Weather vain: While climate change can be predicted, day-to-day rain or shine remains a guessing game


While we worry about climate change, we tend to overlook weather change. Climate is the sum total of meteorological phenomena as seen over years, decades, and even centuries. Weather is the same phenomena viewed on a day-to-day, or even on an hour-to-hour, basis.

Climate is the entire lifespan, including successive reincarnations, of weather. Weather is a day, or even a momentary hour, in the lifespan of climate.

And weather, as predicted by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), and other forecasters, is getting more and more changeable, or fickle, day by day, so much so that projections as to how it will behave at any given time are beginning to resemble the calculus of astrology and other occult arts.

This increasing unpredictability of weather has been brought home to me in the past few days, during the tail end of the monsoon season. Each morning I check the day’s forecast to see whether rain or sunshine is in the offing, such information helping us to schedule our day’s activities, or inactivities. If it is going to be sunny, we could go out shopping or engage in other outdoor pursuits. If it is going to rain, with the consequent flooding and waterlogging of streets, we stay safely indoors.

Makes sense. Except it doesn’t. Often on a day when the Met department guarantees bright sunshine we set forth and the heavens suddenly open and it rains not just cats and dogs, but an entire menagerie, not excluding the sundry bear or an odd elephant or two.

Conversely, the Met sounds an alert of downpours, bringing to mind Noah and his ark, and we stay indoors while the sun blazes down on surroundings as bone dry as the Sahara.

How do the good folk at the Met get it so wrong? Don’t they have science on their side, like satellite imagery and supercomputers? They do. The problem is not too little science, but too much.

In his famous Principle of Uncertainty, the physicist Erwin Schrodinger showed that in trying to predict an event we change the outcome of the event.

So in trying to predict the weather we change the weather, whether we like it or not. Or weather we like it or not.

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Disclaimer

This article is intended to bring a smile to your face. Any connection to events and characters in real life is coincidental.



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