Climate Change Will Not Make Us Nicer

WIRED | 3/20/2018 | Amanda Kolson Hurley
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This story originally appeared on CityLab and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In 1748, the French philosopher Montesquieu published The Spirit of the Laws, a survey of political systems that argued for the separation of powers and citizens’ rights to due process. It was quickly translated into multiple languages, and Montesquieu’s ideas about liberty had a strong influence on the framers of the American Constitution.

Book - Taxes - Slavery - Montesquieu - Theory

In the book, after discussing taxes and before considering slavery, Montesquieu set out a theory that climate differences help to shape human societies. Based on pre-modern medicine, Montesquieu believed that cold air constricts the body’s “fibers” and increases blood flow, while warm air relaxes those same fibers. “People are therefore more vigorous in cold climates,” he wrote. “This superiority of strength must produce various effects; for instance, a greater boldness, that is, more courage; a greater sense of superiority... .”

individuals who grew up in regions with more clement temperatures (that is, closer to 22°C) scored higher on personality factors related to socialization and stability (agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability) and personal growth and plasticity (extraversion and openness to experience).

Report - Climate - Change - Changes - Personality

The report concluded that as global climate change continues, “we may also observe concomitant changes in human personality,” with the caveat that the extent of such changes “await[s] future investigation.”

Why would the outdoor temperature influence our personalities? The hypothesis seems almost too simple: In comfortably warm weather, we are more likely to go outside, where we encounter other people and engage in a wider range of activities. But in cold or very hot weather, we tend to stay indoors, where our social interactions and activities are more limited.

Kind - Finding - Jason - Rentfrow - Psychologist

“It’s kind of an intuitive finding,” acknowledged Jason Rentfrow, a social psychologist at Cambridge University and one of the authors of the report. “But I think the reality is that...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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