Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Use archeology to better understand climate change

One of the followed methods to use to better understand climate change.

An international team of anthropologists, geographers and earth scientists have turned to archeology to confirm their theory that the past informs the future of climate change.

   In an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Montreal anthropologist Ariane Burke and her colleagues advocate for a new evolving discipline called "climate change archeology."

   It is an interdisciplinary science that uses data from archaeological excavations and the paleoclimate record to study how humans interacted with their environment during past climate changes, such as the warming that followed the last ice age, more than 10,000 years.

   Scientists hope to identify the turning points in climate history that led people to reorganize their societies to survive, showing how cultural diversity, a source of human resistance in the past, is just as important today as a bulwark against global warming.

 "The archeology of climate change combines the study of environmental conditions and archaeological information," explains Burke, who heads the Hominin Dispersion Research Group and the Laboratory of Ecomorphology and Paleoanthropology. What this approach allows us to do is identify the range of challenges people faced in the past, the different strategies they used to meet these challenges, and ultimately whether or not they were successful. "

   For example, studying the rapid warming that occurred between 14,700 and 12,700 years ago, and how humans coped with it, as evidenced in the archaeological record, can help climate specialists to model the possible outcomes of the climate change in the future, says Burke, cited by Phys.org.

Historically, people in different backgrounds have found ways to adapt to a warming climate, and these can inform the present and help prepare for the future, the researchers say.

   For example, traditional agricultural practices - many of which are still practiced today - are valid alternatives that can be used to redesign industrial agriculture, making it more sustainable in the future, they say.

   Indigenous cultures play an important role in teaching us how to respond to climate change; In the Canadian Arctic, for example, indigenous people have detailed knowledge of the environment that is key to planning a sustainable response, Burke notes.

   "Similarly, indigenous farmers around the world grow a wide variety of crop types that will not all respond in the same way to changing climatic conditions. They are preserving the diversity of crops in the global food chain. And if the major types of crops we currently depend on fail, this diversity could prove a lifesaver. "

   Another example is the re-adoption in northeastern North America of multicultural agriculture based on the "three sisters": corn, squash, and beans. "There are archaeological models for this," says Burke, "and the question is to use them to devise more sustainable ways of farming on a local scale that will ensure food security for years to come."

Source: europapress.

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