Cabot Institute public lecture: Climate and societies
Outline of Gerald's talk
A unifying theme in paleoclimate research is well summarized by a piece of advice that I once heard the late Sir Nicolas Shackleton give to an audience of paleoceanographers: “Whatever you do, do it in high resolution.”
The underlying message, I believe, is that much ‘noise’ in geologic records is actually composed of meaningful environmental signals.
A central goal is to use new approaches and techniques that do justice to the complexity of geologic records, in order to allow previously hidden signals to emerge.
On the Cenozoic timescale, the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) has provided key archives for detailed paleoclimate reconstructions.
Global climate has undergone a dramatic cooling, culminated by onset of major Northern Hemisphere Glaciation 2.7 million years ago.
On the millennial to subdecadal timescale, climate archives with an appropriate memory provided a growing body of evidence that suggests a strong relationship between climatically induced changes in environmental conditions and socio-political impacts, which we will discuss for the collaps of the Claasic Maya civilization and the evolution of Chinese dynasties.
We conclude that rate of climate change may be as important as mean climate for the socio-political impacts, as rapid change may more easily lead to disconnects between social policies and environmental realities - until today!