Friday, 30 August 2013

Red Sky in the Morning

A valuable skill is knowing when to over-ride computers and to employ instinct to make choices.

But choosing the right moment to over-ride can present a challenge. As an example, to save money and time when driving back to Calais recently, we had to turn off our satellite navigator. It had done noble service, finding us a free car ferry to cross the Rhine, locating exact addresses in far flung places and offering arrival times. However, the question we now needed to answer was too complex for its limited powers of computation. We needed the shortest route, avoiding road tolls, taking into consideration that the road we had mapped, was unexpectedly closed.

So I was interested in reading this article today in “The Lady”.  It compares the super-computers of the Met Office, our official weather forecaster, with the skills of a Kentish, amateur weatherman. He uses basic weather gauges, moon charts and the signs of nature. It suggests that this man’s predictions are more reliable than the Met Office's super-computers. Could this be because super-computers cannot 'see' the sky, note the fruits of trees or test wind direction on certain dates - as our medieval ancestors did? I list here the “signs of nature” that he claims we should watch out for:

  • grass growing on 1 January - there will be one harvest that year;
  • masses of acorns on the trees - denotes a very cold, hard winter;
  • robins becoming territorial near your house (food) in September - denotes a cold hard winter;
  • a fair moon - means dry sunny with no wind;
  • the direction of wind on 21 March, 24 June, 29 September and 21 December as that will be the direction for next 90 days. If it is from the east, then cold weather will follow;
  • when the wind blows on 11 November its direction will tell you how cold the winter will be;
  • loads of stinging nettles in summer - it will be a cold hard winter.

There is even a biblical reference for nature offering us instructions. Jesus notes in Matthew 16.3 that His enemies read the signs of nature to tell the weather, but they were blind to the signs of the (spiritual) times. In other words, they are blind to the signs of His Kingdom and to all it offers mankind:

And in the morning, it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and overcast. O you hypocrites, you can discern the appearance of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?  Matthew 16.3 

Calvin observes on this passage:
“The instructions of nature are sufficient to enable men to predict from signs whether the day will be fair or cloudy. Christ therefore asks why they do not recognize the kingdom of God, when it is made known by signs not less manifest. For this proved clearly that they were excessively occupied with earthly and transitory advantages and cared little about anything that related to the heavenly and spiritual life. They were blinded not so much by mistake as by voluntary malice” (in other words, by sin).  

Can one observe the same phenomenon, today, where people are blind to common sense due to sin which paralyses their reason?

Incidentally, The Lady article’s amateur weatherman says that Nature's signs indicate that, in the UK, snow will start falling on 26 December 2013 and will continue, until Easter 2014. 

If we choose to believe him, what is a proper reaction? Start saving now for an increased energy bill? Start considering getting a more efficient gas boiler, or getting a wood-burning stove, to help warm the sitting room?  (The Green Deal offers loans for gas boilers and insulation). Start encouraging those we know to buy enough fuel early and insulate now?  Give old coats to homelessness charities? Start locating charities which help the disabled and unemployed pay their rising heating bills, rather than turn the heating off, or go short of food?

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