Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Conversation Starter

Why do we all talk so much about the weather?

We can't change it, at least not in the short term, although it seems more and more likely we may be changing it in the long term.

The weather affects everything we do, and at least regionally, it's something we experience in common. It's a handy conversation starter – almost everyone has an opinion about the rain, the heat, the cold – and most of us find it hard to argue about. And if you're stuck for something to say when you are talking to someone far away, you can always ask “how's the weather out there?”

Around here lately, it seems as if the weather is stuck on a “sample” page – we get a little of everything. This morning it's raining, but wait – by lunchtime we'll have sun. Before dinner there will be sleet on the driveway, and by bedtime we'll have a few inches of snow down. South of here they have tornado watches, and flood watches, and lots of conversational fodder for tomorrow.

The weather doesn't require a lot of conversational creativity, and people of all ages can discuss it. You don't have to know about inversions or be able to name specific clouds, although I'd give you extra points if you could.

Talking about the weather is often conversational filler. It's what we talk about when we can't think of anything else to say. But if global warming is real, talking about the weather may be far more important than we realize.

The weather may affect everything we do in ways we don't even understand yet, with implications for how we use natural resources, how we recycle, how we think about the way we live and work.

So – how's the weather where you are?

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