Understand the Past to Combat Adverse Effect of Climate Change

by Savitha C Muppala on  May 30, 2009 at 12:01 AM Environmental Health   - G J E 4
 Understand the Past to Combat Adverse Effect of Climate Change
The best way to combat the adverse impact of climatic change is to learn from past experiences, scientists said.

The international study involves researchers from Britain, Cuba and Canada.

According to Dr Jago Cooper, of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, "Populations in the Caribbean, from 5000 BC to AD 1492, successfully lived through a 5m rise in relative sea levels, marked variation in annual rainfall and periodic intensification of hurricane activity."

"This research examines the archaeological lessons that can inform current responses to the impacts of climate change in the Caribbean. I have examined the relationship between long and short-term effects of climate change and past human engagement with the geographical, ecological and meteorological consequences," he added.

"A key focus of the research has been to investigate past mitigation of the impacts of climate change through the analysis of changes in settlement structures, food procurement strategies and household architecture," he further added.

The study is part of a long term project, begun in 1997, that includes a wide-ranging study of archaeological and paleoenvironmental data.

Key to the research has been to understand how the past can inform the future.

"We have acquired archaeological information that has then been closely correlated in space and time with the long and short-term impacts of climate change," said Dr Cooper.

"It has then been possible to evaluate the relative advantages and disadvantages of past cultural practices in the face of environmental change and establish lessons that will contribute to contemporary mitigation strategies," he added.

Dr Cooper warns that modern settlements are more at risk of flooding because they are constructed in more vulnerable places.

In fact, indigenous settlement locations over water could make homes less at risk of flooding as floodwater could flow beneath the homes and inland rather than pour into the houses.

This ongoing research has looked at past mitigation strategies, assessed how pre-Colombian settlements were located close to cave complexes that acted as refuges during times of past hurricanes, and how the architecture of homes were constructed from local resources allowing people to rebuild them easily upon their return.

It also reveals how local populations diversified their food production to mitigate against resource scarcity.

Source: ANI

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