Weather = Your Mood?
Climate = Your Personality?

Dr. Arnd Bernaerts
4 min readFeb 3, 2021

Weather and climate the most used everyday words, presumably for several thousand years. But what is the meaning of them? Does the answer depend on whom you ask? Not necessarily. Lay persons use them as they think they need it to explain atmospheric conditions, currently, in the past and in the future. Science use them almost in the same way, unable or unwilling, to formulate scientifically useful definitions, or not to use this layman’s words at all. Their colossal failure is a major cause of the often very aggressive and more often very sterile climatic change debate.

The mighty failure by sciences stems from the fact that they occupied two words a few decades ago. The International Meteorological Organization (IMO; 1873–1951, today: WMO) in 1934 designated the thirty-year period from 1901 to 1930 as the reference baseline for measuring climate fluctuations. IMO considered, like laypersons, that ‘climate is average weather’, not even trying to define ‘weather’ in an academically reasonable way. The early climate definition was useless, and meanwhile it got worst, much worst.

Forty years later, in the 1970s, science made the word climate to their field of competence, although the prominent meteorologist H.H. Lamp (1913–1997) acknowledged that until the 1950s “climatology was generally regarded as the mere dry-as-dust bookkeeping end of meteorology”. Climatology did nothing to bring structure, clarity and accountability into the matter. Instead they turned the poorly thought-out IMO statements from the 1930s into chaotic gibberish that undermines any reasonable discussion.

That confusion is reflected in uncountable explanations. One goes as it follows:
“Weather is like ‘your mood’ while climate is like ‘your personality’ “. [Said by: Bill Hurley]. This is briefly explained:

Weather = Your Mood?

The Glossary of the prestigious American Meteorological Society (AMS) starts its term on weather (in the first sentence) that it is “The state of the atmosphere mainly with respect to its effects upon life and human activities”, (see image), which is scientifically meaningless, at best corresponds to what a layman understands by it. The further description is also useless for scientific work and a catastrophe for any communication with politics and the public, when trying to distinguish as follows:

__ “Popularly, weather is thought of in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind, and
__ the “present weather” table consists of 100 possible conditions, and
__ the “past weather”; of 10 possible conditions.”

No mentioning of “future weather”, or of which ‘possible conditions’ apply in any category, nor the time period, and so on. Concerning the term ‘weather’ the Glossary offers not more than the first sentence (see above): “…its effects upon life and human activities”.

The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) fails completely, because their Glossary says nothing about: ‘weather’.

Climate = Your Personality?

The closest to bring climate to human-being may have been formulated by Alexander von Humboldt (1769 –1859). The naturalist and geographer defined climate as ‘all the changes in the atmosphere that perceptibly affect our organs’. According A. v. Humboldt, ‘climate’ was even closer to the skin of any person as his dresses during day and night.

Instead of saying “climate is like ‘your personality’”, it would be clearer expressed by saying “climate is every persons personnel view”, because climate is a layman’s term, and the imaginary idea of an individual person, from a possible state of the atmosphere, at one place or in one region, about one short or longer period of time from own experience, or narrative of others, or e.g. out Guidebooks. This means: More than 5 billion adults are living on Earth. Everyone has their own view of climate and describes it as it corresponds to his own ideas, for the moment or the given circumstances.

IPCC is unwilling to define weather, but uses the word as it follows:

“Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. (cont.)” See image

Average weather is clearly attributable to the lay sphere, since the Stone Age and the peak of nonsense is when speaking about a period of time that stretches: from months to thousands or millions of years.

Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to this tragedy. The struggle over interpretive sovereignty in questions of climate change will continue for a long time, which will hamper the clarification of man-made influences.