demonstrates a grave physics lesson

ironman2012

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

Author Barbara Kingsolver writes in her essay,
"Water is the visible face of climate and therefore, climate change. Shifting rain patterns flood some regions and dry up others as nature demonstrates a grave physics lesson: Hot air holds more water molecules than cold."

(This comes from bibliotecapleyades.net Is Water The New Oil by Jaymi Heimbuch.)

Does the blue part mean nature teaches a grave physics lesson, as in "-what do you do? -I'm a teacher. I teach physics lessons in a high school"?

Thanks in advance!
 
  • Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    A lesson is something that we might learn from, but it does not necessarily mean there is a teacher. Here, the lesson is by demonstration rather than instruction, and a demonstration does not require there to be a person doing it: "This model demonstrates how a steam engine works".
     

    ironman2012

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Does "lesson" here mean "an experience, especially an unpleasant one, that sb can learn from so that it does not happen again in the future", rather than lessons in "piano lessons"?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with your own assessment in the OP.

    I think it’s fair to say that in this case what’s meant is a lesson in the normal, educational sense — but it’s used figuratively. Frankly, the sentence is not well written. People don’t demonstrate a lesson, and neither does Nature.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Neither. It is far more neutral. The unpleasant meaning in, for example "I hope that'll be a lesson to you", and a piano lesson are both examples of lessons, but the term can be used more widely than that. It's original meaning (which is still in current use) was a passage from the Bible, read aloud during a church service.
     
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