We revisit the notion of climate, along with its historical evolution, tracing the origin of the modern concerns about climate. The notion (and the scientific term) of climate was established during the Greek antiquity in a geographical context and it acquired its statistical content (average weather) in modern times after meteorological measurements had become common. Yet the modern definitions of climate are seriously affected by the wrong perception of the previous two centuries that climate should regularly be constant, unless an external agent acts upon it. Therefore, we attempt to give a more rigorous definition of climate, consistent with the modern body of stochastics. We illustrate the definition by real-world data, which also exemplify the large climatic variability. Given this variability, the term “climate change” turns out to be scientifically unjustified. Specifically, it is a pleonasm as climate, like weather, has been ever-changing. Indeed, a historical investigation reveals that the aim in using that term is not scientific but political. Within the political aims, water issues have been greatly promoted by projecting future catastrophes while reversing true roles and causality directions. For this reason, we provide arguments that water is the main element that drives climate, and not the opposite.
And the summary
Given the hot and polarized discussions and actions about climate, it can be anticipated that many readers would find this paper useless, if not harmful. Actually, one of the aims of the paper is to show that polarization stems from political, rather than scientific, roots. Many scientists have paralleled their scientific profession with political aims (cf. “Marches for Science”). At the same time, mixing up science with politics has been promoted by many as a positive development. In contrast, this paper tries to promote the ancient ideal of science being separated from other interests, such as economic or political. It is recalled that Plato and Aristotle clarified the meaning and the ethical value of science as the pursuit of the truth; pursuit that is not driven by political and economic interests. For the latter, they used different terms, sophist (σοφιστής) and sophistry (σοφιστεία) [30,111–113].
In modern politics, fuzzy language and subjectivity may be desirable as they serve several purposes such as inclusiveness and diffusion of responsibility. In contrast, in science, the desiderata are rigour, clarity and objectivity. These desiderata may attribute some usefulness to this paper in clarifying concepts related to climate and water. Arguably, there is a strong need for such clarification if we accept that political influences should be left out.
Specifically, the current definitions of climate do not highlight its nonstatic nature. Rather, they imply a static climate, as already analysed (Section 3). Hopefully, the definition proposed and illustrated here (Section 4), which highlights the stochastic character of climate, could be useful to dispel this fallacy or, at least, provoke some discussion toward a more rigorous definition. By dispelling the fallacy, the term “climate change” would hopefully disappear from the scientific vocabulary and remain where it exactly belongs, i.e., the political vocabulary (Section 6). Dispelling another set of fallacies about the relationship of water and climate, also investigated here (Section 5) could be equally useful.
The potential usefulness relies on at least two facts. Highlighting the stochastic character of climate and its huge variability helps us understand the failure of current deterministic modelling approaches in describing past climate, and points to a potentially more promising direction in climate modelling within a stochastic framework. Highlighting the strong role of water in the climate can help shake the prevailing views on roles and causality chains in climatic processes, which may currently be opposite the real ones.