CONTROLLED CLIMATES AND HUMAN VARIATION: UBIQUITOUS AIR CONDITIONING AND LOWERING HEAT THRESHOLDS IN A HOTTER WORLD
Durham, Gabriel B
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This project assessed how ubiquitous air conditioning is affecting human biological and cultural adaptation to heat. Big data from the “CDC Environmental Health Tracker” on morbidity and air conditioning (AC) usage was used to identify relevant Texan and Floridian populations; who were then anonymously interviewed regarding AC use, hot weather exposure, and heat related illness. IBM-SPSS was used to analyze both quantitative and qualitative variables. A final sample of 13 participants from each state between the ages of 21-28 was selected. In this population, AC usage was strongly linked to increased irritability in the heat along with resulting correlations with heat related illness (r = .469, p = .005). Qualitatively, a culture of dependency on air conditioning is shown in Texas while Floridians took advantage of “beach culture” more often. These findings link air conditioning use to the health risks of inactivity along with identified trends in biological maladaptation.