Concerns about global climatic change have shifted substantially over the past two decades. Scientific evidence has confirmed human activities have altered the earth's atmosphere to such an extent that wide scale climatic changes are anticipated. One of the consequences stemming from these scientific advances has been a growth in concerns related to the societal consequences of climatic change. This paper traces the development of climatic change - society research and argues there is an urgent need to re-orient this research field in order to incorporate assessments of human vulnerability.