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Rediscovering lessons of adaptation from the past

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

2018.08.07 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen


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. doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2018.05.006

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