Environmental Determinism

In the 1950s, meteorologists thought that climate was a constant and that climatology was sort of an actuarial science. The kind of thing Metlife employees might be well positioned to do. So, with very little that was legit to do, climatologists debated whose climate was most salubrious. The answer usually was, "Mine." Our friends and wasp soul mates on the islands off the west coast of Europe studied the tonic vs. sedative nature of their climate and found their homelands best.

C. E. P. Brooks in his book The English Climate (English Universities Press, London. 1954) considering winds, humidity, temperature and sunshine offered a 5-part classification of climate-salubriousness:

  1. Very bracing
  2. Bracing
  3. Average
  4. Relaxing
  5. Very relaxing

MCM is off the charts! Us continental people tend to think of England as a rather climatically uniform place, sort of a giant Seattle or at least Vancouver Island. Using the Brooks' classification, we might well find that Reykjavik, a.k.a. "Bay of Smokes", Iceland is very, very bracing and Spitzbergen, Norway very, very, very bracing and the Cannes, France very, very relaxing and San Diego, California very, very, very relaxing. The British regions of relaxing or sedative climate are so because of the "moist, equable west or south-west winds."

The authors of Environment and Man: Health and the Environment (ed. J. Lenihan and Wm. Fletcher, Academic Press. 1976) reporting on C. E. P. Brooks' salubriousness classification note, "Sunshine can cause marked changes in a white person's subjective sensations of health." Climomythology was still fashionable in Brooks’ England. This is found in his 1976 book that apparently sneaked past the reviewers just before political correctness settled in and just before we began to understand the lie in "sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt you."

Climomyth notions like this, however, were rife in climatology until recently. You might consider see E. Huntington's work at Yale. He was the champion environmental determinist in North America. Such untested Environmental Determinism infiltrated many disciplines earlier this century. Lenihan and Fletcher note other mythic factors in human health, such as "radiation, magnetic fields, cosmic rays and static electricity, whose significance can be assumed, but which have not yet been worked out." Climomyth. Assume it and it will be science! Apparently, New Agism escaped climatological sciences and infected Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine and the general public in the late 1980s.

Nay. Nay. The climate of Crozet, Virginia is most Salubrious. That is my climomyth and I am sticking to it. A general salubriousosity test is mirror, mirror on the wall, whose climate is the most salubrious of all.


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