Credit: Hartman, Steven, Peter Norrman, Anders Birgersson and Thomas McGovern. How can understanding the past help us address future climate change? Originally published in bifrostonline.org, 12 February 2017 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
How can understanding the past help us address future climate change?
The past is full of examples of human societies that underwent painful transitions — even collapse — when faced with dramatic climate and other environmental changes. Reflecting on the value of history as we prepare to meet present and future challenges, archaeologist Thomas McGovern notes that the past can be both an inspiration and a warning, as we now face change on an unprecedented scale in our own lifetimes. Knowledge of the past is indispensable, he notes, “if we are going to be effective in building scenarios that can take us through what will be interesting times to genuine sustainability in the future.”