Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/174

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tion, Britain stands close to the ideal, while Germany or Russia may be taken as representative of the opposite extreme.

Position Climatically. Extremes of Climate.—The seats of the early nations of the world, alike in the matter of separation, do not show the same degree of uniformity in climatic characteristics. Their positions climatically, however, do suggest that the extremes of climate are unfavorable to national development. The extremes of cold and of great aridity prohibit cultivation of the soil and thus immediately remove the essential basis of national development. Far northern peoples and desert tribes may utilize their meager opportunities with much greater skill than the most highly civilized man could, hence with respect to their opportunities they are in no sense backward or unprogressive. Yet the burden of satisfying human needs is so great that the people must remain relatively unprogressive and can not develop nationally. They represent a close parallel to the natives of some of the islands of the Pacific Ocean, where the absence of all metals in the coral reefs has prevented a people, highly skilled in many ways, from advancing into a metal age.

The extremes of heat and moisture, when combined, are conducive to the development of extravagant forms of both plant and animal life in superlative abundance. To conquer these rival forms of life and establish himself successfully on an agricultural basis is a difficult task even for the highly civilized man, with every modern appliance at his command. Primitive man, therefore, under these conditions finds himself generally unable to rise above the plane of the forest dweller. At the same time the small need for clothing and shelter, coupled with the ease of gratifying all physical wants from the bounty of nature, favors inaction which is always hostile to progress. For these reasons, national qualities and civilizations have not been developed among the primitive groups of the equatorial rainy sections.

Intermediate Types of Climate.—The intermediate climatic types are the only ones under which national evolution from the primitive group has taken place and where high stages of national civilizations have been developed. In these cases, the climatic conditions impose demands for food, clothing and shelter, beyond the possibilities of the unaided bounty of nature to supply, yet capable of satisfaction through a fair amount of human effort.

This idea of a climatic stimulus as a basis for human progress and the evolution of nations, is commonly expressed in the phrase "spur of the seasons." Too often, however, the spur of the seasons is assumed to mean a winter, or a period when low temperatures cause plant activities to cease temporarily, and therefore require, for the human being, not only the provision of warm clothing and substantial shelter, but also the accumulation of stores of food. This concept