Friday, October 29, 2010

A quote provided by Mathis Hampel

Mathis Hampel, who writes a dissertation on "cultural contingency, social and epistemic authority of climate knowledge production" at the University of Venice, Italy, suggested to publish this quote without further discussion.

"Climate is a constitutional government, whose organization we see and understand...but weather is a red-hot radical republic, all excitements and uncertainties, a despiser of old rules, a hater of propriety and order. Climate is a great stately sovereign, whose will determines the whole character of the lives and habits of its retainers, and is therefore so little felt that it seems like liberty, but weather is a cruel capricious tyrant who changes his decrees each day and who forces us by his ever varying whim, to remember that we are slaves. Climate is dignity, weather is impudence."

Frederic Marshall in "Weather" (1875), taken from Blackwoods Edinburgh Magazin of the same year


aber said...

__Lay person (BC and earlier)- in the main-: Climate is the weather at a given place.
__Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519): Water is the driver of nature.
__J.W.v.Goethe said to Ekerman (1806): „The objects observed by meteorology are indeed similar to the living ones which we can daily observe in the living and creating process. They proceed from the assumption of a synthesis, but on so manifold in its aspects that the human observer cannot encompass it.”
__J.W.v.Goethe (Faust II, 1832):
“Everything comes from water.
Everything is maintained through water.
Ocean, give us your eternal power”
__W. Köppen (1875-1919): “The weather changes, while the climate stays”.
__WMO: “Climate is the average weather over a longer period of time (or “the statistical description…of the mean..” .
UNFCCC: none. (more at: )
__My suggestion “Climate is the continuation of the oceans by other means”, expressed in a talk (and paper) at GKSS, 04.Dec.1992; Heft 4, VdFFdGKSS-Forschungszentrum, p.53. See also: Letter to, NATURE, 1992, “Climate Change”, Vol. 360, p. 292;

Mathis Hampel said...

thanks for pointing out

have you noticed that all quotes, including the one I posted, are by male European adults!?

for me climate is manifested in memories about practices in weather. (dis)agree?

aber said...

# “climate is manifested in memories about practices in weather. (dis)agree?”

Positive. To explain the matter, in the direction you mentioned, a comment posted at yesterday it repeated hereafter: ArndB | October 28, 2010 at 6:22 am One of the main difficulties to agree on „Climate Change“ derives from the completely insufficiency of the term CLIMATE. Like the word WEATHER it is merely an ‘image’ in our daily life, a personnel, individual, and experienced observation. It is a layman’s expression, and reflects in no way the physical dynamic that govern the ocean and atmospheric processes. Both terms are scientifically irrelevant, and if used by academics in their professional work, or in communication with the general public and politics it is casing “confusion” and misunderstanding, to say the least.. Discussed at:

Two outstanding meteorologist had this to say not a long time ago:
____”Only thirty years ago climatology was generally regarded as the mere dry-as-dust bookkeeping end of meteorology.” H.H. Lamb, Meteorological Office Bracknell, Berkshire (UK), “The New Look of Climatology”, NATURE, Vol. 223, September 20, 1969, pp.1209ff.
____”This is obviously the decade in which climate is coming into its own. You hardly heard the word professionally in the 1940s. It was a layman's word. Climatologists were the halt and the lame. And as for the climatologists in public service, in the British service you actually, had to be medically disabled in order to get into the climatological division ! Climatology was a menial occupation that came on the pecking scale somewhat below the advertising profession. It was clearly not the age of climate.” F. Kenneth Hare, 1979; „The Vaulting of Intellectual Barriers: The Madison Thrust in Climatology“, Bulletin American Meteorological Society , Vol. 60, 1979, p. 1171 – 1124.

CLIMATE and WEATHER are still today only layman’s term.

Anonymous said...

