In the recent issue of Imponderabilia Heid Jerstad criticizes the lack of anthropological research on climate change. Climate change is only present on the margins of anthropological research, Jerstad claims. A similar critique was formulated by Simon Batterbury in his article Anthropology and global warming: the need for environmental engagement.
But several climate anthropologists have been in the news recently. In an interview with the Borneo Post, anthropologist Bob Pokrant addresses climate change in Borneo. To tackle the climate change issue, he proposed using the ‘adaption approach’ instead of the ‘mitigation approach’:
By mitigation, we mean reducing the sources of greenhouse effect. By adaption, we mean recognising that climate change is happening and then work out a programme to reduce the social vulnerability of those affected. We have to empower the people to take the future in their own hands. In countries affected by climate change most, their people’s capacity to adapt must be built up.
Fight global warming ‘with traditional methods’, urged Pietro Laureano. architect, town planer and anthropologist. Traditional water management methods from the Sahara and Ethiopia and Iraq’s Babylon area could be used alongside newer technologies such as solar power to prevent desertification and energy wastage. See also interview with Laureano and his paper Traditional Techniques of Water Management a New Model for a Sustainable Town and Landscape. From the First Water Harvesting Surfaces to Paleolithic Hydraulic Labyrinths.
Environmental anthropologist Kenny Broad was interviewed by Hawaii 24/7. As an anthropologist “his focus is bridging the physical and social aspects of science, specifically the human-environment relationship along coastlines and the impacts of climate change.”
A few weeks ago, Susan Crate’s research on climate change in Siberia was presented. On her website lots of papers can be downloaded, for example the most recent one Bull of Winter? Grappling with the Cultural Implications of and Anthropology’s Role(s) in Global Climate Change (pdf). Together with Marc Nuttall, she edited the book Anthropology and Climate Change. From Encounters to Actions. See also interview with Nuttall on CBC News “Human face of climate change: Weather out of its mind”.
At the University of Copenhagen, anthropologist Kirsten Hastrup is the leader of the interdisciplinary climate change research project Waterworlds. In an interview, she explains the relevance of historical anthropology for today’s climate change.
See also Climate Change and Small Island Developing States: A Critical Review by Ilan Kelman and Jennifer J. West (Ecological and Environmental Anthropology, Vol 5, No 1 (2009)) and Waterworld1: the heritage dimensions of ‘climate change’ in the Pacific by Rosita Henry and William Jeffery as well as information about climate refugees and my earlier post Why Siberian nomads cope so well with climate change. For even more literature see Bibliography for the anthropology of climate change.