Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lessons From The Past: Research Examines How Past Communities Coped With Climate Change

Date:
May 29, 2009
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
Research suggests people today and in future generations should look to the past in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. The dangers of rising sea levels, crop failures and extreme weather were all faced by our ancestors who learnt to adapt and survive in the face of climate change.

Jago Cooper and Nelson Torna, who originally uncovered the excavation site.
Credit: Jago Cooper

Research led by the University of Leicester suggests people today and in future generations should look to the past in order to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

The dangers of rising sea levels, crop failures and extreme weather were all faced by our ancestors who learnt to adapt and survive in the face of climate change.

Dr Jago Cooper, of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, has been studying the archaeology of climate change in the Caribbean as part of a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

The international study involvess researchers from Britain, Cuba and Canada. Dr Cooper said: “Populations in the Caribbean, from 5000 BC to AD 1492, successfully lived through a 5m rise in relative sea levels, marked variation in annual rainfall and periodic intensification of hurricane activity.

“This research examines the archaeological lessons that can inform current responses to the impacts of climate change in the Caribbean. I have examined the relationship between long and short-term effects of climate change and past human engagement with the geographical, ecological and meteorological consequences.”

“A key focus of the research has been to investigate past mitigation of the impacts of climate change through the analysis of changes in settlement structures, food procurement strategies and household architecture.”

The study is part of a long term project, begun in 1997, that includes a wide-ranging study of archaeological and paleoenvironmental data. Key to the research has been to understand how the past can inform the future.

Said Dr Cooper: “We have acquired archaeological information that has then been closely correlated in space and time with the long and short-term impacts of climate change. It has then been possible to evaluate the relative advantages and disadvantages of past cultural practices in the face of environmental change and establish lessons that will contribute to contemporary mitigation strategies. “

Following the end of the last Ice Age, the people of the Caribbean have had to cope with a relative sea level rise of 5m over 5,000 years. Hurricanes led to storm surges that reached inland more than ever. Groundwater became contaminated with salt and the land was waterlogged.

But the researchers found that far from abandoning life by the coast and moving further inland, people continued to live by the shore- and even built houses on stilts over a lagoon.

An ancient site in Cuba, Los Buchillones, that is currently out to sea “represents a way of living that capitalises on hundreds or even thousands of years of experience.”

Dr Cooper warns that modern settlements are more at risk of flooding because they are constructed in more vulnerable places. In fact, indigenous settlement locations over water could make homes less at risk of flooding as floodwater could flow beneath the homes and inland rather than pour into the houses.

This ongoing research has looked at past mitigation strategies, assessed how pre-Colombian settlements were located close to cave complexes that acted as refuges during times of past hurricanes, how the architecture of homes were constructed from local resources allowing people to rebuild them easily upon their return. It also reveals how local populations diversified their food production to mitigate against resource scarcity.

The research is described in this week’s New Scientist and is available on their online magazine at http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227096.600-rising-sea-levels-survival-tips-from-5000-bc.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Lessons From The Past: Research Examines How Past Communities Coped With Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527103528.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2009, May 29). Lessons From The Past: Research Examines How Past Communities Coped With Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527103528.htm
University of Leicester. "Lessons From The Past: Research Examines How Past Communities Coped With Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090527103528.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

Battle of New Orleans Cannon Gets New Carriage

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) A Spanish cannon used in the Battle of New Orleans and weighing nearly 3 tons was lowered Tuesday by pulleys, chains and muscle onto a new gun carriage like one that might have held it once aboard a navy ship. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

2,000 Year Old Pre-Inca Cloak on Display in Lima

AFP (Sep. 27, 2014) A 2,000 year-old Pre-Inca cloak that is believed to represent an agricultural calendar of the Paracas culture is on display in Lima. Duration: 00:39 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

Original Mozart Sonata Manuscript Found in Budapest

AFP (Sep. 26, 2014) Considered lost for over two centuries, the original manuscript of one of the most famous works of Mozart's Sonata in A major has been uncovered in a library in Budapest. Duration: 01:04 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins