Impact: The Effect of Climatic Change on Prehistoric and Modern Cultures in Texas (First Progress Report)

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Joel D. Gunn, Lecturer (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The pages of this report contain an assortment of materials which reflect the status of climatic change studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The effort is interdisciplinary, drawing on'the talents of persons trained in geography, prehistory, anthropology, and mathematics and other fields. The goals of the project include (1) efforts to understand how prehistoric and modern economies respond to significant climatic changes and (2) the application of such understanding to our own time and nation. Long-term climatic change as an important factor in the everyday life of 20th century people is a relatively recent issue. With notable exceptions, attitudes toward climate during the last century have been fostered by increasingly warmer and more comfortable winters, longer growing seasons and consequently higher agricultural productivity. Only in the last decade have the energy crisis and increasingly severe winters combined to create a general public awareness of the instability of global climate. Public awareness has risen to the point that there is a best-selling book on the topic, entitled CZimates of Hunger by Bryson and Thomas. One can hardly open a newspaper today without seeing an article on the impact of climates. By contrast, prehistorians are often brought face-to-face with evidence of cataclysmic climatic shifts. The climatic concerns expressed in the following pages originated out of prehistoric archaeology where climatic change is often a direct mechanism affecting cultural change. For instance, an article Wenland and Bryson published in the journal Quaternary Research demonstrates that most of the prehistoric cultures identified by archaeologists started and ended during recognized periods of radical climatic change. Although our research interests started with prehistory, we very soon widened the scope to include problems of modern climatic change. The reason was that ideas which explain prehistoric relationships between climate and culture are, at least in part, most easily tested by examining weather data carefully collected by the weather services of various nations over the last few years. The realization that the past could be studied through the present, and vice-versa, eventually led to expanded research into historic and modern records for climatic patterns. Also, our sense of the usefulness of these efforts has grown. In the context of a growing demand for practical applications from all fields of research, we feel that our research will lead to a better understanding of the climatic forces affecting our own times, and to direct assistance to those responsible for planning our future national needs.

Additional Information

University of Texas- San Antonio Center for Archaeological Research Special Publication. (2,6)
Language: English
Date: 1979
climatic change studies, response to climate change, economies, prehistory, modern climate change

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