Finding and Sharing Climate Stories with Cultural Heritage

In 2014, the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) released a policy memo titled “Climate Change and the Stewardship of Cultural Resources.” One of the points of the memo is that “Every place has a climate story, many have more than one” and “each park and program should engage its staff, including facilities and maintenance staff, rangers, resource managers, scientists, and superintendent, and its surrounding communities to begin to identify and share their climate stories.” To date, a framework of four types of climate stories for cultural heritage (including archaeological sites, cultural landscapes, historic/prehistoric buildings and structures, ethnographic resources, and museum collections) has been developed: how we see change in material culture, how change is being experienced by traditional and other communities, how past societies responded to past environmental change, and how the modern climate situation has come to be. This framework is being incorporated into the NPS National Climate Change Interpretive Plan, and merged with the And-But-Therefore narrative format developed by science communicator Randy Olson. This presentation overviews current progress in developing and sharing climate stories across the NPS.