YOU HAVE probably noticed the distinct change in the weather over the past few weeks. Even soggy and cold, the trend marks a clear improvement. It is a heartening response to public opinion. Polls taken here in early September showed that 93 percent of the public felt that it had been much too hot for much too long. Fully 99 percent wished that they were at the beach. No weather policy can endure in the face of such nearly unanimous public opposition. True, the change might better have come a little earlier. But when it came, even in its extremes, the change was in the right direction.

The delays were owed, at least in part, to the inevitable complexity of the Environmental Impact Statement. To reduce the average temperature by 27 degrees, as the majority proposed, would necessarily have wide consequences. It would make billions of leaves turn yellow, as the experts pointed out, and might kill the zinnias in people's gardens. Several eminent scientists testified that, if the low temperatures began to trigger furnace thermostats, energy consumption would immediately rise with ominous implications for American dependence on foreign oil. There would be severe economic effects. Swimming pools all over the area would close. It would become too cold for night baseball, and hundreds of ballplayers would be thrown out of work at a time when unemployment is already high.

All of these points were carefully considered. We wouldn't want it any other way. Wrongheaded though the opposition was, and deficient in its sense of the public interest, it was entitled to its day in court -- although, as usual, that day went on a good many weeks too long.

There are some experts who fear that, in charting this welcome change, the administration may once again have overshot the mark. They forecast temperatures continuing to drop over the next couple of months to unpleasantly low levels, raising the possibility of snowstorms and other public disasters. That, of course, would be intolerable. But on present evidence such predictions seem, to say the least, unduly pessimistic. There's no reason why intelligence and good will can't find a reliable way to fine-tune the weather cycle.

For the present, the important thing is that the summer -- a particularly brutal, stifling, unhealthy and long summer -- has ended. People justifiably protested it. They exercised their right to complain. They denounced it in the strongest terms. And note the weather situation has immeasurably improved. The system worked.