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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 23, 2008

Philosophy of Environment

Thomas Heyd
Pages 45-52

Culture and Climate Change

Physical science is coming to an increasingly clear understanding of natural environmental changes, their causes and their effects on the landscape. Human beings have lived through significant climate variability in historical periods, and through repeated periods of relatively sudden climate change, as well as multiple other drastic natural events in prehistory. In this paper I propose that we should take into account the cultural dimension when considering adaptation to drastic natural events, such as powerful storms (hurricanes), whose intensity may grow as a result of climate change. I discuss an example of a cultural pattern that offers an alternative conception of natural processes to the mainstream of Western societies, and point out how such alternative conceptions of the human‐natural relationship also imply alternative value systems. I conclude that a deeper understanding of the cultural dimension of human responses to drastic natural events may be of significant value in the development of resilience to events of the sort that characterise climate change.

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