Culture, political, economy decide society’s future in changing climate crises, researchers say



Researchers at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna have found that the outcomes of a changing climate crisis are determined by a combination of cultural, political, and economic factors, rather than solely environmental forces. They came to this conclusion after studying 150 past crises and analyzing the Crisis Database (CrisisDB), which contains historical crises from different regions and time periods.


An interplay of cultural, political, and economic factors decides the course and outcomes of a “changing climate” crisis, and not environmental forces alone, researchers say. Drawing lessons from history, “not every ecological shock or climatic anomaly leads to collapse” and “not every crisis involves a major environmental stressor”, the researchers at the Complexity Science Hub Vienna, Austria, found.

They came to their conclusions after analysing 150 past crises spanning different time periods and regions, including the Zapotec hilltop settlement of Monte Alban in southern Mexico and the resilience of the Qing Dynasty in China and the Ottoman Empire.

The team compiled the Crisis Database (CrisisDB) as part of the Global History Databank Seshat, containing the past crises, and have published their findings in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B Biological Science.

In the 9th century, when faced with extreme, persistent drought, the once-great site of Monte Alban in southern Mexico, commanding the best terrain in the valley for agriculture and dense settlement, was entirely abandoned.

Recent research, however, showed that many former residents of Monte Alban, resettled in smaller communities nearby through an ideological and socio-economic reorientation, that also preserved many of their societal aspects, the researchers said in their study.