a number of recent paleoenvironmental studies have argued that abrupt changes in climate have been the primary cause for societal collapse. Many social scientists, including anthropologists and environmental historians, reject environmental explanations as deterministic and overly simplistic. they argue that socio-political decisions contribute to environmental change and that efforts to study societal vulnerability within a human-environment system must include analysis of complex social structures. there is a gap in our understanding of how past societies responded to climate change because there are very few interdisciplinary studies that integrate both physical and behavioral sciences in paleoenvironmental reconstructions. While there is a general sense that modern societies are more insulated than pre-industrial societies from the effects of climate change, this may not prove to be true. a more complete understanding of how both natural and human-caused changes have affected the environment in the past can potentially guide decisions aimed at promoting future sustainability. here we present a project funded by the United States National science foundation that will explicitly integrate paleoenvironmental reconstruction with socioeconomic history in a local context to identify linkages between social and environmental change associated with climate variability.
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- Climate change
- Forest history
- Paleoenvironmental reconstruction
- Pollen analysis
- Societal collapse