This week I was asked to initial that I’d read a policy about “inclimate weather.”
Inclement is the usual term: not clement: not mild, kind or merciful. But “inclimate” has some obvious utility in our age. If power is out for a week because of a climate change-induced hurricane, we might call that inclimate weather. Or if it’s 85 degrees in November, or cool and rainy in July. Everyone I know who grows a garden agrees that this has been a strange year in a hard-to-identify way, with weather that has not favored crops. It has been subtly inclimate.
The “clime” part of the word was used by Ptolemy of Alexandria to describe wide bands that encircle the earth, each having its own characteristic weather and vegetation. This system used a very broad brush to categorize what are, in fact, multitudes of different local climates and geographies. (San Francisco is not much like where I live in Virginia, though we’re on the same latitude.)
We seem to love organizing chaotic facts into neater systems, but when we do we put the lie to every particular thing. Every day is its own temporary climate; every location is the site of a specific event in weather and relationship.
In that way everything is inclimate, or nothing is. As we deal with changing climates, we are in some sense dealing with the loss of our own false certainty about how weather should behave according to human memory. This is a kind of shattered delusion. Initial here.