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View Full Version : Which Is Harder-Living In Extreme Heat or Extreme Cold?



Mr. Milton Banana
2005-Aug-03, 02:50 AM
On my thread about breathing CO2 snow @ -111 F, I got to thinking again...

Given that humans have lived in extremes of +110 F to as low as -110 F (a 220 degree difference), I'd like to ask you folks another question.

Which do you think is more difficult? Living in extreme heat or extreme cold? Why?

Thanks.

8)

the_shaggy_one
2005-Aug-03, 02:55 AM
I live in a place where it gets both reasonably hot and very cold. I have personally experienced, in my front yard, temperatures ranging from 105 degrees to -35 degrees. Interestingly, the average of those two values is right around freezing. I like the cold more.

Mr. Milton Banana
2005-Aug-03, 02:59 AM
I live in a place where it gets both reasonably hot and very cold. I have personally experienced, in my front yard, temperatures ranging from 105 degrees to -35 degrees. Interestingly, the average of those two values is right around freezing. I like the cold more.

Why do you prefer the cold? :)

driftlight
2005-Aug-03, 03:03 AM
Obviously because you can't go downhill skiing when it's not cold.

Cold > Hot

(although I don't mind either of them all that much)

I'm not an expert on it or anything, but it seems like it'd be more difficult to keep the heat from escaping your body than to prevent it from getting in, so it'd be harder to live in extreme cold than extreme heat.

Edit: Also, I think that -110 is more extreme than 110 for some reason. Probably because the temperature that morst people are comfortable at is 60-80.

Edit2: the_shaggy_one, you're from Minnesota? Cool, me too. Twin Cities area.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Aug-03, 03:24 AM
I am more uncomfortable in extreme heat than extreme cold however cold is much more difficult to cope with. Cold temperatures are hard on vehicles and other equipment and water pipes in the house start to freeze.

When I was younger I was a volunteer firefighter. Once the temperature started going below -40 we could always count on a house fire due to an over worked furnace or someone doing something stupid with a portable heater. Trying to keep pumps and hoses from freezing up during cold like that was a nightmare.

Chuck
2005-Aug-03, 03:56 AM
In Phoenix, Arizona a daytime high in the summer is typically around 105F to 110F. The hottest I've experienced was 122F back in the nineties. It's very dry here though. That makes a big difference. It's nice here in the winter. It rarely drops to freezing even at night. In the summer we mostly scurry from one air conditioned building to another. I don't have a car to worry about. I bicycle five miles per day to get to work and back. The heat isn't bad in the morning and it doesn't matter if I'm a sweaty mess when I get home.

I'm living in the wrong place, though. I'd rather have it too cold than too hot. I can always put on more clothes but can take off only so much before getting arrested.

novaderrik
2005-Aug-03, 05:00 AM
i'll take -30 degrees F over 110 degrees F any day- as it gets colder, you can add more layers. you can only take so much off in the heat.
now, if we ever get one of those "Day after Tomorrow" cold air hurricane things, then my opinion might change..

the_shaggy_one
2005-Aug-03, 05:39 AM
I live in a place where it gets both reasonably hot and very cold. I have personally experienced, in my front yard, temperatures ranging from 105 degrees to -35 degrees. Interestingly, the average of those two values is right around freezing. I like the cold more.

Why do you prefer the cold? :)

I'd rather be in a room chilled to 40 degrees and wear a light sweater than in 90-degree heat. I do make a large exception for saunas. The hottest one of those I've ever been in was a good 230 degrees. In the middle of the night during winter, so when we jumped into the lake, it was through a hole in the ice. It was also 10 below. That's a 240-degree temperature difference between the outside temperature and the sauna.

On the whole, though, I find it easier to keep warm than to try and cool off. Being cold is less uncomfortable than being hot. Driving with snow and ice on the ground is also a lot more exciting. I have other reasons, but they are not an appropriate topic of discussion on this board...

Jens
2005-Aug-03, 05:50 AM
Which do you think is more difficult? Living in extreme heat or extreme cold? Why?


I think there could be two interpretations of this question. One is, which is more enjoyable, and the other, which is more survivable? Although personally I like cold weather better, I think probably that as long as you have a good supply of water and some shade, very hot temperature is probably more easily survivable than low temperature, if technology is not available.

Gillianren
2005-Aug-03, 07:13 AM
I've become a hot-weather wimp since the move to Washington ten years ago. it's been in the 80s lately, and I've been dying. according to my mother, it's in the high 90s and higher back in LA.

the thing about stripping is that not only will you eventually strip enough to get arrested, you can't strip any further than that, and you'll still be overheated. just keep adding layers, and you'll be okay in the cold, but you only have so many layers to take off in the heat.

