Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.

From Cleantechnica:

Americans are obsessed with living by the ocean, just as are people in most other countries around the world. Followers of Darwin believe humans are descended from sea creatures. Our blood is almost exactly the same pH and salinity as ocean water.

Even those who don't live by the ocean take vacations at the beach. We seem to have an atavistic imperative to return to the sea baked into our DNA.

Yes, in Western and European cultures, populations are denser near the coast; there is a premium on homes with a sea view; we like going to the beach.

I read somewhere that early humans preferred the sea side because they found it easier to catch fish than hunt animals. That seems very plausible.

Then we developed shipping, so that is where the ports were, so that is where people were. Why do I live in London? Ultimately, it's because the Romans decided it would be a good place for a port and it snowballed from there, even though the port is now barely relevant (if it even still exists).

The above explanation - marred as it is by the strange phrase "followers of Darwin"(are modern scientists to be described as "followers of Newton"?) - is superficially appealing.

But if this were true, then it would be true for "most" mammals, and I'm not aware that "most" other mammal species prefer the coast to inland. For sure, seals and polar bears do, and dolphins and whales spent so much time on the coast that they evolved back into aquatic animals.

But on the whole, most mammals seem to prefer dry land. Vegetarian mammals simply aren't interested in fish. So therefore, the explanation seems like complete bollocks. As is the rest of the article.


Lola said...

The Romans settled London because it was the first place from the estuary where a crossing was possible. That made the port inevitable. From memory the Romans were not the first to identify London as the first crossing point. I think that has been evidence of a ford / causeway before the Romans. So London was a route centre not just a port. Most cities are 'route centres'. In fact most settlements are. There are other factors like the downlands 'spring line villages'.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, all true. So I'm here because it was a good point for a bridge or crossing. And they probably weren't here first.

Rich Tee said...

I've always wondered why we find space and other planets so beautiful and fascinating when ancient man had no knowledge of them and could not see them except as stars in the sky. Also why so many of us like flying even though it is a recent development in human evolution.

I eventually concluded that there is just something evolutionary in human nature that makes us curious and crave adventure. I think the desire to be by the sea is a facet of that, as well as the practical reasons mentioned as well.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RT, seaside and waves. A hint of adventure and romance. Tea clippers, smugglers, pirates. Watching big waves crash into the sea front. I love it as much as anybody else.

Dr Evil said...

After 11 or 13 years at school and possibly 3 plus years at university we still get people writing this utter nonsense. It has nothing to do with blood salinity nor its pH.
It's just aesthetics in the end.

ontheotherhand said...

The tradeoff for ancient humans was that if you lived somewhere with great resources, all your enemies wanted it too, and other humans were the most dangerous thing. I guess that if a village/tribe takes a territory near the sea, at least one direction of attack was ruled out (until 'modern' history and navies).

Mark Wadsworth said...

DrE, that's a shorter version of my post.

OTOH, maybe, but you have also cut off one line of escape. If you go back far enough, there weren't that many humans and there was plenty of coast line to go round, and they settled there first.

They didn't start fighting with each other or moving inland until all the coast line was occupied.

If you're inland and get attacked, you just go somewhere else. And this process then continues until all useable land is occupied. Then you get borders and nation states etc.

James Higham said...

That's most profound, Mark, at this Coronavirus time.

Robin Smith said...

Have you seen the work of Michael J Cremo? On first sight he looks and sounds nutty. But so did Leibnitz and Copernicus. Sigh! The Sheeple