5812 Understanding the Punctuated Equilibrium of Human-Climate-Environment Relationships

Sunday, February 19, 2012: 1:30 PM
Room 211 (VCC West Building)
Jago Cooper , University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom
The time depth of human experience is critical to understanding the dynamic relationship between climate variability, environmental change and societal development. This paper will provide results from two interdisciplinary research projects in the Pacific and Caribbean that have aimed to show how the long term study of human-climate-environment relationships can reveal important lessons for developing modern day mitigation strategies in the face of global change.  Key climatic and environmental hazards have been identified through regional studies in these two island archipelagos and their relative impacts upon past human communities have been assessed. Two focused case study projects in Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and Cuba have then explored the ways in which the divergent lifeways of past societies have provided varying levels of mitigation to these key climatic and environmental hazards.  This research reveals the relative success of different landscape management techniques, settlement locations, household architecture designs and food procurement strategies throughout the human occupation of these islands.   The key findings of this research provide important lessons for how human communities can develop multiple pathways to long-term sustainability in the face of accelerating global change.