Latitude & Weather : Is Industrialisation generally easier in temperate (vs. hot) climates?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jfoul, Mar 14, 2019 at 10:17 AM.

  1. Jfoul Well-Known Member

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    That's a fairly broad question, but considering the factors of industrialisation, beyond the availability of resources and the existence of knowledge and expertise, would the climate also impact the likelihood of developing industry?

    Part of this interrogation stems for instance from the compare and contrast between industrialised North US and agricultural South CSA in the Civil War. But also from comparing northern and southern european countries in the 19th century. I do wonder if those contrasts are only due to availability of resources, and historical, social, cultural and economical factors, or if warmer/hotter climates may also somewhat either impede the development of industry or merely favour the development of other forms of production.
     
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  2. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    Well, climates will seasonal changes to the point where gathering food isent viable year round do tend to produce cultural practices more condusive to the development of basic mechanical/craft skills, since people need something to do during winter. There's also a theory that it. There's also no doubt it puts pressures on populations to promote tendencies (social or genetic) towards longer time horizons/propensity to save and manage resources that help the accumilation of capital, since the odds of surviving/making better use of the times during the colder months requires putting in work above immediate needs to gather and planning the storage/rationing of the resources (fuel for heating and cooling, including keeping it dry, food, extra cloathing ect.) that aren't similarly strong in a climate where if your pantry is looking a little empty you can go out and catch a fish or whatnot without risking losing your finger to frostbite or spending so long trudging through snow and shivering/losing body heat it's not even a net calorie gain. Compile that pressure over many generations,and a far larger share of cultures and individuals in temperate climates will have both the genetic "nature" and social "nurture" to be inclined towards that kind of society.

    (And yes; the science does say time horizon/propensity to delay gratification does indeed have a substantial hereditary component to it. No value judgement, just a statement of fact.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 10:50 AM
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  3. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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    People forgot how coal loaded is europe
     
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  4. EnvarKadri Well-Known Member

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    Yaeh, but why think about that when you could circlejerk about how hard working and efficient europeans (specially northern ones) are compared to the rest of humanity or how people from cold climates compared to hot ones. Having a bourgeoisie capable to invest in industrial development? Having coal, iron, good infraestructure and available landless workforce to contract? Nah, southern european, arabs, africans, asians, etc. need to stop having siestas and work hard all and smart like northern europeans. :rolleyes:
     
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  5. Nivek Resident Videogame Expert

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    Industrialization come a very demanding set of circumstance, some very european(and luckily north american too.. i see a pattern...) they got and exploited, if let's say natives of soth america got it..coal is limited outside brazil and take a very special minning techinque to get coal too in several regions, the other would be oil.
     
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  6. EnvarKadri Well-Known Member

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    You are right. Apart of that you need population density in a well connected territory, so good agricultural land with good infrastructure so a strong central State capable of defending the land and building the roads and canals to connect the country. Also other strong States in your borders to generate competition and force the State to exploit in a more intense way its territory and population compared to extense expantionistic empires that solve the need of resources of the State adding more land and people.
    And a growing middle class bourgeoisie that supports the central State against the local power of landowner nobility. So yeah, lots of things.
     
  7. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    You do realize coal only goes part way towards explaining the situation, since mass production and the market revolution are also vital factors in terms of actually harnessing excess energy stores into something people consider worth doing on an industrial scale? And that geographic conditions have an impact on the types of socities that can thrive there just as it affects what type of physical traits are more condusive to survival? The Siesta isent a stupid or lazy idea to develop in a tropical climate; it dosen't make any sense for a person doing hard physical work outdoors (which for most of the our history was basically everybody) to put in heavy effort when everything is at it's hottest so they can rest more when it's cooler than it is for a person in a temperate climate doing the same work to rest in the warmer months just to have to try to pick up the slack in the winter. Both make the most efficent use of a scarcer resources and try to avoid the extremes of their local area, it just so happens one selects for a longer time horizon than the other. In that sense, for the sake of industrialization cultures developing in northern Europe "got lucky" in their geography in the same way they did with coal deposists.
     
  8. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    No - proto-industrialization happened in India which is quite hot.
     
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  9. Curtain Jerker Well-Known Member

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    Winter helps because it kills off disease-carrying vectors (bugs especially).
     
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  10. AnonymousSauce The 7 Deadly Butterflies of Shaolin

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    Do you have a source for that?
     
  11. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    Nothing that goes into the required detail that I can pull up on short notice that won't hit a paywall, and I'm more than happy to play without the genetic selection component if you'd like and just focus on the pressures environments put on cultural norms and successful individual behaviors. I was more covering my behind against accusations of racism for using the idea of "evolution" in behaviorsthough patterns to flesh out my answer to the question.
     
