The earth orbits around the sun, turning on its axis once every 24-hours. We call this one “day.” As the earth orbits the sun, it wobbles on its axis. This “wobble” creates the seasons. As the Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the sun, it gets more sunlight. The days grow longer. As the earth wobbles back, the Southern Hemisphere tilts toward the sun, and it gets more sunlight. As each hemisphere tilts away from the sun, winter descends as sunlight wanes and days shorten.
As the sun grows stronger in the Spring, the world starts to wake up. Snow melts. Frozen rivers run free again. Trees bud, grass grows, and flowers appear. Birds return with the sun. So do migrating animals like elk and salmon.
Polar bears emerge from their dens in the Spring, once the worst of winter is behind them. They are lean after a winter without food. They travel across the melting sea ice, searching for their first meal of Spring. While their first meals are few and far between, food becomes increasingly abundant as the sun strengthens.
The Arctic circle is defined as the latitude north of which the sun never sets on the Summer Solstice (June 21). Summer in the Arctic is a time of light, and animals may sleep for only a few hours before the sun awakens them once more. With this light comes abundant food, whether in the form of migrating animals or growing plants.
The constant light of the Arctic summer stimulates polar bears to eat enormous quantities of food. They can put on hundreds of pounds of weight in a single summer. They eat practically around the clock.
They become obese. They even become diabetic.
We call these conditions diseases in humans, but in polar bears they are seasonal adaptations. If polar bears do not eat enough during the summer, they will starve to death during the winter.
We can create these conditions for ourselves at will. We can escape the winter, for an endless summer.
Obesity and diabetes is just the beginning. Polar bears (and all animals in cold places) reverse these diseases every winter, before they cause problems. We have opted against this, and that choice is destroying us. As diabetes and obesity worsen, the likelihood of other diseases increases.
Here are the top ten causes of death in America in 2019.
Heart disease: 635,260
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 161,374
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 154,596
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 142,142
Alzheimer’s disease: 116,103
Influenza and pneumonia: 51,537
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,046
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,965
The likelihood of developing, let alone dying of, any of the above diseases increases as one grows fatter and more diabetic. This is just the beginning of the damage we suffer from our endless summer. We are seeing epidemics of infertility, sexual dysfunction, and impotence that are making millions of Americans miserable. We are seeing epidemics of diseases that doctors do not fully understand and that are difficult to treat, if we can treat them at all, such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and diseases that we cannot even agree on, like “chronic” Lyme disease.
Some call this The Great American Malady. I call it the predictable consequence of an endless summer. This has spawned a health and fitness industry that is making a killing off of incomplete advice. Bears can eat anything they want, so long as they keep their skin in the game of life. If a polar bear were to wander onto a cruise ship and set sail for a tropical island, he might wind up just as sick as the average modern human.
Instead, he goes to sleep for a few months, endures bitterly cold temperatures, and emerges again having reverse his mild diabetes and lost as much as 50% of his body weight.
If modern diseases are diseases of an endless summer, then the antidote is to embrace winter.