The death toll in Alibam due to the heat wave has now officially reached 12. [Link] As always we wonder how these things are exactly determined but for the instant we’ll give the benefit for the accuracy of the number.
I am told that dying by cold is not nearly as unpleasant as dying by heat. Such assertion are always viewed with a bit of wonder. How was this data collected? Is it dependent on the observations of people who almost died, and if so, how does one measure how close they came to being dead?
Nonetheless, the assertion has a certain logic to it that we may only hope is not the totality of the underpinning. As temperature decreases, thermal motion decreases and there is less thermal energy available for variance from the mean. Hence chemical reactions usually slow down when it is cold and speed up when it is hot. In this context it is possible to hypothesize that if chemical reactions slow down in the cold then consciousness and sentience decreases as well, and visa versa for hot. In the cold we become less aware of everything while in the heat all sensations, including the bad ones, are intensified.
Nonetheless, we are still lessened by this heat wave, and expect that this is merely a preview of coming events as global climate change intensifies. Such thing, as we have seen, are largely alien to the interests of American politicians, so we may expect no help from Montgomery, indeed, we have to ask why we should expect anything at all except fraud, theft, and taxes.
On the other hand, the recent discovery of Chororapithecus Abyssinicus in Ethiopia has pushed the human-ape split back prior to 10.5 MYA. [Link] Deaths due to heat were, of course, much more common in those days, as were deaths by being eaten by carnivores. Such matters are also anathema to politicians since almost all such are observably creationists since that doctrine is much more amenable to political advancement and success than is rational science.
What becomes interesting however, is that there is no discernible genetic difference between politicians and the rest of homo sapiens, leading us to hypothesize that politicians, scientists, and religionists are all aspects of the species. Did homo erectus and neandertalensis have politicians? There is some evidence that neandertalensis had some sort of religious practice based on burial goods, although this may be nothing more than basic human nature. After all, even atheists and agnostics have been known to bury their dead with dignity and reverence.
Sadly we are closer to knowing whether erectus and neandertalensis were cannibals – sapiens patently is – than whether they had individuals distinguished by their extremes of rationality, superstition, and whatever it is that distinguished politicians. But then it is not clear that we have that understanding for our own species.