Culture and Resilience

  • Ryan P. Harrod
  • Debra L. Martin
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Anthropology book series (BRIEFSANTHRO)


Understanding the reciprocal relationship between humans and their environment is critical for being able to offer alternatives to the assumption that climate change and global warming will bring about increased levels of aggression and violence. Predicting what humans will do in a wide range of environments practicing different subsistence activities is challenging, but it also provides more information on what humans have actually done in situations of severe resource depletion. Anthropological studies provide a more robust and applicable way of approaching how humans respond to changes in the environment. Without incorporating the cultural and historical context, the research currently being used to examine the future impact of climate change relies on environmental determinism and crime statistics, both of which are problematic data sets to apply universally to all groups. Innovation, mitigation, migration, and violence are all possible responses that human groups may adopt when faced with extreme shifts in the climate. If groups under extreme stress do nothing, they may die of famine in the form of starvation, dehydration, prolonged malnutrition, or disease. While it is unlikely that humans will do nothing and succumb to starvation when faced with extreme resource stress, the reality is that famine and malnutrition are still very real consequences. Climate change can lead to people working together, seeking out resources, going to war with their neighbors, or simply failing to thrive in the environment. The important point is that there is a range of documented responses to severe climate change from past and historic groups.


Culture Climate change Adaptation Mitigation Migration Violence 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan P. Harrod
    • 1
  • Debra L. Martin
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Alaska AnchorageAnchorageUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Nevada Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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