In this chapter, we examine the iconic disappearance of the Medieval Norse Greenlanders and use qualitative scenarios and counterfactual analysis to produce lessons for policymakers. We stress the role that archaeologists and historians have in adding context to contemporary social and environmental challenges and use human-environmental histories as ‘natural experiments’ with which to test scenarios. Rather than drawing direct analogies with discrete historical case studies such as Norse Greenland, such cases form complete experiments with which to ask ‘what if’ questions and learn from a range of real (retrofactual) and alternative (counterfactual) scenarios. By testing a range of scenarios associated with climate impacts and adaptive strategies, evidence from the past might be used to learn from unanticipated changes and build a better understanding of theory and concepts, including adaptation and vulnerability, and their application to the present. The Norse Greenland case study illustrates an important lesson for climate change adaptation scenarios; even a highly adaptive society can, over the course of several centuries, reach limits to adaptation when exposed to unanticipated social and environmental change.
|Navn||Risk, Systems and Decisions. Perspectives on Public Policy in Societal-Environmental Crises|