2005-Aug-03, 10:10 AM
I live in a place where it gets both reasonably hot and very cold. I have personally experienced, in my front yard, temperatures ranging from 105 degrees to -35 degrees. Interestingly, the average of those two values is right around freezing. I like the cold more.

Why do you prefer the cold? :)

I'd rather be in a room chilled to 40 degrees and wear a light sweater than in 90-degree heat. I do make a large exception for saunas. The hottest one of those I've ever been in was a good 230 degrees. In the middle of the night during winter, so when we jumped into the lake, it was through a hole in the ice. It was also 10 below. That's a 240-degree temperature difference between the outside temperature and the sauna.

On the whole, though, I find it easier to keep warm than to try and cool off. Being cold is less uncomfortable than being hot. Driving with snow and ice on the ground is also a lot more exciting. I have other reasons, but they are not an appropriate topic of discussion on this board...

The winter overs at the South Pole have a tradition of "The 300 Club" (not officially sanctioned). When the outside temperature drops to -85F they get the sauna up to 215F, strip, soak up heat, then run outside for a group foto. The station doctor insists that they wear boots.

Mr. Milton Banana
2005-Aug-03, 01:48 PM
I live in a place where it gets both reasonably hot and very cold. I have personally experienced, in my front yard, temperatures ranging from 105 degrees to -35 degrees. Interestingly, the average of those two values is right around freezing. I like the cold more.

Why do you prefer the cold? :)

I'd rather be in a room chilled to 40 degrees and wear a light sweater than in 90-degree heat. I do make a large exception for saunas. The hottest one of those I've ever been in was a good 230 degrees. In the middle of the night during winter, so when we jumped into the lake, it was through a hole in the ice. It was also 10 below. That's a 240-degree temperature difference between the outside temperature and the sauna.

On the whole, though, I find it easier to keep warm than to try and cool off. Being cold is less uncomfortable than being hot. Driving with snow and ice on the ground is also a lot more exciting. I have other reasons, but they are not an appropriate topic of discussion on this board...

The winter overs at the South Pole have a tradition of "The 300 Club" (not officially sanctioned). When the outside temperature drops to -85F they get the sauna up to 215F, strip, soak up heat, then run outside for a group foto. The station doctor insists that they wear boots.

Wrong. :) The temperature must drop below -100 F. Then, after soaking in a sauna for 20 minutes, they run outside naked to the top of the snow drift-or if possible, to the south pole and back. I've read cases where folks have gotten frost-bitten lungs, and one person told of the flesh on his shoulders freezing and cracking when he moved. :P

Those folks are Cukoo for Co-Co Puffs. :P :o :roll:

Maksutov
2005-Aug-03, 01:48 PM
I live in a place where it gets both reasonably hot and very cold. I have personally experienced, in my front yard, temperatures ranging from 105 degrees to -35 degrees. Interestingly, the average of those two values is right around freezing. I like the cold more.
As a native New Englander transplanted to the South, give me real cold.

Pleasant memories include skiing at Killington when it was -25 F, digging a snow tunnel to my car in the Adirondacks when it was approaching -30 F, and -35 F (-80 F wind chill) on the Presidential Range in New Hampshire.

Beautiful weather!

And, eschatologically speaking,
Robert Frost
2. Fire and Ice
(From Harpers Magazine, December 1920.)


SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what Ive tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

N C More
2005-Aug-03, 01:56 PM
Frankly, I'm a "weenie"...I hate both extremes. I find both freezing and frying to be very unpleasant! :(

2005-Aug-03, 02:12 PM
I live in a place where it gets both reasonably hot and very cold. I have personally experienced, in my front yard, temperatures ranging from 105 degrees to -35 degrees. Interestingly, the average of those two values is right around freezing. I like the cold more.

Why do you prefer the cold? :)

I'd rather be in a room chilled to 40 degrees and wear a light sweater than in 90-degree heat. I do make a large exception for saunas. The hottest one of those I've ever been in was a good 230 degrees. In the middle of the night during winter, so when we jumped into the lake, it was through a hole in the ice. It was also 10 below. That's a 240-degree temperature difference between the outside temperature and the sauna.

On the whole, though, I find it easier to keep warm than to try and cool off. Being cold is less uncomfortable than being hot. Driving with snow and ice on the ground is also a lot more exciting. I have other reasons, but they are not an appropriate topic of discussion on this board...

The winter overs at the South Pole have a tradition of "The 300 Club" (not officially sanctioned). When the outside temperature drops to -85F they get the sauna up to 215F, strip, soak up heat, then run outside for a group foto. The station doctor insists that they wear boots.

