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Open Access Publications from the University of California

World Cultures eJournal

UC Irvine

Introduction: Primary Food Producers, Climate Change, and Cultural Models of Nature


Climate change is one of the most challenging issues we collectively face insofar as it threatens the survival of our species. Before long, extensive action will have to be implemented worldwide to minimize its potential and disastrous effects (such actions have already been initiated in the last two decades). The populations keenly aware of and most at risk from the effects of climate change are obviously those whose livelihood depends on daily contact with the changing physical environment. Primary food producers best represent these populations: farmers, fishermen, herders, and hunter-gatherers. Of course all humans are at risk and we will eventually be obliged to change our behavior to make our presence on the planet sustainable (see Moran, 2006, 2010). However, primary food producers’ daily and close contact with the environment makes them most directly affected by climate change. Besides, they will likely be asked to implement whatever new and/or radical remedial policies are proposed. Before carrying out any strategies directly impacting these populations, it would be prudent to understand their Cultural Models (from now on, CMs) of Nature.

Scholars, policy makers, and lay individuals who actively conduct research on and pursue solutions to climate change, a challenging species-survival issue, should benefit from the articles included in this Special Issue. The research results can foster sound policies not only based on de-contextualized scientific notions, but grounded in the local knowledge of the people directly responsible for adopting changes and possibly helping to create solutions.

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