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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 .

Does the Weather Really Matter? The Social Implications of Climate Change
William James Burroughs.

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1997).
230pp. Index. Bibl.
Pb.: 16.95; ISBN 0-521-56126-4.

This book claims to provide a balanced and accessible analysis of the current debate on climatic change including global warming. More specifically, it claims to map the impact of extreme weather events on all aspects of human society. It does so by seeking to answer at least three questions. First, what has been the real impact of past weather extremes (e.g. cold winters, droughts, floods, heatwaves and hurricanes) on historic events? Second, is the frequency and impact of weather extremes changing? Third, can we predict future changes in climate and what will be the consequences of these changes? Combining a historical and predominantly economical perspective, together with meteorological data, the book indeed provides a basis for interpreting what is known about climatic change and the ability to forecast future changes and their economic and some political consequences. However, the claim that "all aspects of human society" are covered is an exaggeration because we find nothing on intimate and other social relations, group dynamics, ethno-linguistic issues, and overarching culture.

Evert Van de Vliert, University of Groningen, Netherlands

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