Vulnerability and human security in the face of climate change

Author(s): Margaret Nelson

Year: 2015


Vulnerability to climate change is a central issue in contemporary policy at local, state, national, and global scales. Facing an uncertain future, public and private organizations, policy makers, and resource managers are concerned about our ability to develop social-ecological systems resilient to climate change. "Long-term sustainability" in the face of present and anticipated climate impacts is a national and international goal. However, planning for long-term sustainable management is a daunting task, as the future is inherently unknowable. Further complicating planning is the limited nature of scenarios of possible futures, which are based on information drawn from present and very recent past. Such short observational spans or artificially restricted case examples hamper sustainable management. Long sequences documented by archaeologists and historians provide knowable changes in human-landscape-climate interactions that represent sets of completed experiments in human eco-dynamics. Scholars from two research teams— North Atlantic Biocultural Organization (NABO) in circumpolar North Atlantic region and Long-Term Vulnerability and Transformation Project (LTVTP) in arid and semi-arid deserts of southwestern US and northern Mexico – are investigating the relationship between aspects of climate change and social change in extremely different settings and over many centuries. In this presentation we describe outcomes of our comparative research.

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Cite this Record

Vulnerability and human security in the face of climate change. Margaret Nelson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397165)