Wrong. :) The temperature must drop below -100 F. Then, after soaking in a sauna for 20 minutes, they run outside naked to the top of the snow drift-or if possible, to the south pole and back. I've read cases where folks have gotten frost-bitten lungs, and one person told of the flesh on his shoulders freezing and cracking when he moved. :P

Those folks are Cukoo for Co-Co Puffs. :P :o :roll:

Thanks for the correction ... I was only there in the summer when it never dropped below -35F or so ...

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Aug-03, 02:24 PM
When I was young I loved the cold. But over the years I have frozen my hands and feet a number of times and now I have a hard time keeping them warm in winter, no matter good my mittens and boots are. I no longer enjoy winter.

Ilya
2005-Aug-03, 02:30 PM
People live in both Costa Rica and Alaska.

You can survive naked in Costa Rica.

You can not survive naked in Alaska.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Aug-03, 02:45 PM
People live in both Costa Rica and Alaska.

You can survive naked in Costa Rica.

You can not survive naked in Alaska.

The sums it up quite well.

I recall reading in some anthropology book that the unclothed human requires a temperature average of around 80F. It was not until people learned to make clothing that they could expand into more hostile climates.

Grey
2005-Aug-03, 03:47 PM
People live in both Costa Rica and Alaska.

You can survive naked in Costa Rica.

You can not survive naked in Alaska.
That's true, but a quick check shows that the highest temperature in Costa Rica in the last few years was about 108 F, while someplace like Death Valley often reaches above 120 F, and has been recorded as high as 134 F. Can you survive naked in Death Valley?

Ilya
2005-Aug-03, 03:54 PM
People live in both Costa Rica and Alaska.

You can survive naked in Costa Rica.

You can not survive naked in Alaska.
That's true, but a quick check shows that the highest temperature in Costa Rica in the last few years was about 108 F, while someplace like Death Valley often reaches above 120 F, and has been recorded as high as 134 F. Can you survive naked in Death Valley?

No you can not, but note I originally picked Costa Rica and Alaska, not Death Valley and Antarctica. People live (as in, raise children) in the former two, not the latter two.

John Kierein
2005-Aug-03, 03:58 PM
I thought I was going blind this morning in St. Louis. Actually it was just that as I was getting out of the air-conditioned car going into the humidity, my glasses fogged up. Humidity makes a big difference.

Two cliches in Phoenix: 1. It's a dry heat; 2. You don't have to shovel heat.

Grey
2005-Aug-03, 05:50 PM
No you can not, but note I originally picked Costa Rica and Alaska, not Death Valley and Antarctica. People live (as in, raise children) in the former two, not the latter two.
Fair enough, though one might argue that the peak temperature in Costa Rica is only about 40 F above the ideal temperature of about 70 F, while the low temperature in Alaska is rather colder than 30 F (the same 40 F value), which would probably be survivable, though not fun. So, though I don't really want to make a big issue here :), one might argue that it's not the direction, but the fact that Alaska is a more extreme climate than Costa Rica that causes the problem.

logicboy
2005-Aug-03, 06:40 PM
I thought I was going blind this morning in St. Louis. Actually it was just that as I was getting out of the air-conditioned car going into the humidity, my glasses fogged up. Humidity makes a big difference.

Two cliches in Phoenix: 1. It's a dry heat; 2. You don't have to shovel heat.

23 years living in Phoenix the "Dry Heat" is not all that bad, kind of like a giant blast furnace thats slowing turning you into jerky. It would be a lot better here if it rained more often. Everyone goes nutz over rain.

Donnie B.
2005-Aug-03, 06:51 PM
Consider this: it's possible to survive (with protection) at temperatures well below 0F. Let's use that as a practical limit, for argument's sake.

That's about 100F below normal body temperature.

Does anyone here think (s)he could survive for long if the temperature were 100F above normal body temperature?

----

Maybe that's unfair; we're allowing for protection (clothing) at low temperatures. So let's level the playing field. One can survive unprotected for quite a long time -- perhaps indefinitely -- at temperatures around 50F. I do not believe you can do the same at 150F.

The fact is, our metabolisms are designed to cope with low temperatures much better than high ones, relative to our normal internal temperature. That's just thermodynamics -- we generate heat, and it has to be shed somewhere.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Aug-03, 07:44 PM
One can survive unprotected for quite a long time -- perhaps indefinitely -- at temperatures around 50F.

One Word -- Hypothermia


The fact is, our metabolisms are designed to cope with low temperatures much better than high ones, relative to our normal internal temperature. That's just thermodynamics -- we generate heat, and it has to be shed somewhere.

