Conceptualising Climate Change Archaeology

By Van de Noort, Robert | Antiquity, September 2011 | Go to article overview

Conceptualising Climate Change Archaeology


Van de Noort, Robert, Antiquity


Introduction

Archaeology claims a long tradition, going back to the middle of the nineteenth century, of undertaking both palaeoclimate research and studies on the impact of past climate change on human communities (Trigger 1996:130-38). Such research ought to be making a significant contribution to modern climate change debates, such as those led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); bur in practice this rarely happens (e.g. McIntosh et al. 2000). This paper will attempt to conceptualise a 'climate change archaeology', which is defined here as the contribution of archaeological research to modern climate change debates (cf. Mitchell 2008). Irrespective of whether climate change poses the greatest challenge in the twenty-first century or whether it is just one of many challenges facing humanity (cf. Rowland 2010), the absence of an archaeological voice diminishes the relevance and impact of the debate as a whole.

This paper will consider the current relationship between climate change research and archaeology, noting that an evidence base for the impacts of past climate change, and the responses of communities, is almost entirely missing from the agenda. An argument will then be made that archaeology is well placed to enhance the socio-ecological resilience of communities and their adaptive capacity to climate change through the study of past pathways to adaptation. Finally, the concepts of climate change archaeology and the contribution it can make to current debates will be illustrated in a case-study, focused on the North Sea.

Climate change research and archaeology

The IPCC was created by the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Environment Program in 1988. The United Nations' General Assembly defined the task of the IPCC as follows:

'to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; social and economic impact of climate change, possible response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate' (UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53; 6 December 1988).

The IPCC does not undertake primary research itself, but carries out meta-analyses of published studies and presents these in its 'assessment reports'. To date, the IPCC has delivered four such reports, and the Fourth assessment report (AR4) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. These assessment reports present the results of three different working groups. Working Group I is concerned with the scientific basis of climate change; the chapters on palaeoclimate provide a long-term context for the projections of future climate change, as well as distinguishing between its natural and anthropogenic components. Working Group II focuses on the impact on the environment and people's adaptation to climate change. Working Group III concentrates on the mitigation of the effects of fossil-carbon fuelled climate change. Many states have developed national assessments, agendas and policies based on the IPCC findings to consider what modern climate change means for them, such as the Stern review on the economics of climate change (Stern 2006).

In AR4, it was noted that there is unequivocal evidence that the global atmospheric concentration of Green House Gases (GHGs) has increased since AD 1750 'as a result of human activities' (Bernstein et al. 2007: 37). Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (C[O.sub.2]) and methane (C[H.sub.4]) are higher today than at any time in the last 650 000 years. Current concentrations of nitrous oxide ([N.sub.2]O) are very likely unprecedented for the last 16 000 years. The recent increase in C[O.sub.2] is due primarily to the burning of fossil fuels; the increase in C[H.sub.4] to agriculture and fossil fuel use and the increase in [N.sub.2]O primarily to agriculture (Bernstein et al. 2007: 37). Higher concentrations of these wellmixed GHGs result in increased radiative forcing and accelerated global warming (Bernstein et al. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Conceptualising Climate Change Archaeology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.