Weatherlore and belief in the time of climate change

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Weatherlore documents the folklore of the environment and human interactions with it, from red skies at night predicting fine weather to small talk about an especially wet summer. Climate change, however, while global, has shifted how humans engage with and make sense of their weather locally. Seeking to document this phenomenon, a colleague and I began to collect articles for a book on weatherlore in the age of climate change in early 2020. Nearly half of the articles submitted centered on religion, religious belief, and faith. Authors probed the division in how climate change is understood in American evangelicalism, considered how weather events were construed as divine retribution, and examined how climate change has affected the teaching of religious scripture to children in Ireland. Even the way that most of us in the west interact with our daily weather forecast suggests a relationship centered on belief. While forecasting the weather may be defined as a scientific paradigm and methodology, its listed synonyms suggest something else: augury, prediction, soothsaying. Using Marilyn Motz’s understanding of belief as process, this paper queries why – why, in an age of scientific rationalism, of university degrees in meteorology, is human understanding of climate in the west tied so closely to belief and religion?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIEF2021 15th Congress
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2021


  • weather
  • ethnology


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