FARMINGTON — The past offers both a cautionary and promising tale for people studying climate change.
The danger and hope is in archeological evidence and how people respond to it, said Luke Kellett, University of Maine at Farmington sustainability coordinator, during a talk Wednesday at the college.
The presentation was the first in a two-month series at UMF designed to bring students and the community together to explore evidence of climate change, its role in politics and people’s responsibilities in responding to it.
Kellett said archeologists use direct and indirect signs as evidence of climate change.
He said some direct signs are changes in available clean water, evidence of fewer wild plants and animals, and reduced agricultural and pastoral activity.
People also left indirect evidence of climate change through increased conflict and warfare, abandoned cities and changes in disease rates, he said.
These past populations had three options when responding their changing environment, he said. They could move from their region, stay and adapt to the change, or die out.
The change we are facing is different from past periods because of its large scale, he said. Previous periods affected regions, not the entire globe, and some people but not the entire population.
While facing the large-scale issue, Kellett said, people can gain hope that climate change does not happen overnight and it is not too late to make changes. If people look to past populations who survived periods of change, they realize we’ve adapted successfully before and can adapt successfully again, he said.
“We wouldn’t be sitting here if we didn’t survive,” he said.
People today aren’t passively adapting to change, he said, but have the knowledge to actively try to affect climate change.
“We have much reason to believe we’ll successfully adapt,” he said.
Senior Jade Wells said the talk surprised her and she is glad it gave a message of hope and a possibility of change.
“It’s rare to see people of science be so optimistic,” she said.
The next part of the series, called “State of the Planet, Intergenerational Justice and Our Collective Future” will be presented at 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday at the Lincoln Theatre at UMF. The installment, “Economic and Political Hurdles,” will feature the film “Climate of Doubt” and a discussion afterward.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252