  12. AnonymousSauce The 7 Deadly Butterflies of Shaolin

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    Yeah, it's kinda funny how when you do a simple Google search on the subject most of the stuff that comes up that isn't behind a paywall is from some rando's alt-right/race "realist" blog...
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019 at 5:11 PM
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  13. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    Hence why I diden't want to open up that particular route and wanted to cover my behind by clarifying I'm not making a value judgement. How genetics impacts behavior is a complex field in general, and touches on many areas with strong political/cultural components. So as I said, I'm more than happy to not go down that line if you don't to avoid this going down a racial rabbit hole. It would be more productive to address the questions being asked as I was doing in the main body of my post
     
  14. AnonymousSauce The 7 Deadly Butterflies of Shaolin

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    OK, I'll say this then by way of addressing one of the questions in the OP: He specifically asked about the difference in industrialization between the antebellum North and South. Is say it's pretty obvious that the main reason that the North industrialized to such a greater degree than the South had a lot to do with the South's economy being oriented towards plantation agriculture of cash crops facilitated by slavery. Now of course, that's tangentially related to latitude B/C those cash crops for the most part weren't productive in the North, but that hardly equates to a hard and fast rule about cold winters being now conducive to industrializing societies.
     
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  15. FillyofDelphi Well-Known Member

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    I would say the specific reference of the Mason-Dixie divide was qualified by the phrase "Part of this interrogation stems" (operative word part) and that the instance was immediately supplemented by a second example of northern and southern European counteries which demonstrates he was asking a broader question, to say nothing of saying that it was the broad question he was interested in bluntly in his first sentence, hence that was what I was addressing. But if we're talking about Northern US vs Southern US specifically, than of course a longer-scale cultural trend theory dosen't make sense given we're talking a much smaller time frame. There, it indeed had a lot to do with the fact that the ability to grow much higher profit margin (vs grains and other staples) down south meant you had a much higher threshold for the point it would make sense to invest in industry and the less connection between regions (and the fact slaves are lousy consumers) made it harder to pull together a critical mass of demand to make centralized production and distribution worthwhile and thus producing a market revolution.
     
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  16. Riain Well-Known Member

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    I once read a throwaway comment about the Crusaders in Outremer having to 'change their vigorous habits' developed in the cold/temperate climes of Western Europe now that they were in a place where it was hot as balls in the middle of the day.

    Given industry demanded long hours of vigorous work throughout the day the negative effects of oppressive heat that demanded people slow down for a few hours in the middle of the day is a deterrent. Not a show stopper for sure, but it is a hurdle that makes things just that bit harder and therefore less likely.
     
  17. IncongruousGoat Armchair Rocket Scientist

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    As a counter-example to the "Cold places are likely to industrialize" argument there's always Russia, which was notably slow about the whole thing. IMO, in the case of both Europe and the U.S. the rate of industrialization can be all attributed to political, social, and geographic (positions of rivers, coal seams, inconvenient mountain ranges, etc.) factors. There might be a case to be made with the relative productivity of agriculture, since especially in the U.S. it was infeasible to farm cash crops in the North, but again I point to Russia, as well as various "tropical" locales where large-scale cash-crop agriculture wasn't possible (the Barbary States, much of the Ottoman Empire, etc.). And, as mentioned above, there are examples of proto-industry in India (and China) that failed to go anywhere for social/political reasons.

    This does raise the question of whether tropical climates favor certain systems of government, but that doesn't seem to have much basis in history. Athens wasn't known for its bitter winters, nor Russia for its ever-present heat.

    Interestingly, similar reasoning was used before and during the Industrial Revolution to try and explain the discrepancy in development between Northern Europe/North America and everyone else, up to and including schemes to ship ice to the tropics to try and combat "torpor". Needless to say, these schemes were unsuccessful.
     
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  18. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

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    I wonder, does anybody know how much heat early industrial machines used to give off? If it's a lot, that might be OK in a temperate climate, and absolutely unbearable in a tropical one.
     
  19. H.Flashman(VC) Well-Known Member

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    2 points:

    1) Holland turned to trade because the soil in the Rhine delta was poor and was turning poorer in the 14th century. The mass industrialisation started very late (1880) and was concentrated in the poorer parts of the country Brabant, Overijsel, South Limburg (mainly Catholic, up yours Weber) The main reason for the lateness is the concentration of the country on Holland's trade. This trade had as a side effect that wages were relatively high, and it was at first not profitable enough to start industries. The industrial entrepeneurs for the largest part weren't members of the rich elite of Holland, but local gentry, who had a position to gain.
    2) When you talk about workethic of the laborforces, it is good to remember that this was a problem for entrepeneurs in every industrialising area. Those farmboys that went to work in factories needed to learn time more precise. They were used to a routine were the only time measures that had meaning for their work were sunrise and sunset. It is not for nothing that factories used punchclocks. Agriculture also knew a lot of free days.
     
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  20. Optical_Illusion Well-Known Member

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    There are some arguments that cool-temperate climates around IR that cool-temperate tend to end up having a higher wage burden because subsistence includes more fuel and warm clothing, and that cool climates tend to would more scarce population per mile (lower available labour pool in the country), and that in the long run this pushes to industrialisation because it makes animals and then machines more attractive for labour substitution purposes in general (as well as trade with foreign countries with a relative food and ag production advantage, etc.).

    I'm not sure how much I credit it though. I don't really think it works for fine distinctions like North vs South USA, which really seem more to be to do with the difference in basis from a plantation (South) compared to settler, urban, production (North) economy .
     
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