Heat! It conjures up images of fire, rising temperatures, passion, even a movie. But it's much
more influential in our lives and is something we often take for granted. Earth is in the "sweet spot" in its distance from the inferno of the sun. Without the sun's heat, the temperatures on earth would reach hundreds of degrees below zero and pretty soon life on earth would end. And should the sun itself vanish, the gravity that held things together would instead allow all comets, asteroids and planets to fly off into space or each other.
While science defines heat as "the energy stored inside something" (like the core of the earth) temperature is a measurement of how hot or cold something is. Heat travels and moves around and through objects. Things that are hot cool down (like a cup of coffee) and things that are cold get warmer (like a cup of ice-cream.) Then there's weather which is an atmospheric condition defined as temperatures of hot or cold, and atmospheres that are sunny or rainy. Weather is driven by air pressure, temperatures interacting with moisture, and the sun's angle relative to the axis of the earth.
That's heat in a nutshell. But why is it so important? Because weather shapes the earth. Andalso because weather, with its temperature extremes of hot and cold, has an extraordinary impact on human health and well-being. In the northern hemisphere August is a month
synonymous with heat. The temperature is so hot wildfires abound and often sidewalks buckle in the heat. Some daring souls have fried eggs on their car bumpers during the month. August is also the "high season" for catastrophic hurricanes. Hurricane Katrina caused one million people to leave the Gulf Coast and move to other parts of the country, becoming the largest diaspora in the history of the United States.
Frying egg on sidewalk
The heat of August, coupled with high humidity, also contributes to exploding tempers and emotional outbursts. Like the weather, pressures in humans builds up. Police reports show violent crimes soar in the hot months but less so in the cold months.Archaeologists and psychologists say there's a link between the environment and human behavior. Evidence exists that extreme weather caused crop failures that led to unrest, uprising and the downfall of civilizations from Babylon to the Mayan Cultures to the dynasties of China.
But consider this. Research scientists at UCLA Berkeley have been seeking a "grand unified theory of the environment and human behavior" that crosses location and time with the only constant being us. The research concludes that a degree of fluctuation from average temperatures or rainfall results in a predictable change in human conflict. They said this conflict is played out on NY subways, as well as influencing the regional and national levels. When heat is added it escalates. For instance when policemen were placed in a "heated simulator room" they were more likely to fire their guns when assaulted. The environmentappears to be affecting how small scale conflicts can escalate into larger ones.
You're probably wondering what this has to do with you personally. Sufi mystic Pir Vilayat suggests one should always "look for that which transpires behind that which appears" to get a better understanding of events. What if there's a correlation not just with the weather affecting humans but rather with humans affecting the weather? I don't mean humans causing climate change, though that's an aspect of it. Rather, what if the emotional state of humans is the actual cause of the weather we experience? What if the angry and fearful behavior of humans creates the volcanic disturbances in the weather?
We're living in a violent period of earth history. Civil discourse and respect for one another has taken a back seat. It's evident in how we treat each other, the litter we leave on beaches and parks, and the value we place on the self and personal gain. If an argument in a heated moment can poison the atmosphere between friends so powerfully that it's felt when others come into contact with them, then it seems logical that contaminated atmosphere will also radiate out as
part of the weather? Enough heated arguments (wars, election campaigns) will create disastrous storms because our personal "atmosphere" is affected and so too is the overall global weather atmosphere.
Us and the weather
When Pir Vilayat said "look for that which transpires behind that which appears" that phrase becomes a directive for each of us to carefully observe our actions and make a determination on how we're influencing others. We are not alone in this! We are inter-connected as one being. What happens to one of us happens to the whole. That includes our affect on the environment and weather.
Jo Mooy - August 2016