In every way imaginable, heat plays a role in daily life. From the way cultures develop, to the infrastructure within cities, to the overall happiness of countries. Why is it that most of the impoverished countries are always near the equator? The answer is heat.

To understand why heat plays such a big role in the human life, you have to go back 10 million years ago. Back to when everyone was living on the continent of Africa. Back then we were all the same, there was no poverty, and there was no class differentiation. But as time wore on and people began to migrate north, and farther away from Africa, they had to deal with an unpleasant certainty. Winter. Down in Africa, it was warm year round, there was no need to deal with the harsh winter that lay up in the north, therefore, there was no adaptation required. But the people up north did have to adapt to survive. The winter brought up a new challenge, one in which the people had to come together to combat its furious winds, and stone cold snow. So what did this lead to? This led to efficiency, it led to better built homes, more structured societies, and more knowledge in order to survive the harsh winter.

As the years went by, people in the north emancipated themselves a lot better than those down by the equator. The same goes for people farther south of the equator. There is a direct correlation between heat and the well being of a country. You look at Norway, Canada, Switzerland, highly ranked on the Human Development Index (HDI) and countries like Cuba, Mexico, Algeria, who are ranked lowly on the HDI. One explanation for this is the infrastructure of these countries. You look at Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Two countries known for their wonderful warmth and beautiful beaches. I myself have made my way there once or twice. And while you’re at the resort you feel no sense of how poor the country actually is. But if you look out the window of the bus that transports you from the airport to the resort, you get a sense of the poverty that fills these countries. The houses have no doors, holes right through the walls, the asphalt on the street does not exist, the houses themselves are smaller than apartments found in downtown Toronto. But they feel no need to fix them because it’s warm all the time. There is no need for the doors to even exist because the weather is never cold enough to bring concern. Therefore, that sort of attitude is adopted to other aspects of culture as well. Running water is a luxury and so is an in-house washroom, yet they still greet you with a smile when you pass by.

Ironically, the nicest people are found near the equator. Why? Well because there is no cold weather to bring down your mood. Many people in the north suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder as a result of the cold, harsh weather. The culture that surrounds the equator is one where these types of disorders simply exist. This inevitably leads to a state of happiness. But it is a different kind of happiness then that of the north’s, it is not one of satisfaction, but one where they have become their current lives, and where they understand what their life is like, and in turn they take the little joys in life and perpetuate them in order for them to be happy. They know they are possibly never going to live at the same stature as those people who come to visit their country, but nonetheless, they are happy. But the reason their culture is structured around happiness is because they never have the chance to be sad.  The sun takes away most of the misery from their lives.

Unfortunately, they will never be able to liberate themselves the way the north has is because of the way their governments structured. Dictatorships and corruption are the motto for governments along the equator, and will continue to be for a long long time. You look at the European Union and the southern countries, like Spain, Italy and Greece. All of them in deep economic crisis. And what do they have in common? They are all very warm countries. Corruption runs through Greece’s veins. Greece’s tourism industry runs on the base that they have a paradise-like country. The only reason they aren’t completely bankrupt is because the EU is bailing them out constantly. But let’s see why they got there. To make it simple, I’m going to make a sweeping generalization. In Greece, around 50% of the population works for the government, doing the bureaucratic things a government must to stay afloat. In other words, they cut the leaves off the bushes. The other 50% worked in the tourist industry. Where all the business is dealt in cash. In essence it is done like that so they don’t have to pay tax. So here you have a country, who doesn’t pay tax at all. Not surprisingly the country filed for bankruptcy, all because of the corruption. This all goes back to the structure of their society, or in Greece’s case, the lack of one, which has caused their country to be among the worst in the EU. It’s understandable now why they asked for a multi-billion dollar bailout from Germany.  The warmth is to blame.  Now Cuba. This country has been a military dictatorship since 1959, and the Cubans seem to be living a content life within. There is no need for a revolution within the country because they don’t feel as oppressed as other northern countries under the USSR regime were. Since the heat provides this aura of relaxation, the constraint of living under a dictatorship doesn’t play as big as an impact as it should. Once again, heat plays a central role in the country’s governmental system. Or “governmental” system in this case.

Heat is a bigger factor in the global system than people think, and it will play a bigger role as the earth’s temperature keeps on rises.

Image Credit Victor Nechita