MadSci Network: General Biology

Re: how would climate affect our body energy efficiency?

Date: Wed May 17 09:31:36 2006
Posted By: dave armstrong, Faculty, Biology, Cricklade college
Area of science: General Biology
ID: 1144634799.Gb

Humans are like every other mammal in requiring energy to stay warm. We use the typical animal mechanisms such as shivering and blood transfer from the skin (going blue)to achieve minimum loss.

The trouble with living in a cold climate is indeed that energy has to be used to bring our core temperature to 36.8 degrees. There are many methods such as the two mentioned. Behavioural adaptation has resulted in humans wearing several layers of insulated clothing to help in extreme conditions of heat loss.We also create shelters and even triple glazing. Running and walking quickly are two well established methods of varying temperature while outdoors.

If you live near Malaysia, which seems to be the case, then the equatorial climate must be mentioned here. People living in some areas have to work to keep cool. Remember the human death point is almost exactly 40 degrees. Think about that next time you take a (long)hot bath!Some races have lost sweat glands because of the humidity in tropical forests. Pygmies in Congo are only one example. There are several methods to avoid overheating, for example, activity should be curtailed. Temperatures in desert areas often move towards 50 degrees; many countries actually prohibit working above 40 degrees. Drinking water is required to avoid thirst and dehydration, and wetting the skin is used for evaporative cooling.

Every human has to do chemical or physical work to maintain comfortable temperatures, day or night. Every climate can cause problems for those who are uncomfortable in their work or play. Cold climates have huge problems, but even though we evolved in warm climates, they cause us almost equal problems as modern man.

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