You're living in an 'eternal summer', and it's harming your health

Blame thermostats and electric lighting

Summer is pretty great. It's warm, it's light long into the evenings. It's why most of us take our holidays in the summer. Winter? Winter sucks. It's cold and dark, and we had to invent electric lighting and heating to make it bearable.

But researchers at the University of Aberdeen believe that by doing so we've disrupted important seasonal changes in our body. They've published a paper describing how living in an 'eternal summer' of artificial heat and light might be affecting our health.

By their logic, our genes have evolved over centuries to respond to changes in the seasons. At different times of year, our bodies produce proteins that - for example - could ward off winter flu. By fooling our bodies into thinking it's summer all the time, those proteins are never produced and we're left vulnerable as a result.

Disconnect From Reality

They add too that we're artificially shielding ourselves from the effects of climate change. As it gets warmer outside, we just leave the thermostat at the same level and remain oblivious to weather conditions outside our homes and places of work. This, they argue, leads to a disconnect from reality.

"Disconcertingly, human lifestyles under artificial conditions of eternal summer provide the most extreme example for disconnect from natural seasons, making humans vulnerable to increased morbidity and mortality," they write in a paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

"This review emphasizes the need for a better understanding of seasonal biology against the backdrop of its rapidly progressing disruption through climate change, human lifestyles and other anthropogenic impact."

Image credit: Duncan Geere // CC BY-SA 4.0