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labor and heat


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To what extent can the labor-intensivity of cold-climate economies be attributed to the need to keep warm in winter? Is it possible that modern indoor temperature expectations have evolved with industrialization, i.e. that as factory work became more popular and gradually replaced more and more human labor with machines that generate waste-heat, the workers became gradually accustomed to being able to relax indoors in the winter? Could you say that this ushered in a post-industrial culture of comfortable indoor leisure during winter? Now that industrialism has evolved into more or less consistent series of energy-crises, will culture further evolve in the direction of engendering more indoor labor or other physical activities to reduce heating-levels or will some other approach(es) be developed to deal with increasing fuel-scarcity?

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is a a thought-provoking question.



In pre-industrial times, people who lived in warm southern climes had it easy.

They basked in the ever-present sunshine, plucked abundant fruit, and generally lazed about.


Whereas the people who lived the cold north, had a harder time. They had to get through long winters. During these winters, they needed fires to keep them warm. The fires required fuel. And the only fuel available was wood. The wood was in trees. So the trees had to be chopped down. And all this chopping was hard work. The people thought: "Beggar this!"


So they invented internal-combustion engines, electric motors, chain-saws, ships, submarines, cars, trains, aeroplanes,spacecraft,satellites, tractors, combine harvesters, artificial fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, x-rays, anaesthetics, dentures, prosthetic limbs, transplant surgery, radio, television, computers, telescopes, microscopes, reading, writing, printed books, glass windows, locks, keys, toilet paper, soap, washing powder, matches, sheets, blankets, mattresses, armchairs, wine, beer, microwave ovens, dishwashers, bicycles, compasses, prisms, rulers, atomic power-stations, and a lot of other things.


This made the northern people very happy, but the southern people were unhappy, because it showed they were incompetent. This caused the northern people to feel guilty, so as a symbolic act, they decided to get rid of their atomic power stations, and build thousands of giant windmills instead.


The windmills required a lot of labor to build, and did beggar all, but they took the heat off the northern people.

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Um, my point was that technological progress has deprived people in cold climates of the natural function of manual labor to generate body heat. I don't know what feeling guilty and building windmills has to do with it. Waste-heat generating factories evolved into a culture of waste-heat supported relaxation, even as the factories were being automated or exported. Still the culture/demand for warmth continues, only now there is less association between heat and labor. So heat has become a product instead of a by-product of industry. I think you could say that warmer climates have also become alienated from their more climate-natural cultures with air-conditioning and the labor and lifestyle practices that have evolved as a result. Lots of energy is wasted for people in warm climates to wear constricting clothing and stay busy while lots of energy is wasted for people in cold climates to relax indoors during cold months.

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