Predicting The Future

People who live in the UK often complain about the terrible weather.  Why don’t they move to better climates?  It’s not impossible.  It may be tough and it takes some effort, but it isn’t even improbable as quite a number of people do do it or plan to do it.  One can only assume that they don’t want to.  And yet they complain about the weather anyway.  Complaining about a situation you, however coerced or tacitly, have consented to.

There are those who appreciate whenever we get some warm sunny weather.  As soon as we get a little sun we are out in droves in shorts and t-shirt to enjoy it, but I like that we realise how limited it is.  And it is.  It comes close to ‘making every day count’.  I love seeing people enjoying the sun and warm weather.  I also enjoy that we get a limited number of days of it.  Without the dull and wet days (which are interesting and lovely days as well), we wouldn’t appreciate it when it’s warm and dry.  The weather in the UK is incredibly interesting and with a little research into how and why we get the weather we get, I think complaints about it would cease.

I think that the majority of people actually enjoy the variation in weather that we get.  They complain about it because complaining is something that we in this culture just do.

One thing I find pretty funny is when they confuse ‘climate’ with ‘weather’, and visa versa.  Interestingly, when the weather is cold, wet and/or dull (defined as bad), the weather is confused with climate; when the weather is warm, sunny and dry (defined as good), the climate is confused with the weather.

To expand:
Climate change deniers often say “it’s raining and cold outside in Spring, global warming my ass” or something to that effect.  They still use ‘global warming’ and not ‘climate change’ because it’s cold, and they never discuss this when it’s warm.  This is a confusion between the current weather they are experiencing and the climate of their location.  The weather on a given day in a given location is not the climate of the planet.

Pessimists and complainers often say “it’s sunny for once, but this is London, it’ll probably be raining by the weekend” or something to that effect.  This is a confusion between the climate and the weather.  The climate is an average of what the weather is like over a longer period of time.  Climate data cannot predict the weather day to day.  The fact that they are in London, or anywhere else in the UK, does not in itself tell us any about how the weather will be like by the weekend.  However, the fact that the weather is sunny and warm actually does have an effect on the weather of tomorrow, but there are limits to it as the further into the future you go the more possible outcomes there are.  (Marcus du Sautoy explains this with an iPad on his series ‘The Code’ on the BBC.  The whole series is informative, enjoyable and interesting.)

Weather prediction is a dynamic process because what goes on in the atmosphere can be chaotic depending where you are.  But what I always remember is that weather prediction is PREDICTING THE FUTURE.  Not only that, it is a future that we have absolutely no control over.  The fact that we can predict the future of the weather, usually accurately for 72 hours, i.e. over long weekends, given the changeability of the weather of the UK, is an extremely great achievement, and one that didn’t exist until the twentieth century.  Ironically, our lifestyles have meant a loss of our natural ability to read our surroundings, our surroundings being artificial anyway, and can’t predict the weather without scientific equipment.  But it’s a skill that can be practiced.  You can tell a lot by looking at the clouds, or absence of them.  It’s all a sign of what it’s like up there and what the possible weather might be in the very near future.

I’m going to learn more about clouds now.  Meteorology is fucking awesome.

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