Tuesday, 9 October 2018

A little pessimism!

Friends in Galicia have been sending news of forest fires not too far from Vigo, in the area near Mondariz, where we go most summers so that Phil can play chess. When we were there in August you could still see charred trees from the last lot of fires, at this time last year. We might complain here about not getting much of an Indian summer but over there a summer that goes on into October brings problems of its own.

According to the experts we can expect this sort of thing to continue. The kind of unusually hot weather the UK and much of northern Europe experienced this summer will become more frequent. Here’s an article warning that we have about 12 years to sort ourselves out before we end up with much bigger problems. As more and more places around the equator become uninhabitable and sea levels rise, flooding low-lying lands, the people will have to go somewhere. A new kind of refugee will be created. We need all countries to work together on this, not have some withdraw from agreements about emissions and pollution, just because they want to put their country first.

  • Another article I read gave advice on how to avoid breathing in too much contaminated air in cities. 
  • Avoid main roads and walk in back streets away from the traffic. 
  • Avoid running in streets at rush hour. 
  • And be mindful of your little ones walking along the street; they are just the right height to breathe in more polluted air. Great! 
  • Don’t be fooled into thinking tree-lined streets are necessarily healthier; trees may well combat pollution but the tree canopy can trap emissions down at ground level. 
What we really should do, apparently, is have quite dense hedges at the edge of pavements, absorbing much of the pollution from traffic. Isn’t life just too cheerful? And that’s before we even think about inequality and injustice!

Then there is the sleep question. Almost all of us have sleep problems at one time or another. However, I can doze off listening to my teach yourself Greek CDs. Well, they do say in the introductory CD that you should be relaxed! Maybe I should listen to them in those nights when sleep just won’t come.

Somewhere in all this stuff there came the question: Do all animals sleep? Opinion differs. Bullfrogs are thought not to sleep. The little black bat is thought to sleep 19 hours a day while the giraffe only sleeps for five minutes at a time. This is probably so that he doesn’t fall over! That is my idea, not scientific opinion. Dolphins have the ability to put only half their brains to sleep at a time, known as unihemispheric sleep. Migratory birds are thought to sleep-fly and sharks sleep-swim. My sister used to sleep walk and sleeps talk. There you go!

And there are a couple of new conditions related to use of the internet. A new collaboration dubbed the European Problematic Use of the Internet Research Network plans to examine internet-related issues health issues such as addiction to gambling and gaming. The new conditions are cyberhoarding - the reluctance to delete information gathered online - and cyberchondria - compulsively using search engines and websites in the hope of finding reassurance about medical fears, only to self-diagnose further ailments. Wonderful!

Of course, after Brexit, who knows if we will have access to any of their findings?

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