CDN will be on vacation for the next couple of weeks, with our Wednesday Wakeup newsletter reappearing on August 17. And it’s fitting that as we packed up the cooler and tent we received a flyer from a major Canadian retailer saying “Enjoy summer with hot weekly deals”. See? Everybody knows. (Though not everybody provides links and they didn’t.) The simple fact is that while nobody really wants to live in Death Valley, they also don’t want to live in Siberia. Humans, as Patrick Moore recently observed, are a tropical species, which is why cold kills more of us than heat even in hot countries, and a lot more prematurely. It’s also why adventure tourism will take you somewhere spectacularly icy and cold, wrapped in complex layers of technologically advanced protective clothing, but when it’s time to relax, we head for a beach somewhere warmer, for most of us, than we habitually live and take off all that modesty permits. On which note we hope you have a pleasant, sunny break too.
Obviously we employ our considerable ingenuity to smooth out the extremes. In cool places and winter seasons, we heat and we insulate, using every trick in the book to keep deadly cold at bay. And when it’s hot we take measures, and always have since the pharaohs made somebody else wield the fan. But it’s noteworthy that as we pushed out relentlessly from our African homeland, humans started taking ever-more-extreme precautions to keep nature from slaying them if they ventured out of the hut, including peeling a hairy elephant to make cloaks, whereas in the tropics, clothing was more or less optional because warmth was so much healthier. Just because we survived in Scotland doesn’t mean the weather there is nice.
It's also noteworthy even today that most people live in the hotter parts of the Earth. And while it may be objected that many of them live in poverty there, it doesn’t mean heat causes poverty. On the contrary, it means people can live on much less where it’s warm.
To be sure, if the alarmists are right and soon it will be 50°C everywhere we’ll be in a heap of trouble. But such a thing has not happened in the history of planet Earth and there are good reasons for thinking the climate has built-in stabilizers that prevent, rather than hurtle toward, runaway warming. Though typically it has been 10°C warmer than it is now, and by “typically” we mean over most of the last 500 million years during which life has flourished. Unfortunately for most of the last 2.5 million years it has been a lot colder, in ways that were deadly at the time and would be again.
It is the return of that sort of natural cold, not the coming of unnatural heat, that really ought to worry you. But not in the next couple of weeks. For now we hope you get to read a book, get a tan, jump in the lake and generally bask in the warmth. As we intend to, if chilly weather doesn’t spoil the fun.