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Abstract

Culture, from an anthropological perspective, encompasses all learned and shared aspects of life in human societies. Included is not only ‘high culture’—the arts and literature—but also science, technology, and more practical, everyday activities and beliefs: how to plant a potato or pray for rain, to seek good luck in battle or on exams at school. Cultures are not static; they change in response to wars, plagues, new inventions—as well as to environmental and climate variability. Here we look at some of the ‘rules’ of culture, in order to explore the extent to which climate change seriously threatens cultural diversity. The most popular examples of climate change impacts on human societies focus on remote communities in the Arctic or on tropical islands, but we need to keep in mind that the fossil fuel dependent lifeways of those of us residing in the industrialized temperate zones are perhaps even more endangered, and certainly less sustainable. WIREs Clim Change 2012 doi: 10.1002/wcc.181

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