Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Montesquieu Reincarnate!!

Montesquieu famously had this amazingly racist explanation of the different "characters" of nations. And it was based! Weather causes "certain" people (for the racist M, that would be "dark" people) to be lazy and no 'count. Check this:

Spirit of the Laws: Book XIV. Of Laws in Relation to the Nature of the Climate

1. General Idea. If it be true that the temper of the mind and the passions of the heart are extremely different in different climates, the laws ought to be in relation both to the variety of those passions and to the variety of those tempers.

2. Of the Difference of Men in different Climates. Cold air constringes the extremities of the external fibres of the body;[1] this increases their elasticity, and favours the return of the blood from the extreme parts to the heart. It contracts[2] those very fibres; consequently it increases also their force. On the contrary, warm air relaxes and lengthens the extremes of the fibres; of course it diminishes their force and elasticity.

People are therefore more vigorous in cold climates. Here the action of the heart and the reaction of the extremities of the fibres are better performed, the temperature of the humours is greater, the blood moves more freely towards the heart, and reciprocally the heart has more power. This superiority of strength must produce various effects; for instance, a greater boldness, that is, more courage; a greater sense of superiority, that is, less desire of revenge; a greater opinion of security, that is, more frankness, less suspicion, policy, and cunning.

In short, this must be productive of very different tempers. Put a man into a close, warm place, and for the reasons above given he will feel a great faintness. If under this circumstance you propose a bold enterprise to him, I believe you will find him very little disposed towards it; his present weakness will throw him into despondency; he will be afraid of everything, being in a state of total incapacity. The inhabitants of warm countries are, like old men, timorous; the people in cold countries are, like young men, brave.

Now, unbelievably, check this!

The Income–Temperature Relationship in a Cross-Section of Countries and its Implications for Predicting the Effects of Global Warming

John Horowitz, Environmental and Resource Economics, December 2009, Pages 475-493

Abstract: Hotter countries are poorer on average. This paper attempts to separate the historical and contemporaneous components of this income–temperature relationship. Following ideas by Acemoglu et al., we use colonial mortality data to account for the historical role of temperature since colonial mortality was highly correlated with countries’ average temperatures. The remaining income–temperature gradient, after colonial mortality is accounted for, is most likely contemporaneous. This contemporaneous effect can be used to estimate the consequences of global warming. We predict that a 1°C temperature increase across all countries will cause a decrease of 3.8% in world GDP. This prediction is robust across functional forms and an alternative method for separating historical effects.

Wow! Global warming allows lefties to be racists! Yikes!


Rolo said...

Geez, Environmental and Resource Economics rejected my article.

Abstract: We found strong evidence that Selma Hayek is hot(an 11 where the average woman is a 6). We also found that our Hayek sample was wealthier than the average woman. We were able to estimate that increasing the average hotness of the worlds women from 6 to 7 would increase world GDP by 13.768709%. Our results our very robust and and stand tall to different specification of Ms Hayek.

Tom said...

Montesquieu said warm weather makes people lazy? I always associated Garrison Keillor with that hypothesis.

I'll have to read this article; I had expected that all colonies' "mortality rate" was 100%.

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