Our Gemara on Amud Aleph records a jibe from Rav Yirmiya regarding the Babylonian scholars: “Foolish Babylonians! Since you live in a dark climate, you offer teachings which are unclear and dim.”

There is an intuitive truth to the idea that climate and environment affect mood and function. There is a form of depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which seems to be brought on in the dark winter months as a result of loss of sunlight. Some people with depression experience a worsening of symptoms during the dark cold winter months, and others experience independent depression symptoms that come up seasonally. There are treatments that involve using special light boxes for about 30 minutes a day that provide light of a wave length that is similar to sunlight. ( https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651 )

Also of note, the Rambam in Shemoneh Perakim (5) suggests various outdoors and creative activities as a treatment for depression:

One who suffers from melancholia may rid himself of it by listening to singing and all kinds of instrumental music, by strolling through beautiful gardens and splendid buildings, by gazing upon beautiful pictures, and other things that enliven the mind, and dissipate gloomy moods. The purpose of all this is to restore the healthful condition of the body, but the real object in maintaining the body in good health is to acquire wisdom.

And finally, there is a fascinating study linking creativity to certain climates. According to researchers DiVliert and Murray, “Nobel laureates, technological pioneers, and innovative entrepreneurs are unequally distributed across the globe. Their density increases in regions toward the North Pole, toward the South Pole, and very close to the Equator.”

What theory can account for this unequal distribution? The researchers concluded: 

“This geographic anomaly led us to explore whether stressful demands of climatic cold and climatic heat (imposed necessities) interact with economic wealth resources (available opportunities) in modulating creative culture--defined here as including both inventive idea generation and innovative idea implementation.”  

In other simpler words, the adage that necessity is the mother of invention applies so long as there is enough economic opportunities and resources to allow the creative people to rise to the challenge. Or, perhaps, Depression is the mother of invesntion!

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1169758


Translations Courtesy of Sefaria, (except when, sometimes, I disagree with the translation cool.)