International Approaches to Climate Change and Cultural Heritage

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2017. International Approaches to Climate Change and Cultural Heritage. American Antiquity, 82 (4), 627-641


Anthropogenic climate change is increasingly threatening cultural heritage; cultural resource managers, communities, and archaeologists are confronting this reality. Yet the phenomenon is happening over such a wide range of physical and sociocultural contexts that it is a problem that is too big for any one organization or discipline to tackle. Therefore the sharing of best practices and examples between the communities dealing with this problem is essential. This article presents examples from communities, cultural resource managers, and archaeologists who are engaging with climate change based threats to cultural heritage. Our presentation of these international activities follows the US National Park Service (NPS) four-pillar approach to climate change threats to cultural heritage, which is that there are four primary components to climate change response: science, mitigation, adaptation, and communication. We discuss this approach and then present a number of cases in which communities or institutions are attempting to manage cultural heritage threatened by climate change through these four pillars. This article restricts itself to examples that are taking place outside of the USA and concludes with some general recommendations for both archaeologists and funding entities.