In myriad ways, humans have gradually tailored their world to meet immediate material needs. In so doing, we have, in the minds of many, systematically altered a formerly hospitable environment into one more ambiguous in its effect on the human organism. Just as environments have adapted in response to human activity, so too is the human body now, in turn, forced to adapt to these altered conditions. Today, mysterious illnesses, from chronic fatigue to Gulf War Syndrome, meet us at every turn. Yet even as an increasing number of people attribute ailments to environmental problems, the suspected relationships between illness and environment remain unclear.
Illness and the Environment examines how sick people and their allies struggle to achieve public recognition of somatic complaints and disabilities that they contend are related to "manufactured environments." The first of its kind, the anthology considers the political, legal, and medical conflicts arising from these illnesses, and will prove invaluable to researchers, scholars, public policy makers, trial attorneys, and activist organizations.
Most natural populations intermittently experience extremely stressful conditions. This book discusses how such conditions can cause periods of intense selection, increasing both phenotypic and genetic variation, and allowing organisms with novel characteristics to be first generated and then established in the population. The authors argue that stressful conditions can have a major impact on the environment, backing up their arguments with evidence from the fossil record. They suggest further that, as a consequence, periods of stress must be taken into consideration when long term conservation strategies are planned, particularly as stressful conditions are becoming increasingly prevalent as a result of human activities. This broad overview will be of great interest to students and researchers in the field of evolutionary biology, genetics, ecology, palaeontology and conservation biology.
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