In a weekly column, alternately written by Maarten Steinbuch, Mary Fiers, Carlo van de Weijer, Lucien Engelen, Tessie Hartjes and Auke Hoekstra, Innovation Origins tries to find out what the future will look like. The six columnists, occasionally supplemented with guest bloggers, are all working in their own way on solutions for the problems of our time. So that Tomorrow will be Good. This Sunday it’s Mary Fiers’ turn, about beautiful (?) weather. Here all previous episodes.
More and more often I listen with amazement to the weather forecast. Especially when it comes to the announcement of good or beautiful weather. What is actually beautiful weather? And why is that a good thing in the first place?
The climate is changing. According to experts, we will have to deal with extreme weather situations more often in the future. We already noticed something of this in 2018. The summer of 2018 was very hot. The farmers, our nature and many people suffered from the heat. The autumn of 2018 has also set heat records. However, the weathermen and women continue to cheerfully announce even more ‘good weather’.
Definition ‘good weather’
What is ‘good weather’? For the statistics, the Dutch weather institute KNMI has defined ‘good weather’. That is a day with a lot of sunshine (at least 50 per cent of the time it can actually shine), little or no precipitation (in 24 hours no more than 0.2 millimetres) and a supernormal temperature. ‘Good weather’ is a sunny, dry and warm day.
Sunny is positive
KNMI is not the only one to translate ‘sun’ into something good. We know many proverbs and sayings in Dutch, which show our positive image of ‘sun’. Just think of “being the sun in the house” and “looking at the life from the sunny side”. We often use the rain to describe something negative: “after rain, there will be sunshine”.
Great weather and happiness
Happiness researcher Martijn Hendriks linked figures about happiness to temperature. And it turns out: the higher the temperatures, the finer the Dutch feel. How does Hendriks explain this? On hot days, the Dutch spend more time on activities that contribute to their feeling of happiness. For example, they work less, sit outside more, do more sports, and cycle to work more often. And then there is the simple effect of the sun on your skin: people produce more serotonin, a substance that makes us happy.
Yet there is also a downside to ‘nice weather’. Especially when the ‘good weather’ is becoming more extreme. Think of the major dehydration problems in Brabant that the Water Boards are really worried about. With all this heat, farmers see their crops fail and their incomes dry up. Animals and plants in nature suffer from the persistent drought. Some animals and plants do not survive the heat. Not to mention the increasing number of people who die from heat stress. Or the increasing risk of skin cancer. So it’s not that beautiful after all.
I advocate a neutral weather forecast. Just mention the weather by its name. Just describe it in a factual way, and do not add value judgements such as ‘beautiful’ or ‘good’.
I can already hear Gerrit Hiemstra saying: “it will stay dry tomorrow”. Or Helga van Leur mentioning “it will be warm tomorrow” and Piet Paulusma “it was relatively cold today with 15 degrees Celsius”.
Everyone can then just give the value judgement for themselves. You will never hear me call temperatures above 25 degrees ‘good’. I burn alive and I don’t come out of the shadow.
To reinforce my plea, I would like to ask you to use the hashtag #weatherneutral from now on. Yes, that’s something else than #climateneutral.