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Climate, Culture and Change! 

08 Desember 2011 09:12:06

Climate, Culture and Change!

By Anusha Sherazi

Climate change is one happening that has no bounds and no limits. It happens in a flow and revolutionizes all that exists around it. Cultures of the world had been changing over time with several factors that influence them. There could be several virtual reasons, as politics, religion, economy, societal concerns and many more. However, we never thought of the natural aspects existing in this world, which brought massive cultural changes in the past and are expected to bring more in the future. One such massive natural factor is the changing climate.

Climate Change and its contributions towards the change of cultures in several regions is probably an overlooked reality. Yet, the reality is indispensible.  According to Charles Perrow, 2009, the human society depends heavily on climate.  Temperature influences the human beings the most, as well as the consequent rains and floods, droughts and famines, which lead to ultimate food shortage, hunger, political unrest and in the worst case scenarios, end up in a war.

We can get ready examples from our history when climate change happenings brought huge agricultural disaster. Agriculture is an integral part of every culture and the most dominant source of food for survival. The cultures with a good agricultural landscape and crop produce flourish more and bear expansions. According to B.Van Geel et al,2004, an accelerated cultural development and expansion of Central Asian horse-riding Scythian culture was observed in the South-Central Siberia around 850 BC. It is hypothesized that the reason behind this event was the abrupt climatic shift towards the increased humidity which was a result of decline in solar activity. This shift converted the semi-deserted lands to steppe lands. The biomass of the region increased and the good agricultural produce and carrying capacity of the region caused an ultimate growth of population in the region. This settled a trend for westward migration towards southeastern Europe.

Similarly, such climate change happenings are also responsible for several unwanted and unpleasant events that took place in a few other regions. The long heat spells and the decrease in rainfall have already brought several multi-decadal to multi-century droughts in various new and old world civilizations. Such changes of climate brought shifts of entire societies thorough Population Dislocations, urban abandonment, and state collapse. All these and many more are responsible for destabilization and rebuilding of several cultural norms and ethics with various societies.

The climate Change happening might have positive implications in some of the regions who have  got the chance to expand their cultures and built societies, However, this change of climate might did not prove to be as helpful for every other society, especially with the cultures of underdeveloped nations. Most of the underdeveloped countries, reside in the Asian and African part of the landscape. These regions are experiencing massive climate change impacts on their cultures. As the temperature rise, there gets a bigger issue of cultivation, sowing and harvesting of crops. This calls for the food shortage, the food prices as well as the prices for most of the necessary household items surge. The hunger Is on the rise.  Poverty is accelerating. And even the basic necessities of life such as food and clothes are getting scarce.

According to David D.Zhang, 2007, a further analysis suggests that heat extreme temperatures have impeded agricultural production, which brought about a series of serious social problems, including price inflation, then successively war outbreak, and famine. The findings suggest that worldwide and synchronistic war–peace, population, and price cycles in recent centuries have been driven mainly by long-term climate change. All this and much more are the climate change implications of cultural change. If the climate of the world archeological sites is not mitigated in a proper way, it could cause havocs to the world cultural heritage. As it already shows from the change in clothing patterns, cropping, staple foods, building designs, employment opportunities, and local habitats.

(The author is an Environment and Climate Change Scientist, Pickering, Ontario, Canada)