03 December 2007


Most people have probably never seen snow

In a comment on one of my photos of the first real snowstorm of the season yesterday (it's almost all melted now, by the way), an Australian reader noted that he had never seen snow first-hand in his life.

That's a strange concept for any Canadian, but I started thinking about it and realized that not only did our hominid predecessors evolve in parts of Africa where it never snows, even today the great centres of human population—some of the most densely inhabited parts of China, the vast majority of India, Indonesia, almost all of Africa, the supercities of South America, and elsewhere—are also largely snow-free zones.

In other words, it has probably always been true that a big proportion, and likely the majority, of the human species has never experienced snow. And despite much easier travel, that is becoming more true as populations and climate shift. It's amazing that any number of us, from the Inuit, to the mountain dwellers of Peru and Afghanistan, to the bureaucrats in Ottawa, Vienna, and Ulan Bator, can handle the white stuff at all.

Does anyone have any data to back up my theory?

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While reading your post, I remembered something I had seen earlier this year:
First snow in Buenos Aires for the first time in almost 90 years.

Really surprised me, too.
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to drive across the US. San Francisco to Philadelphia. I was amazed at how many people we met that had never seen an ocean.

In looking at a list of the top 20 most populous cities in the world, it seems to only snow in about 5 - 6 of them.

Like the ocean, snow is one of those things that I took for granted and didn't realize that most people never saw it. Snow is awesome to see. Not so cool to shovel.
hi - as a native californian, i had never seen snow until i was 27 years old and living in japan. at the time i didn't even realize it was snowing as there were some kids feed birds and i thought it was bird seed coming down on me!
That's particularly interesting because there are plenty of places in California, within less than a day's drive of wherever you are (even if that's San Diego), that get plenty of snow.