Identifying patterns in climate change

Humans like to focus a lot on patterns and recurring behavior. This is apparent in topics ranging from individual social patterns to global patterns concerning climate change. The “paleo diet,” for example, is meant to emulate a past diet in order to achieve a modern goal. However, this diet was last used thousands of years ago; making the dietary needs and bodily composition of modern day humans and paleolithic humans very different. Culture plays a heavy role in this phenomenon of looking to the past to find answers for modern day issues as opposed to learning about the past as a way of predicting future human and natural patterns. As seen in class, archeology extends far past the study of humans. Since the influence of humans on the climate is so intense, patterns developed by animals and the earth itself have been disrupted. Wildfires have destroyed forests and even archeological artifacts. (Image 1) In an article about changes concerning Yellowstone park, Staffan Peterson concludes that “Future work should, of course, include strengthening the science needed to better understand future events and ways to respond to them. At present we do not have the tools needed to choose the most appropriate management action when new impacts are likely.” Natural cycles have either been accelerated or made impossible to complete altogether. This goes back to the “paleo diet.” What is working as a short term solution is often mistaken as normal and unchangeable. Finding one piece of the past that we think could work for us now doesn’t account for the changing dietary needs of humans for example. Nick Stehr in his article “Trust and Climate” examines how social interactions affect our approach to climate change.  “One of the keys to understanding the social construct of climate is not accomplished by examining the semantics of “normal” climate, but rather by examining how climatic extremes are dealt with and explained by society.” The ideology of reaching a breaking point before needing to deal with something like climate change is a big issue. Additionally, with the way human behavior and culture has evolved now makes climate change and even dietary choices a very public and even political thing. Society is based upon patterns, rules, and consistency. Since our society has evolved into a greenhouse gas dependent one, it makes bigger societal change much more convoluted. 


Stehr, Nico. “Trust and Climate.” Climate Research 8, no. 3 (1997): 163–69.

Peterson, Staffan. “Archeology & Adaptation to Climate Change in Yellowstone.” VOLUME 26 ISSUE 1: ARCHEOLOGY IN YELLOWSTONE

IMAGE 2: Risk category change under historic and projected climate scenarios (acres). 

IMAGE 1: Left, unburned obsidian artifact, right, burned.

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