Date of Graduation

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Anthropology (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Anthropology

Advisor

Ted Swedenburg

Committee Member

Kirstin Erickson

Second Committee Member

George Sabo

Abstract

Icebergs are melting in the Arctic. The Gulf of Mexico is warming and producing hurricanes such as Katrina. The delta of the southern United States is drying. And, Yemen will be the first country in modern history to experience a lack of accessible ground water, as soon as 2017 possibly. Yemen's situation has been tracked by scholars and governments since the 1960s. Despite this fact, cities have expanded in Yemen and the population has increased its use of water while little has been invested in desalination or infrastructure to offset growth. Climate change has affected humans for thousands of years; but, in an age of rapid information flow, the conflicting narratives regarding water have stymied preparations for the impending crisis in Yemen. Although many analysts have predicted the failure of the state of Yemen based on civil unrest and increasing poverty, it is the change within the environment that promises to alter this historic culture which has survived numerous state entities. The growing presence of Al-Qaeda, a 40% unemployment rate, and a possible civil war between north and south all provide impetus for destabilization, yet the loss of ground water will alter this sedentary tribal area regardless of these other issues and ultimately change the society's structure. The entire globe will face climate change in the years to come and increasing tension regarding water resources. The narratives from Yemen provide insight into the dynamics of a society facing significant climate change, and the outside forces with which the society interacts.