Climate challenges, vulnerabilities, and food security

Research Highlight

Impact of climate-related disasters depends on food security

© Jan Speiser/EyeEm/Getty

© Jan Speiser/EyeEm/Getty

The fate of ancient communities in the wake of climate-related catastrophes could offer clues about future disaster management.

An international team, including City University of New York researchers, examined the impact of food security in seven ancient cultures on their recovery from a climate-related event.

Four pre-Columbian regions in the American Southwest deserts were compared with three sub-polar North Atlantic islands during Norse occupation. By looking at a range of social and environmental factors the team showed communities that were food secure, fared better after a climate-related challenge.

They found food vulnerability was caused by social factors such as limitations on networks and mobility rather than the quantity of food available to the community.

The researchers say because the results are consistent across cultures and time they suggest ways to deal with future climate-related catastrophes. In particular, they highlight the “critical need” to reduce vulnerabilities to food shortages as part of effective disaster management.

  1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 113, 298-303 (2016). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1506494113
Institutions FC WFC
ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC), United States of America (USA) 0.31 0.31
Department of Anthropology, CUNY Hunter College, United States of America (USA) 0.17 0.17
Danish Middle Ages and Renaissance, Denmark 0.11 0.11
National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), United States of America (USA) 0.06 0.06
Transport for London, United Kingdom (UK) 0.06 0.06
Department of Anthropology, UMCP, United States of America (USA) 0.06 0.06
Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Stirling, United Kingdom (UK) 0.06 0.06
UTA Department of Sociology and Anthropology, United States of America (USA) 0.06 0.06
School of GeoSciences, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom (UK) 0.06 0.06
Department of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom (UK) 0.06 0.06
ASU Barrett, the Honors College, United States of America (USA) 0.03 0.03

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