Date of Award

Spring 6-10-2015

Document Type

Honors Project

University Scholars Director

Dr. Jeff Keuss

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Eric Long

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Kathleen Braden


Climate Change, Geography, Alaska, Maldives, Netherlands, Culture



Research has established the phenomenon of cultural annihilation: the notion that the members of cultures can perceive a sense of loss when the geography upon which their culture is built undergoes a dramatic destructive change. This review examines prevailing literature to uncover existing and expected ways that climate change will impact cultures, specifically damaging the shared history that is infused into the geographic traits that make up a culture’s homeland. It examines three case studies - Native American tribes in Alaska, the island nation of the Maldives, and the country of the Netherlands – to highlight vulnerabilities that these three cultures face due to global climate change, finding that vulnerability to cultural annihilation from changes in geography due to climate change depend on three key factors. These factors relate to the way that a culture developed in response to its geographic homeland, the specific geographic niches of a culture’s ecological and environmental conditions, and the ability of a society to protect itself through financial means. This review concludes by examining the need for better understandings of our cultural geography and the ways in which cultures are able to adapt to a changing biosphere.


A project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the University Scholars Program.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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