The given quote from Marshall – seemingly convinced of a “settled climate science“ – "shortly" after the time when for example the iceages appeared in Geology – was also discussed in Katharine Anderson's book “Predicting the Weather: Victorians and the Science of Meteorology“ (University of Chicago Press 2005, Chapter Six (Science, State, and Empire) p. 235f.). Anderson's quote appears to be slightly different from Blackwood's Magazine's text whose essay also was printed the same year in The Science Monthly (pp. 254—272). It could be that some suspension marks were forgotten (right margin in that online/digital Science Monthly document is unfortunately illegible; our brackets):

      “[...] that we [unreadable; possibly “are slaves.“] Climate is local; weather is universal. We are indifferent to climate [unreadable; possibly “because“] we are accustomed to it, but we are dependent on weather because [unreadable; possibly “we do not“] know what form it will take to-morrow. Climate is the rule; weather [unreadable; possibly “is the“] exception. Climate is dignity; weather is impudence.“

The suspension marks (“...“) given by Anderson and Hampel are apparently correct. They are the substitute for some analogies:

      “latitude and altitude are its [i.e. climate's] king and queen; dryness and dampness are its two houses of parliament; animal and vegetable products are its subjects; and the isothermal lines are its newspapers;“

Further down The Scientific Monthly uses plural forms; see “a hater of proprieties“ and “ever- varying whims“. Maybe just another version of the original text.


Anonymous said...

For instance Montesquieu (1689—1755) had similar words like Marshall; cf.: Charles de Secondat Montesquieu: Oeuvres complètes. II. Texte présenté et annoté par Roger Caillois. Paris 1951, p. 565:

      “L’empire du climat est le premier de tous les empires.”

Nico Stehr and Hans von Storch noted in 2007 as well in “Das soziale Konstrukt des Klimas“ (In: VDI-Gesellschaft Energietechnik (Ed): Umwelt- und Klimabeeinflussung durch den Menschen IV, VDI Berichte 1330, 187-197 (ISBN 3-18-0913304) (right margin in that PDF is unfortunately illegible)):

      „Man ging davon aus, wie Montesquieu es ausdrückte, dass es kein mächtigeres Reich als das des Klimas gab.“
      (Roughly translated by me: „It was assumed, as statet by Montesquieu, that there would exist no empire mightier than climate's.“)

Stehr and von Storch spoke also briefly about Johann Gottfried von Herder's (1744–1803) point of view onto climate concerning a socio-cultural anthropology and cited him as follows:

      "[...] sind wir ein bildsamer Ton in der Hand des Klimas; aber die Finger desselben bilden so mannigfaltig, auch sind die Gesetze, die ihm entgegenwirken so vielfach, dass der Genius des Menschengeschlechtes das Verhältnis aller dieser Kräfte Gleichung zu bringen vermöchte".

But the correct citation seems to be different (cf. "Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit" (Herder 1784–1791); equally worded in "J. G. Herder. Sämtliche Werke"; Suphan (ed.), Vol. XIII, p. 268):

      "Freilich sind wir ein bildsamer Thon in der Hand des Klima; aber die Finger desselben bilden so mannichfalt, auch sind die Gesetze, die ihm entgegenwirken so vielfach, daß vielleicht nur der Genius des Menschengeschlechts das Verhältniß aller dieser Kräfte in eine Gleichung zu bringen vermöchte."

See f. ex. for an English version also Clarence J. Glacken: "Traces on the Rhodian Shore: Nature and Culture in Western Thought from Ancient Times to the End of the Eighteenth Century" (U of California 1967, p. 570) (our emphases):

      “we are ductile clay in the hand of climate; but her fingers mould so variously, and the laws, that counteract them, are so numerous, that perhaps the genius alone is capable of combining the relations of all these powers in one whole.“

I think nearly all societies had some time ago their "stable" regents (for instance for winds or waves coming from the North, South, West, or East).


Anonymous said...

Excuse me for giving the false impression that Herder had emphasized those above cited words. Unfortunately I forgot to note that those bold words were my emphases.

My citation originates in Herder's chapter "Was ist Klima?" (His book Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit was written during the episode of his inscription to the secret society Illuminaten.)

(BTW (notice to a blog moderator): I'm missing my comment from today on Silke Beck: Are “climate skeptics” gaining ground in Germany?)