Imagine all the climates of the world walk into a bar. You have the Mediterranean climate, suave and attractive, chatting to those lucky enough to be in its presence. Nearby there’s the desert climate who is a bit strange and rather quiet but is generally the most sober by the end of the night. Tropical climate is a right laugh, but if you get too close can be a dangerous person to know, embroiled in arts best left secret. Polar climate is shy and withdrawn but by far the best conversation once you gain its trust.
Then there’s also, sitting modestly in the middle, the Oceanic climate. This is the climate I have lived in all my life and has subsequently had a massive impact on my worldview, though this may not be immediately obvious. I was prompted to think of this by my walk home today under several layers of fog, which has followed periods of sunshine and sporadic rain. These are the wonders of Oceanic climates: Winters are mild and Summers are cool – rain falls evenly across the year so flooding or droughts are rare – diseases do not thrive here; malaria and cholera are foreign concepts – and we are free of most freak weather conditions such as tornadoes and water spouts.
But on the whole, living in an Oceanic climate means precipitation. Lots of rain. There’s rain pattering against the window just this moment, in fact. Not just rain; sleet, snow and hail can occur all throughout the year. We may appear to be the ‘dull’ climate but really we have the features of every climate rolled into one without most of the consequences. If the climates were to exit the bar and line up on a political spectrum, Oceanic would be a clear moderate.
I’m becoming aware that this may not excite you, the reader, as much as it does me. But what is interesting is the effect a climate can have on the person living in it. I have built up a sense of security in this climate, this idea that the Earth is here to benefit humanity and would never turn on us (admittedly this idea was shattered when lightning ravaged my house back in August, but that really was a super-freak incident). This must be so different for someone living in, say, the Horn of Africa. They must contend with droughts, famine, and also a multitude of diseases. This both leads to and is exacerbated by political instability in the region.
Cultures are affected by climates. In religion: areas of low precipitation a worship of rain Gods is more common, and in areas with extreme weather conditions having a multitude of Deities for each one is clearly very tempting. Some of the world’s most liberal societies are found in cold, polar regions, whereas a large number of authoritarian and totalitarian societies are found in tropical areas including Africa, and in the deserts of the Middle-East. Oceanic societies have a heavy focus on ships and fishing, these aspects often forming the heart of a community.
There are other factors which influence human society as well, of course. History, distance North/South, make-up of soils and rocks, etc. are all other ways in which our presence on this planet can be driven in a certain direction. Yet the influence of climates should not be underestimated, and I am aware of how ill at ease I would become the moment I left an Oceanic climate and entered another. It is a deeply ingrained part of who I am and always shall be.