Let’s talk about the weather

This is a tongue in cheek response to a Facebook note on the weather suggesting that the city dwellers in Melbourne should, ‘make the most of whatever comes your way.’ While I am all for working with what you have got, I think that there is value in discussion about the weather, even if that means complaining.

 

It is great that Simon likes all the seasons, moving to Costa Rica does not sound like a bad suggestion, and his witty prose did cause me to hang my head in shame. However, his Facebook note ultimately misses the point in more ways that simply being wrong about parsley liking autumn over summer, spring and winter.

There is much to say about the weather. Why are interesting cities so often places with more challenging weather? In way of example I suggest the way people talk about New York compared with Los Angeles, and Melbourne compared with Sydney. I will leave this discussion to somebody else, because I am not interested in what weather is as much as what experiencing and then discussing the weather means.

Getting by in different weather could, by extension of the work of Fincher and Iveson, be seen as a shared project or labour of the kind to encourage the ‘encounters among strangers (rather than indifference or hostility) [which] are a desirable goal for urban life,’ (Fincher & Iveson 2008: 153).

Weather is available to everybody, although it is experienced in very different ways. If you live a door-to-door car trip away from work, your work and pay is not weather dependent, you have some flexibility with your time so you can wait out a heavy down pour, you do not have to wear a uniform, you can afford heating/ cooling, and you do not suffer with any weather related health conditions then yeah, the weather probably does not matter that much.

So yeah, I guess it makes sense that you live your entire life surrounded by people who do not directly suffer as a result of the weather then you can take the attitude of, ‘I am so aware that I will only assess the weather on its consequences for farmers- except maybe Australian rice farmers because that is an unsustainable practice that should not be encouraged.’ This is a type of exclusion by choice, and we should not automatically accept that it is a superior attitude to take.

At this moment in time, the climate is highly politicised. However, the analysis of Swyngendouw (2010) highlights how the ‘choreographing of climate change’ (213) is a form of govermentality which evacuates dissent (227). It is not a question of whether or not climate change is real, but rather the way that effacement of the political is justified through claims of catastrophe (214), when the contributing factors and impacts are deeply political.

Disagreeing about the weather is not going to tear society apart. In Carl Schmitt’s friend-enemy distinction an enemy – whom you can do anything to without feeling guilt – is not somebody you disagree with, it is somebody to whom you do not have anything to say.

We can discuss our weather likes and dislikes and the health of our parsley* in Facebook comments to our heart’s content. But I do not think when it comes to the weather there is any justification for defining some opinions as being only worthy of ridicule.

* (If you want to know, mine is doing well, except some that has grown over a shrub that died off is looking a bit yellow. Perhaps it is alerting me to something wrong with the soil there?)

References

Fincher, R. and K. Iveson (2008). Planning and diversity in the city : redistribution, recognition and encounter. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York, N.Y., Palgrave Macmillan.

Schmitt, C. (1996). The concept of the political. Chicago & London, University of Chicago Press.

Swyngedouw, E. (2010). “Apocalypse Forever?” Theory, Culture & Society27(2-3): 213-232.

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