Building the World

Classical Greece: Climate Migration and Innovation



Classical Greece: inspiration for innovation. Image: wikimedia commons.

Greece may provide one of the first documented instances, in history, of innovation that may attend climate migration. When Thera, now Santorini, suffered prolonged drought, the oracle at Delphi advised pioneers to sail to the shores of Libya, where they discovered a spot known for moist climate. A sacred plant grew naturally on the fertile soil; some credit the herb sylphium in part for the creativity that soon sprouted. Measurement of the earth’s circumference, mechanics for doubling a cube, early research into prime numbers, even one of the first maps of the stars (thought to tally 675) were among the innovations. Cyrene flourished, growing into five cities. Perhaps influenced by experience and freedom, a new constitution was drafted, with expanded definitions of citizenship. Although options for relocation, in our times, may be different, climate refugees might take inspiration from Greece, source of great innovation.

For more:

Litwin, Evan T. “Climate Diaspora.” Master’s Thesis, McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, 2011.

Schultz, Colin. “Climate Change Is Already Causing Mass Human Migration,” Smithsonian Magazine, January 29, 2014.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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