This title is from a wonderful bit of silliness by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (here) and it reminds me that today I am facing a difficult task.
I am going in to bat for weather forecasters.
Now this may take some time, and ultimately prove unsuccessful, so please feel free to go away and do something useful whilst I have this discussion with myself.
When we moved to GOF's paradise at the foot of a mountain, the old timers provided the very sage advice, probably repeated by wise old people in many countries and languages around the world;
"Only fools and newcomers attempt to predict the weather.
If you can see the mountain, it MIGHT rain.
If you can't see the mountain, it IS raining".
Meteorology and its related sciences excite me. I have a fascination with weather. An urge to understand the physics involved in creating and driving this powerful force of nature.
Weather related facts are awe inspiring and thought provoking.
There are 2000 thunderstorms operating around the earth at any given moment, each with the potential energy to build up to and beyond 50,000 feet into the atmosphere before dissipating in an explosion of water, ice and fire.
8000 lightning strikes once occurred in the space of a single weekend in California.
For my part of the world, after the winter solstice in June (we're a little funny like that in Australia), day length initially only increases around 10 seconds per day, gradually accelerating to 55 seconds per day in October.
The sun it would seem, just like me, takes time to get its arse back into gear after winter. ****
The world is full of pretenders who claim the ability to predict weather, or give surrogacy to ants, frogs, birds, or mango fruit stalks.
Fact is, no living organism can accurately predict weather.
It is random, and driven by forces so complex and powerful, that we, at this point in our evolution cannot fully understand them.
Bureau of Meteorology forecasting has come a long way in 100 years. Tropical cyclones used to arrive "out of the blue" and cause huge loss of life. Now they are identified early, are trackable, and increasingly their future direction of movement can be accurately forecast.
Air and sea travel around the world relies heavily upon weather forecasters for safety. In recent years phenomena such as microbursts and wind shear, both of which are hazardous to aircraft, have become understood by meteorological science, and weather conditions conducive to their occurrence are now predicted.
I am happy for meteorology to remain an inexact science.
Enjoying the sight and sound of an approaching thunderstorm, the rainbow which follows, the sunsets, and the little white puffy clouds floating by, does not necessarily require me to apply scientific explanation.
And besides, the conflicts that we now see for political and economic control of the worlds oil and land resources will pale into insignificance should humans ever achieve total understanding and control over its weather.
**** For the benefit of any school child or university student who would seek to plagiarise my hard work and include it in some curricular thesis, then, you grubby little cheats, it is my responsibility to advise you that consensus amongst a majority of astrophysicists in 2009 is that the sun has neither gears, nor an arse.