People like talking about the weather. It makes for a good opening line or change of topic with a stranger. There is, after all, a lot of non-offensive material to talk about. One can go into details about storms, temperatures, rain, snow and sunshine until one feels comfortable enough changing the topic from weather to something else.
In some ways it is an opportunity to talk about us. Weather often seems to resemble man’s personality. The rainy and stormy part can represent our sad and darker side while the sunshine and cool breezes express our happy and carefree side.
Discussing the weather seems to be quite popular, right next to politics only a lot more pleasant. Weather and climate are not influenced by man’s actions as much as culture and society are. There is still a distinct boundary between nature’s way of life and the way man chooses to live his life.
Man has not been involved in controlling the extreme climate changes that have taken up residence on our planet over the ages. With the existence of man as we know him today, his weather has also been mostly steady which allows man to live in an environment that is habitable and tolerable.
The weather does not discriminate on whom it will pour rain and cause floods, but simply bases its outcome on laws of physics that are influenced by temperatures, movements of bodies of water and pressure systems.
The weather is still a harmless casual topic of discussion between friends and strangers that does not evoke any sort of hostility. One simply seems to respect the fact that nature takes its own course when it decides to rain and when it decides to be sunny.
It is known that the weather affects us psychologically, which is possibly another reason why we like to talk about it. People who live in colder climates seem to have a different personality than people in warmer climates. Longer darkness and cloudy skies affect us with mood swings and melancholy. A lot of sunshine, on the other hand, lifts our spirits up and motivates us to be outside.
Understandably the weather cannot be adjusted to individual needs, which means that if somebody is too hot or too cold he has to find ways to keep himself comfortable. In most instances man has learned to add or remove clothing according to his environment and create comfortable clothing to accommodate this need.
People in cooler climates have found ways to occupy their long dark periods with a few more beers at night and by entertaining himself listening to music and poetry, reading books, or creating art. For some it’s watching TV endlessly. Electricity and proper lighting have helped bring brightness to darkness.
Technology has added the conveniences of heating and cooling units to keep individual homes at their personal comfort levels. Man learned to adjust to his level of comfort by means of individual choices that he can apply in his own home and property.
He even learned to irrigate the land in drier climates to control crop production, which makes him less reliant on the weather. The Sumer civilization in Southern Mesopotamia had learned this skill over 5000 years ago, creating a thriving civilization that relied on the flow of the Euphrates.
In addition, man has engineered dams and canals to control lakes and rivers to make use of its energy by building water reservoirs and transportation routes that have greatly benefited him. Trade and commerce flourished in these areas, where man’s creativity was used to let nature serve him. How he manages and operates these vital life lines has always been left to his own good will and common sense.
But what would happen if one person suddenly set himself up to control the weather by adjusting it to his own personal standard? The idea sounds fundamentally wrong since the entire human race would then be under the tyranny of one person’s subjective preference. His interference would disrupt the entire course of the natural cycle causing drought and floods in one area by choosing sunlight and warm temperatures over another. Part of the population would not be very happy with this manipulation.
As long as the weather remains outside man’s control, people can accept the consequences as natural. He knows it is outside his domain and a fact of life. If anything, floods and disasters can inspire man to build sturdier structures, invent new technology with greater efficiency or even come up with new warning systems. He can also apply his human compassion to those who suffered through a weather related catastrophe.
Manipulating the weather by restricting man’s creativity through legitimate force would limit the choices man has to use his free will. His actions would no longer be based on using his own common sense, but fear. The ones in control would not be able to equally bring happiness and pleasure to other parts of the globe, since his action has become discriminatory. People would get a sense of entitlement if what they perceive to be their fair share of the weather were not complied to. The natural balance, which the weather creates to stabilize the climate, would then fall under man’s darker nature: entitlement. There is enough of that already.
Any expectations to regulate the weather by suffocating man’s drive to use the earth as his source of energy, is suicidal. Regulating it through laws upon a global community may be like water drops on a hot stone. It’s a foolish idea. So far no Western nation has managed to eliminate problems in this world created by man. He only made it worse by placing more laws on matters thinking he could stabilize them with disastrous wars and poverty to follow. The sheer energy and resources wasted on putting the legal fist on problems that often can be resolved if left to natural laws — like the weather.
The amount of capital placed in this scheme to control the climate would be better served by investing them in business and technology that would actually provide work for the people. Man’s resources would then be invested in his own prosperity. People who live free and own their property are known not to rape their land.
This is evident in those countries where property was for the common use of its population and not owned by private citizens but by the state. Nobody cared enough to sweep up neither their own dirt nor maintain the proper upkeep. These nations had greater pollution and environmental declines than in those countries whose populace owned their own property.
The choice is up to the person in how he wants to deal with the non-cooperative weather. Whining about it won’t change anything. The fact that man has never been in control over any of these matters has actually driven him into using his inventive thought processes to come up with better ways to live and provide protection from the weather.
People in Texas, California and Florida learned how to deal with tornados, heavy rains and hurricanes. Every year we hear of disasters, loss of life, and catastrophes throughout the globe caused by the weather. The recent tsunami catastrophe in Asia and Florida’s hurricane season were some of the highlights of last year’s catastrophes.
We hear of these things more often simply because news travels a lot faster around the globe than 1000 years ago, distorting one’s perception that nature is just on a rampage when really is just doing what it has always been doing. Population has exploded over the past 100 years, so when a natural catastrophe does hit a highly populated area it seems harsh and cruel.
Those who happen to experience the drama of severe weather often receive a renewed sense of humility about the frailty of life, the power of the human spirit, and God’s grace to overcome a catastrophe. They rebuild their community and homes. The smart ones will apply better ideas for stability and may start building their houses on rocks rather than in flood zones.
Weather is not discriminatory and does not make victims or victors willfully. There is no fairness or equality in its performance. People know that and respect it because the weather can bless or curse the ground on which we live. Yet, not once has man been able to influence it through sheer will power.
We can only make predictions and assumptions on how the weather may develop based on observations of a few factors: temperature, pressure, wind, and clouds. Combining these can give man a general picture on what he is to expect and where the weather is heading, since the natural laws are reliable in how they operate. Predictions can be made for a two to five day outlook, but even then changes will occur. No weather report contains 100% accuracy.
Radar control and new instruments have enabled predictions to become very precise, thus helping to save many lives. The News Media, however, has made a habit of making the weather big news. They create more excitement and panic than necessary. One wonders if the weather has just been discovered since the invention of the radar. Warnings and alerts will save lives; creating panic and hysteria do not.
Man made it through storms for thousands of years. By applying some common sense, along with knowing a few facts, one just knows not to go out during a lightening storm in Texas. And, as discussed earlier, sometimes there are no comforting words as to why certain catastrophes happen in one place and not in another.
For those whose goal is to find a way to regulate the weather, and thus our climate, the following words speak for themselves:
"Can you move back the movements of the stars? Are you able to restrain the Pleiades or Orion? Can you ensure the proper sequence of the season or guide the constellation of the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe and how God rules the earth? Can you shout to the clouds and make it rain? Can you make lightening appear and cause it to strike as you direct it?" (Job 38:31—33)
Job understood the majesty of the universe and respected its sovereignty. It will never be man’s place to set himself up as emperor over nature. He was appointed to let the earth serve him and to be a good steward of creation. The weather should not ever become a political issue. It is about the only civil thing left to talk about in our current climate. It still is, for the most part, the least offensive topic to discuss amongst civilized people.
Sabine Barnhart [send her mail] moved to the US in 1980 and lives in Fort Worth, TX with her three children. For the past 15 years she has been working for an international service company.