Nav: Home

Technology and innovation not driven by climate change

September 01, 2016

This is the news of a ground-breaking study recently published in the open access journal PLOS ONE. Professor Christopher S. Henshilwood and Postdoctoral Fellow Karen L. van Niekerk from the Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion at the University of Bergen (UiB) are among the co-authors of the paper. The lead author is Patrick Roberts, from the University of Oxford.

Henshilwood and his co-authors have looked at climatic proxies relative to technological development in the Middle Stone Age of southern Africa. This represents a period of dramatic innovation in terms of subsistence, cultural and technological practices among the humans of the age.

No direct link found to climate change

Up until now climate change has frequently been considered a primary driver of innovation in the Stone Age in South Africa. Putting this theory to the test, however, the researchers found that remarkable cultural and technological innovations seen in the sites in South Africa cannot be linked directly to climate shifts.

"While acknowledging that climate and environmental shifts may have influenced human subsistence strategies, the research suggests climate change may not have been the driving factor behind cultural and technological innovations in these localities and encourage context-specific evaluation of the role of climate change in driving early human experimentation," says Henshilwood.

Studying animal remains

As part of the study the researchers analysed animal remains from two sites in South Africa's southern Cape, Blombos Cave and Klipdrift Shelter. The samples were from 98,000 to 59,000 years ago.

According to Henshilwood and van Niekerk, stable carbon and oxygen isotopes from ostrich eggshell may reflect vegetation and water consumption of the animal during its lifetime.

"Studying these animal remains - ostrich eggshell isotopes, along with shellfish and terrestrial fauna - we were able to consider the climatic and environmental variation in this region during the Middle Stone Age and put the climate as driver for innovation theory to a test," says van Niekerk.

How early humans absorbed changes

They found that a number of different resources allowed human populations to absorb the changes to the climate that occurred at the time.

"Climate change alone cannot explain why innovation takes place and our research shows that innovation is not dependent on climatic and environmental instability," Henshilwood points out.

"Our research points to the fact that changes in long-distance contact, socio-cultural interactions and population movements may be just as important, or more important, for innovation as environmental drivers," says van Niekerk.
-end-
The research was conducted by a team of researchers from universities in Norway, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The University of Bergen

Related Climate Change Articles:

The black forest and climate change
Silver and Douglas firs could replace Norway spruce in the long run due to their greater resistance to droughts.
For some US counties, climate change will be particularly costly
A highly granular assessment of the impacts of climate change on the US economy suggests that each 1°Celsius increase in temperature will cost 1.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product, on average.
Climate change label leads to climate science acceptance
A new Cornell University study finds that labels matter when it comes to acceptance of climate science.
Was that climate change?
A new four-step 'framework' aims to test the contribution of climate change to record-setting extreme weather events.
It's more than just climate change
Accurately modeling climate change and interactive human factors -- including inequality, consumption, and population -- is essential for the effective science-based policies and measures needed to benefit and sustain current and future generations.
Climate change scientists should think more about sex
Climate change can have a different impact on male and female fish, shellfish and other marine animals, with widespread implications for the future of marine life and the production of seafood.
Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior
A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska's most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.
Uncertainties related to climate engineering limit its use in curbing climate change
Climate engineering refers to the systematic, large-scale modification of the environment using various climate intervention techniques.
Public holds polarized views about climate change and trust in climate scientists
There are gaping divisions in Americans' views across every dimension of the climate debate, including causes and cures for climate change and trust in climate scientists and their research, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
The psychology behind climate change denial
In a new thesis in psychology, Kirsti Jylhä at Uppsala University has studied the psychology behind climate change denial.

Related Climate Change Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...