Anthropologists proclaim climate change as a human problem, not a natural one


“Climate change is not a natural problem, it is a human problem” — that is the statement released today from a report by the American Anthropological Association (AAA).

The anthropological association adopted a strong and clear statement on Humanity and Climate Change. The statement, based on the final report of the Association’s Global Climate Change Task Force, reveals eight ways anthropologists attack the problems of climate change from an anthropological perspective.

The statement affirms that the global problem of climate change as rooted in social institutions and cultural habits. Solutions and social adaptations therefore require knowledge and insight from the social sciences and humanities. “Resilience and adaptation can be best addressed locally and regionally, by enabling communities to provide knowledge and social capital to construct viable solutions,” said task force member Ben Orlove, Ph.D. While climate change will have a global impact, the impact will fall unevenly; and as climate impacts intensify, public expenditures needed for emergency aid and restoration will escalate.

“Anthropologists focus on several aspects of climate change research that other scientists do not fully address, specifically the disproportionately adverse impacts on vulnerable populations, the extent to which our current challenges stem from culture and cultural choices on a societal level; and the value of the long record of human development and civilization that can inform our choices for the future,” said Shirley J. Fiske, Ph.D., Chair of the American Anthropological Association Global Climate Change Task Force.

Download the report

Download the statement

Q&A with Shirley Fiske