How humans have adapted to environmental change during history and pre-history

How humans have adapted to environmental change during history and pre-history






The communities around the world in the prehistoric and historic times did show some worry about the dangers of the sudden environmental changes that happen without caution. The depth of the dangers made the communities to develop various ways to mitigate and live with the catastrophe due to the environmental changes. Moreover, the diversity in the human culture across the world in the past thousand years is extraordinary; they lived in small groups like hunter-gathers to chiefdoms and other officials’ titles with many populations in the millions. The societies during these periods managed to adjust to the most of the environmental changes like the famine, drought, floods and other detrimental conditions with minimal difficulty because flexibility is built in adaptation in life. However, some environmental changes had a great magnitude that the society could not adopt by then but had to learn how to live with them and hence one of the strategies that they used to manage the problems. However, they managed to resilient through activities like the housing architecture despite the vulnerability of the community to the hazards like the floods (Mauch & Pfister, 2009).

The settlement locations

The choice of the place of settlement is a significant aspect in evading some environmental changes and to elevate from the risks of being endangered. Most of the people in the Central America moved to settle in the Kuril Island and the Caribbean because other nations were very much vulnerable to the environmental attacks like the floods and the whirlwind that had destroyed their houses and others structures (Endfield, 2007). The early settlement of the American people in the Iceland which was located on the side of the volcanic eruption was always vulnerable to the lava explosion which could sweep the whole community without any remedy to be done. The community suffered loss several times until they decided to relocate and move to the Kuril Islands and other places that were more secure and not vulnerable. The flexibility of the people was a factor of consideration to elevating the problem. Some communities began to move from one place to the other in search of a better place with minimal environmental challenges and could sustain them to live peacefully.

The area experienced some of the deadly volcanic eruptions that could lead to the death of some people and the destruction of properties. In the Kuris Island, thirty-two known active volcanos erupted in the last 300 years while twenty of them happened since the end of world war two. Despite the dangers of the volcanic eruption, there has been some fertility issue of the volcanic ash on the nearby farms and phytoplankton on the water. Due to these problems, it was difficult for the people around to vacate entirely from the area and hence some of them had to adopt and develop some strategies for staying in a sector that is very well prone to some issues like the volcanic eruption. The volcanic hazardous were tolerated by the maritime hunter-gathers through the known history (Mauch & Pfister, 2009).

The household architecture

The household structures in the communities are always designed in such a way to protect the people from some environmental risks. The hazards like the hurricane affected the society in the Central American due to their structures that were made of tree leaves and other plants that could not withstand the strength of the hurricane that would come and destroy the buildings leaving most of the people homeless. However, due to the presence of the environmental changes that could affect them, they managed to build stronger houses with some reinforcement to help withstand the hurricanes. The Al Salvadorians were staying in the grass thatched houses and which could not stand the effect of a hurricane and therefore the development of the brick houses architecture by the communities which could withstand the pressure of the storm. This kind of structures assisted the societies since they were now safe from the problems due to the influence of some environmental changes in the society (Endfield, 2007).

The food procurement strategies

The food procurement techniques are one of the most vulnerable elements in regards to the impacts of the sudden environmental change. Most of the environmental challenges in the global society have always seasonal, and perhaps remedies can be made with the bid to assist people of the Central America from the dangers that might be brought by the terrible weather conditions. The minor variations or the changes in the weather such as the seasonal rains in the area and the presence of frost, and can have a profound have the impact in the dependent human communities. Various crops were able to grow in different climatic conditions in the Central America and the Caribbean lands (Endfield, 2007).

Due to the constant changes in the environmental conditions in the regions, some staple crops could not be sustained by the conditions, and hence they failed to yield according to the expectations of the people. Therefore, due to the failure of crops from producing the expected results, the people in the Central America were then subjected and vulnerable to famine and hunger levels that could only be sustained by enough farming and supply of foods. The individuals in the region looked at various ways to manage the situation by looking at the crops that could grow in the varying environmental conditions within the areas (Boyer, Clark, Halttunen, Kett & Salisbury, 2016).

However, one of the important aspects about the food procurements strategies is perhaps in the way the Central American people often increase the medium to the long-term vulnerabilities by adopting the short term solutions to the immediate impact of the environmental hazards (Grattan & Torrence, 2016).  The people managed to create major relationships and among them, the social development, urbanization, vulnerabilities and the environmental degradation are important aspects which rely upon most in the permanence in the landscape, with the parallel evolution of the regional networks in the Central America. The crops grown at that time could sustain the change in environment, and therefore the people now were able to find something to eat despite the harsh climatic conditions that affected agriculture in the regions.

Moreover, the unpredictable changes in the weather and climate that have the ability to change the navigation process in the Island and the productivity of the marine environment in the region. The weather as indicated in these regions in the prehistoric time represents the daily to annual pressure of the atmospheric conditions especially as they interact with the sea surface and the marine currents available along the sea to produce the changing fogs and the sea currents. The currents are hazardous in the oceanic landscape and could easily lead to an accident due to the fact inability of the people to see the far horizon on the other side. Therefore, the individuals in the region had to adapt to the changes. Most of them new that the condition would not last forever and thus one day especially during the summer time, the frost and the fogs will disappear due to the shift in temperature and other factors that could not allow the formation of the mist (Alexander, 2013).

Other adaptation on the environmental changes

The other factors area the presence of the earthquakes and tsunamis in the regions. The area has some cases of earthquakes due to the presence of the seismic sites in the area hence rending the place vulnerable to for the attack by the seismic waves in the region. Most of the people in the area were living in the single-story aboveground log structures that were very vulnerable to the localized landslides in the areas which made the people move and settle upwards on the side of the mountain. However, the research carried out in the region showed that the constant tsunami in the area did not have a broad impact on the human settlement. The study indicated that despite the continued presence of the Tsunami in the region, the people were still staying in the area along the central island during the late Holocene. Consequently, the people also adapted in other parts and they responded by building along the high terraces and more safe places that did not have the presence or perhaps any sigh of being affected by the earthquakes (Grattan & Torrence, 2016).


Most of the changes in the environment globally have always demanded something different or perhaps a different reaction to try and navigate the change process. The people of Kuril Island in the Central America adapted differently to the changes in the environmental situations in the region. The environmental changes like drought, earthquakes, the volcanic eruption and others, affected the area through the loss of lives and more so the destruction of properties. The have to respond differently to the changes in society through a building of structures that could withstand the pressure of the Hurricane that could sweep their properties (Berrang, Ford, & Paterson, 2011).


Alexander, D. E. (2013). Resilience and disaster risk reduction: an etymological journey. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 13(11), 2707-2716.

Berrang-Ford, L., Ford, J. D., & Paterson, J. (2011). Are we adapting to climate change?. Global environmental change, 21(1), 25-33.

Boyer, P. S., Clark, C. E., Halttunen, K., Kett, J. F., & Salisbury, N. (2016). The enduring vision: A history of the American people. Cengage Learning.

Endfield, G. H. (2007). Archival explorations of climate variability and social vulnerability in colonial Mexico. Climatic Change, 83(1-2), 9.

Grattan, J., & Torrence, R. (Eds.). (2016). Living under the shadow: cultural impacts of volcanic eruptions. Routledge.

 Mauch, C., & Pfister, C. (Eds.). (2009). Natural disasters, cultural responses: case studies toward a global environmental history. Lexington Books.

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