[pccgrads] Schneider (UC Boulder) on "Coupled environmental and social influences on the development of political instability in the Middle East: A longue durée perspective." Fri 3/4 at 4:30

UW PCC uwpcc at u.washington.edu
Tue Mar 1 08:28:38 PST 2016

Please join us for the Friday Afternoon Archaeology Lecture Series (FAALS) talk this week:

Friday March 4, 2016, 4:30pm. Condon Hall, rm. 110A

"Coupled environmental and social influences on the development of political instability in the Middle East: A longue durée perspective."

Dr. Adam Schneider (Postdoctoral Fellow at CIRES, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at University of Colorado, Boulder).


Abstract: During the past two years, an increasing number of scholars and other public figures have advanced the argument that human-made climate change is a leading cause of the instability and violence that has wracked large portions of the Middle East since 2011. However, social factors must also be considered a powerful influence upon the trajectory of these events. We must look to the articulation of both social and environmental factors in order to trace the connections between climate change and political upheaval in this volatile and important part of the world. In this presentation, I will argue that one way to better understand the complex causality of political turmoil in the contemporary Middle East – and the potential role of climate change within it – is to study how a series of coupled social and environmental factors have shaped similar periods of tumult in the region’s past. Using two case studies as examples, I will endeavor to show that reconstructing the causal mechanisms of historical collapse events can provide new insights about the dynamics of coupled human-environmental systems in the region, and thus help us to better understand if and how climate change may have served as a destabilizing influence during the present regional crisis.

Dr. Schneider is an archaeologist and paleoclimatologist, whose research focuses on assessing the influences of environmental and cultural factors upon the decline and/or political collapse of past societies in the Near East, with a particular emphasis on the Tigris-Euphrates watershed region (colloquially known as “Greater Mesopotamia”). At CIRES, he is working with other scholars in the Environmental Observations, Modeling and Forecasting and Sold Earth Sciences divisions to develop a database system that will bring together environmental, archaeological, and historical data to assist in assessing the relative impact of specific causal factors in instances of political collapse.

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