I have been in Brazil many times – visiting it during all seasons. Winters were always hot (in European standards) and summer obviously even hotter. This time however, astonishingly, there was a coldest winter in 50 years, with between 11 and 14 degrees and rains. So armed in nothing more than pair of havaianas, summer dress and shorts, the 11 degrees was a nasty surprised. Brazilians all were wrapped up in fur coats, boots, scarves, hats and gloves (aka picture from UK when there is 2 below zero). Me and my “art-partner” while freezing in our inappropriate to the situation outfits while being given weird looks by passer-bys, after a few days gave up hope that it would become warmer again and had no choice but to go and do winter cloth shopping.
Meanwhile in Europe people were enjoying the best summer in 10 years. In countries where I normally reside (although I really don’t have a clue why I am in those place if I hate the weather there so much) – that is in Netherlands and UK, folks were going mad under a sunny few weeks spell with 30 degrees. According to London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) in the first 9 days of this summer heat wave there were 760 cases of death related to the weather.
First time in my life I couldn’t wait till I get back to Europe. On the plane I sat among sneezing, coughing and sniffling Brazilians, complaining about that extreme winter they have experienced. Myself too – with blocked nose and painful sinuses, dreamt about the plane to speed up so I can land in warmth and so that sunrays can touch my achy cheeks and cure them immediately.
So I returned to Blighty on one of the hottest days of the year – 1st of August, 30 degrees, dry, dusty air, not a sign of tiniest wind.
I had some breathing difficulties – which I thought was kind of normal, providing that I still had a remain of a cold from Brazil, and that I have been asthmatic and allergic to pollen since I was born (funnily enough when in Brazil I never experienced any allergies – but about it and why later). However on the next day, the 2nd of August, I was so poorly that for a first time after two decades I decided to visit A&R at the Whittington Hospital. Because what I suffered from was the worst asthma onset in years.
And so here in the summer I must take antihistamines to prevent me getting sick because of sudden explosion of CO2 stuffed plants and their pollen. However in a heatwave such as on the 1st of August the dry dusty air doesn’t only carry pollen. THere are all other much more present particulates floating about – all metals and pollutants from fumes of exhaust pipes and factory chimneys. Sadly antihistamines don’t help for those. My poor, already exhausted respiratory organs gave in and trapped all this stuff in there.
But that not very pleasant incident result in the concept. I often refer to myself as a Human Sensor – being allergic to many things and developing new allergies now and again. For example within my life-span I developed allergies to some additives which are in supermarkets’ prawns (The ones from Sainsbury to be precise, it gives me an awful nettle rash. I don’t dare to try Tesco). And then I thought that we, humans, are perfect sensors and in order to adapt ourselves or in fact keep ourselves flexible enough to be adapted to uncertainty, we must listen to deeply to our own bodies, tune in and check in and gather our own personal data in context of our environment.
It is not like I have discovered America, because I am stating the obvious. But we – including myself – are guilty of diverting our attention to the urban busy-ness of our wonderful lives, ignoring many signals. I agree, we can’t stop every time when we have a tiny toothache or our eyelid is flickering. But I wonder whether it is possible to look at those signals/symptoms not only as if there is something wrong with us but also as a response to the changes in environment? So we can get a bit out of our self-centred zone of looking only into our own well-being, but treat our illnesses/diseased as a symptom of bigger transition, look for a source of this transition and try to adapt in such a way so we embrace the transition while we stay healthy…If Sea Urchins can do it, so can we (http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/2431/20130613/sea-urchins-adapting-increased-oceanic-acidification.htm)