Climate Change as (Dis)Equilibrium

Behavioral Resilience in the Greenlandic Arctic

Pelle Tejsner, Djuke Veldhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Evolutionary explanations for social phenomena are increasingly common in sociology and anthropology circles. The intersection where cultural change, human behavioral variation and adaptation research meet is complex and frequently subject to distortion or misunderstanding. In the popular press, Arctic populations in particular are often portrayed as cultures in crisis, unable to cope in the face of climate change. This study assesses the claim that there is a fundamental mismatch, or disequilibrium, between Arctic peoples and their environment. Utilizing ethnographic interviews with contemporary hunters and fishers from Disko Bay in northwest Greenland alongside archival Greenlandic Statbank data and peer-reviewed literature, we provide an overview of population-culture-environment interactions over time. The data confirm an environment that is constantly in flux, with corresponding human population boom and bust. However, humans are not passive receivers of this change nor are they blindly reacting to disequilibrium. Instead coping strategies are afforded by constantly shifting use of sociocultural knowledge, behavioural flexibility and a creative use of technological buffers. The extent of indigenous people’s ability to incorporate long-term on-going environmental perturbations, particularly in the context of global patterns of trade and industry, remains an open discussion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-715
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Ecology
Volume46
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Arctic
  • Climate change
  • Disko Bay
  • Equilibrium
  • Greenland
  • Human adaptation
  • Subsistence
  • Technology

Cite this

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Climate Change as (Dis)Equilibrium : Behavioral Resilience in the Greenlandic Arctic. / Tejsner, Pelle; Veldhuis, Djuke.

In: Human Ecology, Vol. 46, No. 5, 01.10.2018, p. 701-715.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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