To understand the importance of temperature for the sustainability of life on earth we have to examine how our environment looks like in different climate zones, i.e. at different average temperatures around the year, with different ranges and extremes of temperature. These are central in climate issues and the ongoing debate on the impacts of global warming.
How cold is cold and how hot is hot is, for several reasons, important for us to know. This is not only vital for our lives and living environments but also how the technology we are dependent on in our houses, cities and villages operates. Temperature has several impacts on biological, chemical and physical reactions/behavior of everything around us. Human bodies, for example, have an optimum universal temperature of 37 degrees Celsius for healthy functioning and few degrees change in this temperature may indicate threats and even endanger lives. For other species temperature is also important, elephants wouldn’t survive in Siberia as much as beers wouldn’t exist in “Death Depression”. However, reindeers are perfectly suited for Siberia and camels can survive the harsh conditions of Sahara, deserts and even the heat of “Death Depression”. Temperature has several impacts on water, in hot arid zones you would never find fresh surface-water as is the case of “Death Depression”, and at the very low temperatures of Siberia you wouldn’t find water running on the surface either, i.e. only snow or ice. In both cases, you would have either desert or “permafrost”, i.e. permanently frozen soils, with little on no possibility for agriculture, food, controlled animal husbandry and production.
What concerns technology, there are no need for refrigerators in Siberia and no need for warming houses by fire/electricity in Kenya or Tanzania. Construction of ventilation, water piping and sanitation facilities as well as transport, communication and health-care infrastructures can be much different in very hot and very cold areas. Costs and operation of public and private services and infrastructures would be much different at extreme temperature and weather conditions. We have to take in consideration that different extreme temperatures mean different extreme weather conditions as well. In some cases, functioning and maintenance would be costly, technically complex or even unrealistic. Also, for the agriculture, i.e. food, feed, fuel and fiber production, consumption and conservation of natural resources.
We can feel heat/cold through the “sense” of our skin that has “sensors” to tell about the how hot/cold objectives around us are. But, this is in narrow limits of temperature range “hot/cold” and with cost of damaging the skin and/or the body. Thermometers or heat/cold “sensors” are much better instruments to measure the temperature, i.e. the property that describes how hot or cold things are and in terms of absolute units. Among international units to measure the temperature is degrees Celsius, however other systems of units exist, e.g. degrees Fahrenheit in the US. Anders Celsius, Swedish scientist, came with the elegant “Celsius” scale for measuring the temperature by relating it to the properties of water at sea level, i.e. where the atmospheric pressure is defined to be normal. The zero degrees Celsius is where water gets frozen and 100 degrees Celsius is when water boils.
Additional examples of life conditions at extreme temperatures and weather conditions will be given and described on other occasions.