Climate change fostered cultural dynamics of human resilience in Europe in the past 2500 years

David D. ZHANG, Qing PEI, Harry F. LEE, Chi Yung JIM, Guodong LI, Mandy ZHANG, Jinbao LI, Zhifeng WU, Leibin WANG, Ricci P.H. YUE, Shengda ZHANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Humans possess limited knowledge on what generated cultural dynamics to strengthen human resilience to overcome climate-induced stresses. Although the highly developed mental ability of humans could have enabled significant human resilience in history, no study has empirically explained or has even scientifically confirmed how and when such dynamics arose. To fill the current research gap, this study therefore explores the associations among climatic conditions, the evolutional dynamics of human thinkers and their thoughts, and human ecological–socioeconomic conditions in the past 2500 years in Europe. Results from quantitative modellings and causal analyses confirm that climatic–ecological stresses led to human ecological–socioeconomic crises, and thereby dramatically increased twice of the thinkers' number and their thoughts' impact across different philosophies in truth, knowledge, and ethics for adaptation at multi-decadal to centennial temporal scales, especially in spirituality oriented mentality. The process of the stress-generated cultural dynamics displays some similarities with the stress-induced mutagenesis in organism evolution. Ultimately, climatic–ecological stresses prompt the escalation in the number of thinkers and impacts of their thoughts and flourishing of philosophy. Such stress-regenerated cultural dynamics imply that the current climate change threat may stimulate another thriving phase of cultural selection and lift humans to the next homeostatic plateau of civilization. Findings also extend the cognate scope of psychological, sociological, and civilization studies. Copyright © 2020 Published by Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Article number140842
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online dateJul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


Zhang, D. D., Pei, Q., Lee, H. F., Jim, C. Y., Li, G., Zhang, M., . . . Zhang, S. (2020). Climate change fostered cultural dynamics of human resilience in Europe in the past 2500 years. Science of the Total Environment, 744. Retrieved from


  • Climate change
  • Cultural dynamics
  • Resilience
  • Human ecological-socio-economic conditions
  • Europe


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