Reducing the future to climate: A story of climate determinism and reductionism

Mike Hulme

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

321 Citations (Scopus)


This article traces how climate has moved from playing a deterministic to a reductionist role in discourses about environment, society, and the future. Climate determinism previously offered an explanation, and hence a justification, for the superiority of certain imperial races and cultures. The argument put forward here is that the new climate reductionism is driven by the hegemony exercised by the predictive natural sciences over contingent, imaginative, and humanistic accounts of social life and visions of the future. It is a hegemony that lends disproportionate power in political and social discourse to model-based descriptions of putative future climates. Some possible reasons for this climate reductionism, as well as some of the limitations and dangers of this position for human relationships with the future, are suggested.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-266
Number of pages22
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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