How has climate influenced population patterns throughout the Americas?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Climate has had a significant impact on population patterns in the Americas.  However, with the increasing power of technology, climate no longer has the impact that it once did on the populations of rich countries such as the United States.

Climate has influenced population patterns in fairly predictable ways.  Very few people choose to live in places with extreme temperatures.  It is also very difficult to get enough food to live on in such climates.  Therefore, there were historically very few people living in such places as the Arctic Circle or in deserts such as the Mojave Desert. 

Climate has also helped to make other parts of the Americas less populated.  For example, the American states of North and South Dakota as well as Wyoming and Montana are relatively lightly populated.  Much of this is because the climate is not suitable for the large-scale farming of very valuable crops.  This has made it so that these areas did not develop much in the way of cities.

Today, however, technology has lessened the impact of climate.  For example, since WWII, the American “Sun Belt” has grown rapidly in population.  This region was once lightly populated due to the hot (and in some places humid) nature of the climate.  Since WWII, however, air conditioning and other technology has made it much more feasible to live in such places.  This has changed the population patterns significantly.

Thus, climate was once more important in determining population patterns than it is now.

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