Climate is generally recognized as the most important component of the natural environment. It provides us with major essentials for living and greatly influences how we function and many aspects of societal interactions. The interactions between man and climate can be both favorable and unfavorable. Understandings of the relationships between man and climate and the causes and effects of weather and climate are most beneficial in planning for, adjusting to, and coping with most kinds of climatic phenomena. It is apparent, therefore, that how and why man lives as he does in various parts of the world is "Due to the Weather."
There is an often repeated saying that "climate is what you expect, but weather is what you get." Throughout this book, however, the terms weather and climate are used interchangeably. By definition weather is the state of the atmosphere at any given time and place. The conditions of the temperature, pressure, wind, humidity, cloudiness, and precipitation are all basic elements of weather. When they occur over a short period of time, perhaps for several hours or days, they are deemed to be weather. Climate, on the other hand, is regarded as the average statement of the weather conditions of a place or region over an extended period of time. At least twenty to thirty years of data collection and synthesis are necessary to generalize or draw climatic conclusions.
Wherever man lives, he is dependent on a favorable climate to provide him with the essentials of living. They include good air, water, food, and shelter. Periodically, weather conditions can develop that are unfavorable, even violent, and that can lead to distress, disaster, or death. Due to the Weather reinforces by examples how people are greatly impacted by both positive and negative aspects of weather. It also illustrates how weather influences, or in some instance determines, the lifestyles of people worldwide. Geographers and other social scientists recognize the major role weather and climate play in shaping human behavior and cultural activities.