Many people dismiss the weather as a boring conversation topic – something to talk about if you’ve got nothing else to say. Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish author and playwright, said that talking about the weather was “the last refuge of the unimaginative”. Some of you might agree – why should we be interested in something that just happens?
But discussing the weather is so much more than just a dull thing to talk about. It’s something everyone should be aware of:
– Knowing what the weather is doing is important to the New Zealand economy. We’ve just come out of a drought in the central and upper North Island. Without rain for weeks, farmers were beginning to worry about keeping cattle and sheep alive, and the effect that would have on the price of meat and crops for customers in supermarkets.
Energy companies, like Meridian or Might River Power, who rely on wind or water to generate electricity need to know in advance what the weather is doing as it impacts on the price of energy, and therefore what these companies need to charge their customers.
– Knowing what the weather is doing is important for events. How many of your school events have a postponement date? If you live in the lower North Island or on the South Island, I expect most of your outdoor activities have at least one alternative date. Think of all the additional organisation that needs to happen simply because of the nature of our weather.
– Knowing what the weather is doing is important for safety. If you play sport outside, or swim, kayak, surf, ski, tramp, even enjoy wandering around town on a Saturday, you’ll need to be aware of what the weather’s doing. Wellington, where I live, is due to have strong gales for most of this afternoon. Now I know that I won’t plan on going out later!
– Knowing what the weather is doing is fascinating in itself – how come a country which is as small as ours have such a huge variety in weather? It could be glorious sunshine in Auckland and blowing a 120kph gale in Wellington while snow is falling in Central Otago and heavy rain is engulfing Dunedin. And the temperature on any given day in New Zealand can range hugely depending on which part of the country you’re in. Isn’t that interesting?
So, next time someone talks about the weather, or the forecast comes on the television, don’t turn off or turn over.
Article written by Ben Egerton
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box]
[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:
1. What do you think Oscar Wilde meant by talking about weather being the “last refuge of the unimaginative”?
2. How can the lack of rain cause prices of meat and crops to change?
3. What is the link between knowing the weather forecast and generating electricity from hydro-electric dams (water) and wind turbines?
4. Do you care what the weather is doing?
[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:
1. There are particular places in New Zealand that are described as: the wettest; the sunniest, the windiest; the driest; the coldest; the snowiest. Do some research and see if you can work out where they are. How might those places use the weather to their advantage, or how people who live there or visit them have to be prepared?
2. Look at an online weather map or watch/listen to a weather forecast. What’s happening where you live. How might knowing in advance what’s going to happen affect your plans, the school’s activities or local farmers or businesses?
3. The article lists several reasons why knowing about the weather is important to us in New Zealand. Discuss with a classmate how knowing about the weather – or climate change – might be important for places other than New Zealand. Research into a particular country or place and find out how the changing weather affects it.
[colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: