Post 301⇒   by Gautam Shah  →


Human body responds to environment in many different ways. These changes are physiological, biological and behavioural. Environmental affectations are traumatic, stressful, or just discomforts, and are a long term, seasonal and passing. The traumatic changes due to acute stress, may cause genetic changes over generations, but most leave their imprint on psychological processes. The traumatic stresses, restrict our capacity to adjust to the environment. Human body has capacity adopt the environment in spite of the stresses. The changes or acclamatory adjustments are met within the mechanisms of our body such as respiratory, metabolic, glandular, etc. Small temporary adjustments are temporary discomforts that are partly met by body mechanisms or by changes in our lifestyle. Changes in lifestyles include task shifting and rescheduling within or around the abode, re-calibrating the built form (shading devices, opening systems), altering the clothing, remoulding the social behaviour, and redefining the dietary preferences.

Leaving Italy for a better life -in America

New migrants

The terrain and its materials were the prime resources in developing an abode. Human body can adjust to environment of a place by emulating the flora-fauna, and if any, practices of earlier inhabitants. These models have made it possible to develop human habitats in all geological and climatic conditions across the world. The climatic behaviour is cyclical, and that offers immense hope and opportunity for adaptation. Pre-emptive actions, fore-planning, storage management, are instinctive activities in most species. Human beings have an additional capacity that is to mould the past heritage to new situations. Migrants have moulded their traditions, for the new place, but have been successful in conserving their original identity. Very often the conserved identities are not functional, but just denotive and perfunctory.

Chinatown Spadina Avenue Toronto

In the short term adjustments, we can accept a wide range of temperature, humidity and other variations. We need both the time and technology for such compromises. One has to choose between slower foot or road travel, and bear the travel fatigue while gradually adjusting to issues of high altitudes, or drop down via an aircraft without fatigue but face breathing and cold weather problems. People have different body make-up, endowing them with specific capacities for bearing the environment. Through training a human being can achieve extra ordinary proficiencies. For astronauts the training in gravity less environment, high spinning capsules, upside down working, etc. equips them for predictable as well as crisis environmental conditions.

Sudden shift to new Environment -Kibati villagers

Several new technologies have been developed since prehistoric times to deal with normal and acutely different environments. These include, work-schedules, body training, psychological counselling, dietary regimen, and technological aids such as clothing, work spaces, social contact mechanisms.

Masai Dressing for local climate

Fire, abode, clothing, selective foods, family structure, means of communication and expression, arts and crafts are some of the means that help us to improvise our existing environments or occupy new territories. These means and methods have reduced the need to evolve biologically for new or changed conditions. Short periods of acclimatization aided by technological aids also reduce the time for reversal of conditions.



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.

Acclimatization for High altitude

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.

Migrants with Social legacies

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.