Post -by Gautam Shah
Human body is very adaptive to the changes in Environment. The adaption in the shorter run occurs in terms of changes in the life style and in the longer term with biological or genetic changes. The capacity to mould life style according to the place and its climate has made it possible to develop human habitats in all types terrains and environmental conditions.
We can acclimatize ourselves to many different climatic conditions. We can climb up high mountains and adjust to stresses of Oxygen deficiency. Regular deep sea divers get accustomed to high pressure. Loneliness, overcrowding, noise, vibrations, high glare or brightness, visual capacity in darkness, etc. are some of the stress conditions, we can overcome with some experience.
The terrain and the environment together occur as gradual change across the earth, and so migrating from one zone to another at a graduated pace allows one sufficient time to learn and adapt. The learning and adaptation continue with one generation passing on the heritage to another. The transmission of knowledge occurs through examples of built forms, food, clothing, literature, art and craft forms, other customs and practices. These examples though continuously evolving need time to mature and become ‘fail-safe’. Societies or families that stay at a place and in an environment for a certain duration of time, are able to absorb the forms. Migrating societies or families carry with them some degree of such legacies. But when shifting involves youngsters, or is too frequent the legacy fails to get a fresh foothold. Similar conditions arise when at the new location the terrain and environment are vastly different or the resources are scarce. In such conditions the inherited knowledge is not very useful.
For Jews settling in Israel, the Terrain and Environment both were vastly different from lands they came, but had Government offered resources. The Jews were psychologically prepared and had fair knowledge of conditions in the new lands. Compared to this, migrants to Americas (colonization) were without much foreknowledge. They moved slowly to their new places, and on the way absorbed details of terrain, climate and how earlier settlers had tackled it. Many stayed in small groups of original cultural identities, drawing comfort from cultural commonality. The affinity gave a bearing of heritage. Modern day migrants such as job seekers, however, suddenly move over to new places, without any legacy of terrain or environmental adaptation, or even time to absorb the new place. Here the alienation is complete, and may persist for the next generation.
Terrain and Environmental conditions force one to adapt it through sociological changes. Long term environmental effects are dealt by biological adaptations. These changes set in very slowly and over many generations.