‘The human race is controlled by climate’
The strangest questions invade your brain in the middle of the night when you are awake and rehashing the news that in the coming years more migrants will still head north to European countries. More than 2 million have already done so and caravans to America will continue. I wondered why is it that the southern half of the globe always heads to the north? Because it is rich obviously, but how did it happen? Modern man came out of Africa 75,000 years ago then spread throughout the globe. Everybody had an even start. The planet was untouched by human hands. So how did the South end up poor and the North rich? How did little England, just a dot in the north Atlantic colonize the huge country of India, to name just one of many it conquered? Why didn’t India conquer England? Why did France, the Netherlands and Belgium colonized most of Africa and not the other way around? Why did the Industrial Revolution start in England and not in Somalia? As I said, the middle of the night is challenging. But the answer was obvious.
The sun of course, the disparity in climates. The human race is controlled by climate.
What other explanation could there be? Take a map of the Earth, fold it in half horizontally. The lower part covers the tropical climates of Mexico, South America, Indonesia, Africa, India. The northern part includes all of Europe, Greenland, the United States and Canada. In Greenwich, the last week of August ended with high 90s feeling like 100 degrees with the high humidity. How did you feel? Unless you had air-conditioning, you felt more like sitting in the shade with a cold drink than going out conquering nations. In cool, rainy England however, you would entertain ideas of building a fleet of ships and sailing the seas looking for treasures you might pick up along the way and claim as yours. Hello colonization. And prosperity for England and the other European nations who were busy doing the same thing in other parts of the world.
The lands in the southern hemisphere were arid, bone dry by the relentless sun foregoing any thought of farming. Without rain, crops fail. Lakes, rivers dry up turning to deserts. In India, the maharajas were powerful, wealthy with their own armies but without desire for adventure abroad or progress at home. While tropical India has been the world’s largest democracy for more than 60 years, it is a sad example of 21st century progress. Its highly skilled, educated young men flocked to Britain after independence and now to America where they are some of our best doctors and technology experts.
As for Africa, it gets the prize for dysfunctional governments, internal wars, revolts. Mexico, Central and South America are no bargains in the 21st century, else why did millions immigrate to the United States and still try.
Why did these countries never progress to the same level as those in the northern hemisphere? There were lagging far behind before, during and after colonization. Could climate be a reason? They can not grow enough food to feed themselves, many children go to bed hungry, without health care, without schools. Lands of deserts, jungles, droughts, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, poor soil inevitably lead to poverty in spite of rich natural resources.
Climate change is a fact. It started after the Industrial Revolution and has slowly but defiantly progressed to where we are now: the world’s temperature has been going up and is not stopping. Now imagine if today’s hot climate in the southern hemisphere were to increase and spread to include the northern hemisphere. The United States and Canada would become tropical and Europe semi-tropical. Dry land would turn to deserts, crops would fail, farm animals would die along with other species. California, which never should have been developed for habitation in the first place and is always short of water would now have none, zero. As this is written, 20,000 people are fleeing wild fires in northern and southern California. As for the southern hemisphere, it would become so unbearably hot that humans could no longer survive and would do the obvious: immigrate to the northern hemisphere not as they do now for a better life but for life itself. How would one half of the globe’s population fit into the other half? Such a picture invites wars, revolutions, chaos and eventually the extinction of mankind.
Next time there is doubt what climate change can achieve over time, think of the differences right now between the two hemispheres and magnify it a hundred fold. This is no fantasy. The future always seems so far away, but eventually it becomes the present. Count on it.
Greenwich resident Carla Wallach is an author of five books and writer of numerous articles in national newspapers and publications.