Yeah we generate heat, but it takes a lot of fuel to do so. As the temperature goes down the fuel need goes up. Then we reach a point where no matter how much we eat we can not maintain body temperature. Take a look at the places people lived before they figured out how to make clothes. Hot places and warm places, that's it.

pumpkinpie
2005-Aug-03, 07:54 PM
Which do you think is more difficult? Living in extreme heat or extreme cold? Why?


I think there could be two interpretations of this question. One is, which is more enjoyable, and the other, which is more survivable? Although personally I like cold weather better, I think probably that as long as you have a good supply of water and some shade, very hot temperature is probably more easily survivable than low temperature, if technology is not available.

From the recent heatwave in Phoenix, there were reports of people dying. In the winter in cold climates, there are reports of people dying of exposure/hypothermia. So someone could look into those specifics--how many people die in a heat wave vs. a cold wave. It would be hard to figure out exactly how to configure the statistics to really be able to compare, but I think doing that would shed some light on the "more survivable" question.

Taks
2005-Aug-03, 08:29 PM
I thought I was going blind this morning in St. Louis. Actually it was just that as I was getting out of the air-conditioned car going into the humidity, my glasses fogged up. Humidity makes a big difference.
say hi to my family in friends while you are there! yes, st. louis is miserable this time of year. near 100 F with near 100% humidity. what a city. i have the opposite problem in colorado springs. i actually had a friend talk about how it feels muggy above 22% humidity... hehe.

anyway, i'm not sure you can really answer which is harder to live in. the first thought that comes to mind is define harder. the second thought is relative to what? heat (the feeling of hot), and coldness, are nothing more than perceptions of the ambient environment. comparing -110 to +110 really doesn't mean anything since 0 (in F) is just some arbitrary location on a temperature.

people die of exposure in temperatures well above freezing and well below boiling point. i think a hot death is probably more painful, including seizures and the like, whereas a cold death is rather peaceful once hypothermia sets in. either way, stand outside for 10 minutes naked, in the shade, first in -110 degree weather and then again in 110 degree weather and talk about which is worse. tough call, but i'd bet the -110 will kill you first.

taks

Gillianren
2005-Aug-03, 09:07 PM
yeah, but I'll wish I was dead a lot faster in 110 weather.

mikeh9741
2005-Aug-03, 09:15 PM
It would be interesting to do a study about the impact of advances in climate control technology on migration.

Grey
2005-Aug-03, 09:42 PM
the second thought is relative to what? heat (the feeling of hot), and coldness, are nothing more than perceptions of the ambient environment. comparing -110 to +110 really doesn't mean anything since 0 (in F) is just some arbitrary location on a temperature.
Well, that's why some of us were using either room temperature or body temperature as better starting points. So, if we use 110 F as the amount to change up or down, that would give us -10 F and 210 F if we pick body temperature as the baseline. Neither sounds fun, but I'll bet you could handle the subzero better than almost boiling. If we start at a nice comfortable 70 F, that gives us -40 F or 180 F. That's a tougher call, I think. I'm not sure which of those would kill you more quickly, though the technology needed to handle that level of cold is probably less sophisticated than what you'd need to survive that kind of heat.

the_shaggy_one
2005-Aug-03, 10:18 PM
One can survive unprotected for quite a long time -- perhaps indefinitely -- at temperatures around 50F.

One Word -- Hypothermia



Not quite. 50 degrees, while a little cool, isn't so chilly that you couldn't make up for it with a thin layer of fat and a high-calorie diet. I'm still in shorts and t-shirts at that temperature.

fossilnut2
2005-Aug-03, 10:23 PM
Here in Calgary) get up to about 30c in the summer (average around 25c) and down to minus 30c or so in Winter (usually minus 15c or so). I definitely enjoy the cold more. You can always add a blanket or sweater in the cold but you can only take so much off.

I like our high altitude summers. Hot sunny days but then cool nights. Today it's sunny skies and up around 28 or so (80 F.) but tonight will cool down to where I put my PJs on and slip under a blanket. I especially like it when we hike in the Rockies and it cools as we gain altitude...nothing like sitting on the tongue of a glacier in July.

I just feel healthier and more invigorated in the winter. I can cross country ski or skate, play hockey outdoors and just 'feel great'. In summer I feel sluggish at times.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Aug-03, 10:33 PM
Not quite. 50 degrees, while a little cool, isn't so chilly that you couldn't make up for it with a thin layer of fat and a high-calorie diet. I'm still in shorts and t-shirts at that temperature.

So am I. But the shorts and t-shirt are covering the primary body mass. When it gets down to 50 degrees, go and spend a week outside naked. Then get back to me and let me know how it went.

