Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Research Vol. 20 No. 2, 2010


Copyright © 2010 by the Center for Great Plains Studies. University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Weather Matters is a varied collection of everything sky and weather related, from history, to poetry and art, to the monitoring and impacts of weather-related natural hazards. Mergen states the book is “about the everyday experience of weather and the ways in which those experiences are perceived, marketed, and managed.” The volume is broken into five chapters focused on talking about, managing, seeing, transcribing, and suffering weather. “Talking about Weather” begins with a historical overview of “weather-bureau weather,” starting with the Congressional creation of a meteorological service administered by the U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1870 and ending with a brief introductory discussion of today’s National Weather Service (he expands on this discussion throughout the remaining chapters). In between, Mergen discusses a number of issues related to weather and forecasting. He claims weather in conversation is the “great equalizer”—it’s a safe topic, it allows everyone to be an expert, and it doesn’t require action because there’s nothing you can do about it. The chapter on “Managing Weather” includes topics as varied as wind and solar power; atmospheric pollution and the tragedy of the commons; the development and use of technology for monitoring and predicting weather; education; broadcast meteorology; and weather modification.