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The 20th century has witnessed the general disappearance of the two: figures who, for more than a thousand years, have represented a direct human relationship to the weather, namely the agricultural worker and the sailor. For most people living in the West, the weather no longer determines, and barely even modifies, daily behaviour beyond changes in clothing or mood. Weather-proof shelters and weather-isolated work and leisure activities have contributed to making the weather an event to be watched and contemplated from the safety of the home. We might even say that our very modernity has been achieved in direct relationship to our increasing ability to control weather by keeping it away from our day-to-day life. Nation states produce their identities, in part, through the measure of the extremities in their weather, and the way in which their populations have survived despite of and even because of these. So, rather economically, England is wet, Russia is cold; Texas is hot and the Sahara is dry. New World stoicism is achieved, of course, by being able to survive atmospheric conditions of almost every type (the war in the Balkans can easily be knocked off the front page by tornadoes in the Dakotas).

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