Donnie B.
2005-Aug-03, 11:14 PM
Not quite. 50 degrees, while a little cool, isn't so chilly that you couldn't make up for it with a thin layer of fat and a high-calorie diet. I'm still in shorts and t-shirts at that temperature.

So am I. But the shorts and t-shirt are covering the primary body mass. When it gets down to 50 degrees, go and spend a week outside naked. Then get back to me and let me know how it went.
Well, my point was that you'd live a lot longer, and more comfortably, at 50F than you would at 150F.

Mr. Milton Banana
2005-Aug-04, 12:03 AM
Interesting responses & discussions. Thanks, everyone. :)

erisi236
2005-Aug-04, 04:09 PM
Well, if you were dumped naked somewhere, you'd probably live much longer somewhere that was 100F as opposed to -100F :P

Sock Munkey
2005-Aug-04, 09:54 PM
Depends on how much water or firewood you have access to.

the_shaggy_one
2005-Aug-04, 11:49 PM
Well, if you were dumped naked somewhere, you'd probably live much longer somewhere that was 100F as opposed to -100F :P

This isn't very meaningful. Naked is probably the preferred condition for 100F. Try surviving at 100F while dressed for -100F, then tell me which is easier.

Tunga
2005-Aug-05, 07:49 PM
Both extremes can stress survivability but I think extreme cold is a greater stresser.

A blizzard hit this neck of the woods in Indiana in 1978. It dropped temperatures down to -30 degrees F. A friend of mine, Tom Bishop woke up in the middle of the night to find his electrical power out. His house was heated with fuel oil. The power was out for only 2 hours, but when it came back online, his oil had turned to gel in the cold and therefore he was unable to restart the furnace. He loaded his family up in the car and headed to his parents house. A few miles down the road, he blew 2 tires.

In extreme cold, we rely on our infrastructure. Even a small break in the infrastructure can turn into a life and death situation.

My brother, David, lives up in Alaska. He routinely lives in cold -50 degrees F. At those temperatures, even metals can become brittle. It is not uncommon for individuals to get in their vehicles and put their car into gear only to break off the shifter.

When I think of -100 deg F weather, I shutter. One mistake can be fatal.

On the other extreme, heat can be harsh. I was out in the desert in +130 deg F weather. I spent the day exploring underground mine shafts. The temperature was a cool +70 deg F underground. When I came up in the late afternoon, I heard about a boy who died from the heat while driving a 4 wheeler.

I have personally experience hypothermia where the heat engine in the body shuts down and the other extreme heatstoke. I have also experienced 2nd degree burns from the sun. I feel it is easier to survive the heat than the cold.

Ilya
2005-Aug-05, 09:11 PM
Not quite. 50 degrees, while a little cool, isn't so chilly that you couldn't make up for it with a thin layer of fat and a high-calorie diet. I'm still in shorts and t-shirts at that temperature.

So am I. But the shorts and t-shirt are covering the primary body mass. When it gets down to 50 degrees, go and spend a week outside naked. Then get back to me and let me know how it went.

Yes, sleeping outside naked in 50 F can give you hypothermia very easily.

This whole discussion is skewed by the fact that human body temperature is not in the middle of Earth's temperature range -- it is MUCH closer to the upper end.

Minbari
2005-Aug-11, 03:03 AM
I've been aught in 45 Degree Celcius heat fo a long period and almost died as there was no way to cool off, even thewater was 30+C.

I have lived in minus 15 celsius and found it easy to warm mysel up, we can make fire without power but not ice so IMHO it is a given that the cool is easier from a survivable poijnt of view.

Try the desert heat with a 20 knot wind in your face, so hot tat it hurts your eyes.

gopher65
2005-Aug-11, 03:41 AM
I work in a kitchen where the temperature regularily exceeds 60C (140F). It is very uncomfortable, and I can literally drink and sweat out 6 liters of water in an eight hour shift without managing to stave off dehydration. You could not survive for long at 140F.

jkmccrann
2005-Nov-03, 04:36 PM
I think it completely depends on how you define extreme. And extreme from what? But if you look at the world, there are a lot more people living in equatorial regions than in polar ones, so you'd have to assume that people generally prefer warmer weather than cooler weather.

I'd have to add my vote to that. Being an Australian, one can't have too many beaches! :):):)

Swift
2005-Nov-03, 08:24 PM
This whole discussion is skewed by the fact that human body temperature is not in the middle of Earth's temperature range -- it is MUCH closer to the upper end.
Which would be how I would design a system. More proof that the "designer" did a bad job designing? :think:

:p