Climate, Political Philosophy and Lunch

 

 

I was reviewing the literature the other day on the correlation between violence and climate. It is unsurprising that when people get uncomfortably hot, their tempers flare, they become  irritable , and the likelihood of physical aggression and violence increase.

As such I thought it might be interesting to compare  two countries that  I have  visited and/or lived in: Luxembourg which is among  the least violent nations on earth and (not to anyone’s surprise)  Belize which is among the highest. Luxembourg ranks above average in income and wealth, jobs and earnings, work-life balance, personal security, subjective well-being, health status, environmental quality, and housing.

Belize has not been very successful at any of this nor at creating new industries or  new jobs for its fast growing young population and is now boasting unemployment over 16% and poverty over 40% and is swimming in an ocean of debt.

Other than an appalling humidex, there are of course other variables like the legacy of colonialism and imperialism and ensuing poverty and lack of ambition that has impinged  on Belize. Then there is the misery of the drug trade which flows through Central America but somehow bypasses Nicaragua and so its homicide rate is 1/2 that of Belize despite  being slightly more impoverished.

Unsurprisingly however, a hot climate seems to be a primary driver of aggression. Living in a place with greater seasonality and lower temperatures prompts people to be more future-oriented and more greatly value self-control. They are  temperamentally more temperate. Life in a tropical  climate happens to be more  dangerous in terms of people killing each other and environmental dangers like venomous animals and plants and natural disasters.

Clearly there is  a general trend between proximity to the equator and violence. There are 26 homicides per 100,000 people in Central America compared with 5 per 100,000 in Europe. What is hypothesized is that hot  temperatures put people into more highly aroused states, which primes impulsive, potentially violent behavior.

In addition, tropical violence  might also derive from people assuming that they’re going to have shorter lifespans, less planning for the future, and less self-control. They are less strict about time, they have less use of birth control, they have children earlier and more often.

These children may not be well fed. Belize has the second highest infant mortality rate in the region.  Studies have shown that malnourishment — both prenatal and in young children — is a precursor to adulthood antisocial behavior, aggression, and violence.

They use mood altering substances more often though the correlation is not straightforward.

Belize for example has the highest regional per capita consumption of alcohol  a known disinhibiting agent and crime precipitant, but Luxembourgoisie drink more booze than any other country in Europe and they are pretty non violent bunch.

So what we may conclude is that there are many interweaving variables that induce violent conduct in humans, but  climate is a major contributor.

Numerous cross-sectional and time-series studies using real-world heat and violence data provide converging evidence. Cities and regions with higher temperatures tend to experience more violent crime than cooler regions, even after controlling for a dozen sociocultural factors such as age, race, poverty.

So whats going on?

Here I think is the answer..

 

It’s a question of hard wiring. The hypothalamus regulates autonomic functions including temperature regulation. In Belize where the humidex can reach 120F the hypothalamus shorts out and sends a signal (right hook red line) to the amygdala the aggression control centre. This neuronal wiring defect is also similar to that observed in republicans who inhabit the hottest regions of the USA. This explains why places like Louisiana and Alabama have the highest homicide stats and are inhabited by really dumb Trumpophilic troglodytes.

Folks in Luxembourg however operate in the green zone so that signals can travel to the pre frontal cortex which is the home of planning, foresight, moral judgement and intellect. As an added benefit a spur line takes a right hook to the septal regions  the pleasure centre. For a Belizean to achieve this would require high doses of cannabis. It should come as no surprise that Belize has among the highest marijuana usage stats in Latin America.

What are the implications for governmental regulation? Indeed what sort of governing is ideal?

To start we look the 18th century French philosopher Montesquieu.

He correctly asserted that certain climates are superior to others, the temperate climate of France being ideal. His view is that people living in very warm countries are “too hot-tempered”, while those in northern countries are constitutionally “cooler”. The climate of middle and northern Europe is therefore optimal and conducive to democratic socialist governance.

The upshot is that since the neuronal writing is not easily modifiable, totalitarian external control is needed to improve socio economic efficiency in hot climates.  For example Under Idi Amin Uganda was modernized and prospered. Under Mussolini Italian trains were on time.

And so in sweltering  Belize a corrupt  inept parliamentary democracy just doesn’t make the grade and people are forced to survive on this…

 

Where as the functional liberal socialist democracy of cooler Luxembourg offers us a gay prime minister and decent lunches…

 

The clear conclusion supports the need for establishment of dictatorships in those African and Latin American countries with high homicide stats which has historically been the case.

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2 Responses to “Climate, Political Philosophy and Lunch”

  1. Carole kocian says:

    Is there a single country in equatorial Africa with a stable government?

  2. Allan Seltzer MD says:

    I think I should clarify the dictatorship comment by indicating it ought to be a benevolent dictator like Marcus Aurelius or Fredrick the Great.
    Plato would agree.

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