Climatology, mythology and climythology
From time to time new words and phrases appear in new journals, books
and newspapers. We as common readers interested in the various changes
in climate conditions know what climatology means. It is the science of
knowing aspects of climatic conditions. It is also the subject which
teaches us all about impending climatic disasters like tsunami,
tornadoes and earthslips.
We as common readers are also aware of what mythology means. It is
the subject which teaches or helps us understand what a myth is. A
researcher in the field is known by the term mythologist. But have you
ever heard of a term that goes as climythology? On trying to understand
more about tsunami I had the chance of going through a well written
article on the subject of climythology. First of all I should cite the
source. This is an article written by a folklorist cum communication
researcher David M Ludlum titled The Climythology of America written in
1990. For several reasons I felt that this research article is valid for
all times on knowing how the humans react to their various types of
climatic conditions with special reference to America.
In the first instance the researcher Ludlum outlines how the man from
his earliest stages of development reacted to climates and tried to
prove some of the impending good as well as adverse effects of the same.
He takes a panoramic vision of the man amid the natural climatic
Then he shifts his interest to show the reader how the man at times
begins to be a gradual enemy of the place he lives. This results in some
of the impediments that we encounter from time to time. At the outset
Ludlum says Ďthe intellectual content of climatology had made little
progress from the time of Ptolemy, the Greek astronomer and geographer
of the second century AD to the year 1601, which marked the beginning of
the century of colonization of North America, by the English and the
French. Then he notes that the concept of clima or parallel bands around
the world which shared comparable temperatures and hence weather
conditions, was the generally accepted view of global arrangements.
How is climate connected to the myth? According to Ludlum who gives a
liberal view states that it is more or science fiction linked with the
myth that had given rise to a subject called climythology.
But the term climythology had not been widely used due to the
confusion it could create. But he states that gazing at the sky on the
part of astronomers as well as astrologers around the globe had resulted
in the creation of many a global mythical narrative. During the first
two centuries of settlement of the American seaboard, a popular
misconception arose about the observed climate. Several questions were
raised. Where were the record snows of yesteryear? Why did we not have
the harsh winters so often mentioned by grandfather and great
grandfather? According to Ludlum many homespun philosophers pondered
these questions and suggested answers.
Though no actual facts were brought forth, most people in colonies
thought those conditions had grown milder and that seasons had changed
with spring coming later and autumn lasting longer. Several research
papers as well as books have appeared on the subject of global warming.
In certain ways they tend to record the voice of the common man who
feels the impact of the climate. Then from there the subject is
developed into the findings on the subject when the skylark roams in the
sky an average villager in our country would say itís going to rain.
A climatologist may say the same from another point of view. An
impending drought is forecast by the appearance of another bird called
Kedetta or Chataka. This bird is in the process of finding water to
drink. The villagers would find time to make prior arrangements to see
that they have a good supply of water restored. According to Ludlum who
has found the links between climatology and mythology, there are rain
myths, desert myths, flood myths and health myths etc. For me it was an
exercise in rediscovery. It looks as if the climythology is connected
with some of the evil actions of humans.
What are they?
Humans dig the earth and makes mines to grab all the earthen wealth
like gems, gold, silver, oil and many more natural pressures. The very
human being though builds a barn of wealth in the material sense is
unaware of his misdeeds of gluttony and plunder. Thus he is responsible
for many an earthslip and avalanche. So should we apply the same to
seabeds, riverbeds and the process of deforestation, which results in
the magnitude of disaster we face from time to time?
Mythology as a subject sprang up long before climatology. Study of
myths around the world help one gauge the intensity to which the
mythmakers take care of the natural surroundings. Robert Graves was one
scholar who collected quite a number of myths of Greece and translated
into English. Studying some of those myths one would observe how the
ancient Greeks tried to preserve the god-given natural environment
leaving the impending disasters. So even if a person disagrees the term
climythology says a lot about the man and his impact on the climatic
conditions for which he is held responsible.
Are we to speculate that when most modern technological approaches
fail to forecast impending disasters, the creative and imaginative
guidelines as underlined in climythology may help supply more food for
thought? In this direction the research work of David M Ludlum is worth