Under the Weather: How Weather and Climate Affect Our Health [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Pat Thomas
eBook Category: Health/Fitness/Technology/Science
eBook Description: Under the Weather is a fact-filled look at the links between health and climate. Pat Thomas details both short-term and life-threatening conditions that can be aggravated by the weather and explains how to ease symptoms and protect yourself from the weather's growing extremes.
eBook Publisher: Vision Paperbacks/Vision Paperbacks
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2007
Let?s talk about the weather. When I was in my late teens I moved from Los Angeles where we had climate to London where we have weather. I made my entrance on a cold November night in an unsuitable pair of slingback sandals, lugging a suitcase full of unsuitable clothes, and promptly fell down a flight of icy stairs onto what was then a bleak outdoor rail platform
attached to Gatwick airport. A very sensibly dressed couple in practical shoes picked me up, dusted me off and asked if perhaps I had any more appropriate footwear that I could change into before continuing my journey. I fell over a lot that winter. It was the first time I had ever been exposed to extreme cold ? never mind ice and snow ? on a day-in, day-out basis. Plugging endless coins into the two-bar electric fire in my rented flat, I felt quite literally sick at heart at the monumental miscalculation I had made in coming to live in such an inhospitable part of the world. Learning to adapt to the weather can be difficult; yet if human evolution has taught us anything, it is that we are masters at adaptation. Humans have thrown considerable energy and ingenuity
at adapting to and protecting themselves against the weather. We build shelters. We engineer and wear seasonal clothing. We damp- and windproof our homes. In winter, we insulate and heat; in summer we switch on the fans and turn up the cold air in our indoor environments. We have, in fact, become so good at adapting to the weather that we have forgotten just what a powerful force it is, and that it can influence our health and well being more deeply than cold toes and chapped lips. While some might argue that all the things we do to protect ourselves from the weather make us immune to its effects, there is another more persuasive argument to suggest that all the trappings of modern life actually make us more susceptible to abrupt changes in weather. Walking from a highly-heated home into the cold of a winter?s day can mean experiencing an almost immediate
drop in temperature of 10°C/ 50° F ? the same kind of sudden temperature change that has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular failure in vulnerable individuals. Our gradual detachment from nature and our modern lifestyle ? complete with air conditioners, humidifiers and central heating ? has made us more sensitive to environmental influences. Our bodies have lost much of the adaptability that would otherwise help them cope with the shock of rapidly changing weather elements. If you are fit and healthy, the shock may remain unnoticed, or pass as a minor nuisance. But if your body is weakened by stress or age, the result can be a range of mood disorders, illness and even death. What is more, scientists predict that our game of oneupmanship
with nature, played by releasing greenhouse
gases and pollution into the environment, may ultimately make our sensitivity to the weather even more acute. Global warming is expected to increase the likelihood of severe weather all over the world, making it less predictable, more extreme and, for a variety of reasons, more damaging to human health. To some, such statements may seem like quackery or an archaic form of armchair meteorology. If weather was really important to health, surely our doctors and scientists would have told us so? Unfortunately, traditional
scientific study, by its very nature, factors out as unimportant anything that man cannot ?control?. So it is not surprising that the weather, and its diverse, and occasionally subtle, influences on human health, have been sidelined in favour of more predictable disease-causing agents such as germs and genetic theory.