Biochemical Aspects of Acclimation to a Cold Environment

  • Robert E. Beyer


Recent ENACT Teach-Ins at The University of Michigan, and elsewhere, have made it frighteningly apparent that our atmosphere is so endangered as to make life, as we know it, impossible on our planet in the forseeable future. One of the insidious aspects of the pollution problem involves the possibility of extreme alterations of the earth’s ambient temperature, a problem which appears difficult to analyze and extrapolate to future decades. A continued increase in the carbon dioxide concentration of the earth’s atmosphere would cause a “greenhouse effect”, i.e. infra red radiated from the surface of the earth would be absorbed increasingly by atmospheric carbon dioxide, resulting in a progressive warming of the atmosphere (Plass, 1959; Keeling, 1970). On the other hand, scattering of the suns radiation by an increased atmospheric dust content would cause a loss of heat and light reaching the surface of the earth, resulting in a cooling of our atmosphere (Wexler, 1952). Of particular concern in this context is the possibility that in the mid-1980’s approximately 500 American-built SST’s, not to mention the French-British Concorde and the Soviet SST, will be flying at about 1800 miles per hour at between 65,000 and 70,000 feet. An MIT-Sponsored “Study of Critical Environmental Problems” (The Global Environment, 1970) reports “that the SST’s may cause water vapor in the atmosphere to increase by 10 percent globally, or by as much as 60 percent over the North Atlantic, where SST traffic is expected to be heaviest.” In addition, the SST’s may cause stratopheric smog as a result of engine discharge of soot, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and sulfate particles. The fine particles thus formed could act to absorb and scatter radiations from the sun. Some geophysicists predict the coming of a new ice age. Assuming a pessimistic attitude toward the ability of our society to bring about realistic changes in public attitudes and governmental action with regard to air pollution it would appear to be highly desirable for this and future generations to be armed with an understanding of the basic responses of living systems to significant and chronic alterations in the temperature of the environment.


Cold Acclimation Liver Mitochondrion Cold Exposure Electron Transfer Chain Skeletal Muscle Mitochondrion 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Beyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Chemical Biology, Department of ZoologyThe University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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