The Societal Impacts of Climate Anomalies During the Past 50,000 Years and their Implications for Solastalgia and Adaptation to Future Climate Change

37 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2020

See all articles by Edward P. Richards

Edward P. Richards

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

The earth is warming, local climates are changing, and the weather is becoming more extreme. These changes will continue until the level of greenhouses gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere is significantly reduced. Even if the levels of GHGs are reduced to pre-industrial levels, it will take decades to centuries for the climate to stabilize and return to current conditions. Within broad ranges, mathematical climate models can predict likely future climate scenarios as defined by metrological parameters – how hot, how wet, how dry – and the physical impact of future sea level rise scenarios. The behavior of individuals and communities is less susceptible to predictive modeling than are climate systems. modeling of the climate. For example, while people in high-risk flood zones might be expected to want to move to less dangerous areas, complex personal and societal factors make many un-willing to move. One way to better understand how people will respond to future climate change threats is to look at behavior during previous times of climate change.

This paper will first review the cultural basis for understanding climate and the mechanisms for climate impacts on society. The next section will look at the past impacts climate change and anomalies made on society. The third section will look at the special case of the effects of future warming, which are unprecedented for humans. The final section will look at a unique problem of modern climate change — the availability of climate science and climate models that allow us to anticipate the future impacts of climate change rather than only learning about them as they happen. This creates the unique new mental health risk of prospective fear of loss of place — the worry that you will suffer a climate-related catastrophe or will have to migrate in the future. This concept has been termed solastalgia, which combines solacium (solace), nostos (return home), and algos (pain) to represent the emotional state of people whose sense of place is being destroyed because their environment is being destroyed.

Keywords: climate change, paleoclimate, law, solastalgia, migration, psychology

JEL Classification: k32, I31, E64, Z13, Z18, Q54, E23

Suggested Citation

Richards, Edward P., The Societal Impacts of Climate Anomalies During the Past 50,000 Years and their Implications for Solastalgia and Adaptation to Future Climate Change (2018). Houston Journal of Health Law and Policy, Vol. 18, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3510319 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3510319

Edward P. Richards (Contact Author)

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge - Paul M. Hebert Law Center ( email )

440 Law Center Building
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
United States

HOME PAGE: http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/

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