You have Nothing to Lose but Your Clouds...What if you could vote to change the weather?

David Cowles

May 3, 2022

Suppose every day we could vote what weather we were to have tomorrow. What fighting there would be, what killing of one neighbor by another…most things that we vote for do not really matter, you are a little more or a little less uncomfortable as the government does one thing or another but the weather oh dear…that would be a disaster.”

“Suppose every day we could vote what weather we were to have tomorrow. What fighting there would be, what killing of one neighbor by another…most things that we vote for do not really matter, you are a little more or a little less uncomfortable as the government does one thing or another but the weather oh dear…that would be a disaster.” (Everybody’s Autobiography by Gertrude Stein)

The year is 2075. Scientists have finally figured out how to control the weather. For centuries everybody has talked about it, but nobody has ever done anything about it, until now!

Scientists now control the weather, but we still control the scientists. Each evening, we citizens decide by majority vote what the next day’s weather will be. We logon to our computers or smart phones and pick: high temp, low temp, sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy, windy, etc.

Our present political parties would quickly disappear (irrelevant now), and they would be replaced by competing lobbies: beach goers, ice skaters, sunbathers, farmers, skiers, sailors, etc.

But this state-of-affairs would likely prove unstable. As Ms. Stein suggests, it could quickly degenerate into social chaos with violent conflicts breaking out among opposing ‘parties’, i.e., gangs.

On the other hand, I do like all the new political slogans that are cropping up. My favorite so far: ‘Sunbathers of the world, unite; you have nothing to lose but your clouds!’

Of course, it is also possible that the reverse would happen. It just might occur to us that compromise was the only viable course: seasonal variation in temperatures, a mix of sun and rain, and a certain number of days set aside each year to meet the needs of ‘special interests’: swimmers, skaters, skiers, sailors, etc.

In other words, we could decide to keep things exactly as they are now! Well, not exactly as they are. Nature has provided something for everyone, but the body politic might be willing to ride roughshod over the interests of a few folks on the edges: storm chasers, snow ploughers, rescue workers, i.e., and of course, meteorologists.

Of course, there would be unintended, and at least initially unwelcome consequences: what would we talk about during those awkward pauses in a conversation? Could local TV news programs survive without a weather segment?

But this fable raises many more serious issues, for example:

  1. How balanced are the forces of order and chaos in society?

  2. When they clash, what is it that determines the outcome?

  3. Are there limits to the justice or utility of majority rule? And if so, what lies beyond?

If you enjoyed this ‘Thought while Shaving’ and would like to take a deeper dive into this topic, check out the feature length article, Meteorological Democracy, in Issue #1 of AT Magazine, to be published on 6/1/22. Anytime from 6/1 on, just click on aletheiatoday.com.

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