Historians to Climate Researchers: "Let's Talk"
John Haldon, project director of the Avkat Archaeological Project in Turkey and director of CCHRI, stands in the remains of a Byzantine citadel on a Turkish hillside. Photo courtesy of Princeton Avkat Archaeological Project
History can tell us a lot about environmental upheaval, according to Princeton history professor and PEI associated faculty John Haldon and alumnus Lee Mordechai. What is missing in today’s debate about climate change is using what we know about how past societies handled environmental stresses to help inform our own situation.
Developing policies to address the challenges of modern, global climate change requires understanding the science and the contemporary politics, as well as understanding how societies through history have responded to the climate changes they encountered.
In a paper published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Haldon, Mordechai and an international team of co-authors write that ours is not the first society to be confronted by environmental change. During the course of history, some societies have been destroyed by natural disasters, like the eruption of Pompeii, while others have learned how to accommodate floods, droughts, volcanic eruptions and other natural hazards.