We argue that the deep time perspectives offered by historical disciplines, such as archaeology and history, provide important human-scale data about climate-adaptation over long timescales, and that these insights are currently lacking in global change research and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. Pre-modern societies are not comparable with contemporary societies, but the completed experiments they represent can offer evidence of the consequences of climate change, the challenges of uncertainty and socio-cultural limits to adaptation. The limited visibility of data on long-term human interactions with climate change in global change research could be overcome through a ‘new social contract’, a two-way movement between global change and historical disciplines to, 1) make use of, and apply, historical data to contemporary climate-related challenges, 2) design robust interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary research, 3) publish synthesised research in high-impact climate-adaptation journals, and 4) communicate research to the public in cultural history museums.

Global Environmental ChangeVolume 52, September 2018, Pages 58-65. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.05.006