How the Enga cope with frost: Responses to climatic perturbations in the Central Highlands of New Guinea
The adaptive strategy of a population of New Guinea highland subsistence farmers is considered in the light of events surrounding a series of severe frosts experienced in 1972. Coping with frost is seen to be a critical preoccupation for all Enga, and agricultural mounding a universal response, adequate to deal with the mild frosts of Central Enga country below 2250 m but insufficient above. There, among the Fringe Enga, a sequence of responses at three different levels may be identified. These may be called the local, intraregional, and extraregional levels because of their progressively wider geographical spread in agricultural activity and attendant increased population mobility. A correspondence is indicated between response level and frost intensity. This response, while effective, is being modified through cropping innovations and disrupted by a colonial situation. Further, at higher levels, it is incompatible with the prescribed course of political and economic development.