Rural History 2015

Panel 13

Organizers: Martin, John (1); Bowen, James (2); Stead, David (3)

Affiliation: 1: De Montfort University, United Kingdom; 2: Liverpool University; 3: University College Dublin

Title: The impact of extreme weather events on farming and the countryside with special reference to the twentieth century.

In an age of potential global warming and increasing international food insecurity, research into the impact of previous instances of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, storm events and unusually high or low temperatures has received little consideration by rural and agricultural historians. This is in stark contrast to the research being undertaken into this topic by countries such as India and the United States, and by European historians researching fluctuations in economic activity and social dislocation.
Investigating the impact of weather extremes is particularly opportune in the light of official publications, which predicts that, in the foreseeable future, Britain and Europe will experience more frequent droughts, floods and storm damage. By 2040, it is anticipated that summers in southern England are likely to be, on average, 2οC hotter than at present, accompanied by a 20 percent drop in summer rainfall. Such forecasts are supported by the fact that, globally, the hottest ten years on record have all occurred since 1990.
The case studies constituting this panel will have implications for policy makers concerned with balancing the needs of agricultural production with those of stakeholders with environmental or ecological aims. A wide-range of source material is now available to historians interested in assessing the historical significance of weather extremes with regard to farming and the countryside, a full evaluation of which will provide the opportunity to avoid the inevitable tendency towards environmental or economic determinism.



Chair: John Martin, De Montfort University Leicester, UK.

Paper 1: The International Crisis of the 1970s the impact of the weather

John Martin, De Montfort University Leicester, UK

Paper 2: The impact of the extreme winter of 1963 on farming and the countryside of Britain

James P. Bowen, University of Liverpool, UK

Paper 3: The impacts of extreme weather events on Irish agriculture during the mid-1970s.

David R. Stead, University College Dublin, Republic of Ireland


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015