Scientist Ben Orlove discusses why it’s important to bring an anthropological dimension to the science of climate change and glacial retreat.
anthropology Archives - State of the Planet
Yak herders in the Himalayas are observing climate change in action, and it’s one of the factors threatening their way of life.
East Africa’s rift valley is considered by many to be the cradle of humanity. In the Turkana region of northwest Kenya, researchers Christopher Lepre and Tanzhuo Liu of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are cooperating with colleagues to study questions of human evolution, from the creation of the earliest stone tools to climate swings that have affected developing civilizations.
Who were our earliest ancestors? How and when did they evolve into modern humans? And how do we define “human,” anyway? Scientists are exploring Kenya’s Lake Turkana basin to help answer these questions.
Paleontologists Are Unzipping Our Genes
Recently, paleontologists have used genomics to delve into the lives of ancient humans. These studies have capitalized on futuristic techniques to reveal the genealogy, travel plans and sex lives of our ancestors.
How can the full range of the social sciences be brought into research on climate change and the search for solutions? The roles of economics and political science seem crucial, since pricing mechanisms and policies are needed to promote mitigation and to support adaptation. Psychology explores the ways to make this problem, often seen as distant and uncertain, stand out more prominently in human thinking and motivation. Sociology studies the variety of organizations, such as urban governments and consumer groups, which address climate change. Anthropology, though, might seem too remote, and too focused on traditional cultures or ancient civilizations, to have much to offer.