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Title: Fundamental concepts of human thermoregulation and adaptation to heat : a review in the context of global warming
Authors: Lim, Chin Leong 
Keywords: Science::Medicine
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Lim, C. L. (2020). Fundamental concepts of human thermoregulation and adaptation to heat : a review in the context of global warming. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(21), 7795-. doi:10.3390/ijerph17217795
Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 
Abstract: The international community has recognized global warming as an impending catastrophe that poses significant threat to life on earth. In response, the signatories of the Paris Agreement (2015) have committed to limit the increase in global mean temperature to <1.5 °C from pre-industry period, which is defined as 1850–1890. Considering that the protection of human life is a central focus in the Paris Agreement, the naturally endowed properties of the human body to protect itself from environmental extremes should form the core of an integrated and multifaceted solution against global warming. Scholars believe that heat and thermoregulation played important roles in the evolution of life and continue to be a central mechanism that allows humans to explore, labor and live in extreme conditions. However, the international effort against global warming has focused primarily on protecting the environment and on the reduction of greenhouse gases by changing human behavior, industrial practices and government policies, with limited consideration given to the nature and design of the human thermoregulatory system. Global warming is projected to challenge the limits of human thermoregulation, which can be enhanced by complementing innate human thermo-plasticity with the appropriate behavioral changes and technological innovations. Therefore, the primary aim of this review is to discuss the fundamental concepts and physiology of human thermoregulation as the underlying bases for human adaptation to global warming. Potential strategies to extend human tolerance against environmental heat through behavioral adaptations and technological innovations will also be discussed. An important behavioral adaptation postulated by this review is that sleep/wake cycles would gravitate towards a sub-nocturnal pattern, especially for outdoor activities, to avoid the heat in the day. Technologically, the current concept of air conditioning the space in the room would likely steer towards the concept of targeted body surface cooling. The current review was conducted using materials that were derived from PubMed search engine and the personal library of the author. The PubMed search was conducted using combinations of keywords that are related to the theme and topics in the respective sections of the review. The final set of articles selected were considered “state of the art,” based on their contributions to the strength of scientific evidence and novelty in the domain knowledge on human thermoregulation and global warming.
ISSN: 1661-7827
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17217795
Schools: Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) 
Rights: © 2020 The Author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:LKCMedicine Journal Articles

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