Climate, Weather and Health
History meets Science
Meteorology Beyond Borders
The Full Story
What has Health to do with Climate and Weather?
Part of a working health concept for humans certainly is to live in harmony with nature. This does not only mean that we should watch and work against modern industrial climate change but it also means that we should know the rhythms of nature. The ancient scholars knew these rhythms much better than modern metropolitan citizens because many of us lost the connection to the natural cycles in many ways. Of course, not all of their ideas have proven correct and of course, two millennia later, we have a much deeper understanding of causal processes in nature than they did. Still, we can learn a lot from them because they were very good observers of the nature we do not experience in daily lifes as much than they did.
For the great Greek teacher Aristotle, for instance. who lived in the 4th century BCE and taught the prince who later became known as the famous emperor Alexander the Great, compiled many books that are preserved until today. His book "Meteorologica" deals with all the changes in nature (weather, earthquakes, astronomical transients like comets, and other changes) and speculats about their interconnections.
This website aims to transfer Aristotle's knowledge to the modern reader by providing dictionaries for his correct translation, a lexicon of astronomical transients and information from our modern point of view on the changing phenomena that he describes.
yellow lines: Chinese constellations
coloured polygons: Chinese seasonal super-constellations
big cyan geometries: modern European seasonal asterisms
(graphics: Susanne M Hoffmann 2018)
The stars don't control seasonal climate but always occur simultaneously with it.
All historical cultures defined patterns in the sky that defined the season. The South American Incas and the Australian aboriginals did this with dark clouds in the Milky Way while the peoples in Asia and Europe used bright stars to define patters. The Chinese, for instance, defined four "super-constellations" (The Dark Warrior, the Azure Dragon, the Red Bird and the White Tiger) that consist of many small constellations each (e.g. the Dragon has a Tail, a Neck, a Horn and so on).
The only known abstract concept of celestial patterns is the zodiac, an invention in Babylonian mathematical astronomy that aimed to combine the "ideal star year" visualized as right ascension on the celestial equator with the observable "path of the Moon" among the constellations that can be obscured by the Earth's trabant.
The stars don't control human health but there are seasonal deseases that always occur simultaneously with them.
The most obvious type of seasonal deseases are pollen allergies: As specific plants always blossom in the same season (because they need a specific climate), their pollen fly always at the same time of the year.
In historical epochs before the Roman solar calendar, the calendar best matching the seasons regulary, was the stellar calendar. Ancient astronomers always observed the same stars and constellations in the evening or morning sky when specific people got a flew (in their recognition - we would know that they reacted to the pollen in the air).
Similarly, there are deseases that are connected to other processes or catastrophies in nature: A vulcanic eruption might cause fine dust in the air that might be toxic, or a flood wave might cause pollution of the water that people drink and trigger deseases like cholera and others. Of course and luckily, vulcanic eruptions and floods are not as frequent as the seasonal change. So, ancient scholars who knew that the stars always occur together with seasonal weather might have asked whether or not there are more (longterm) rhythms when also taking into account the planets and the moon.
What else of the deseases and distresses humans might suffer, is caused by seasonal conditions and what environmental facts trigger health or illness is still a matter of research.