Environmental change—and climate change in particular—can have a diverse set of impacts on human health, longevity, and vulnerability to disease, both in contemporary populations and in the past. Evidence indicates that humans have been impacted by environmental and climatic shifts for millennia, starting with the origin of our genus in the Pleistocene, and continuing into the present day. In particular, environmental and climate change has primarily been associated with adverse health impacts caused by violence, famine and starvation, and undernutrition, including decreased adult stature and other signs of physiological disturbance, as well as elevated mortality, specifically for children (≤5 years). Based on human experiences gleaned from our historical past, current and future populations must anticipate profound threats to their health and increased vulnerability to disease. Within this complicated nexus, interdisciplinary bioarchaeological research that uses risk pathway thinking may prove especially useful for building a framework with which to understand modern biosocial vulnerabilities to climate and environmental change. This research can also be used to avoid the pitfalls of determinist thinking and misconceptions of human evolution and human nature as they shape responses to climate instability.