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居住地與健康:住在農村是否真的更幸福

Is it really healthier to live in the countryside?
居住地與健康:住在農村是否真的更幸福

Whether you’re worried about pollution or stress, you may wonder if leaving your town or city for the countryside may boost not only your happiness, but your health.

不管你是擔心污染還是壓力,你可能想知道,離開你的城鎮或城市去農村,是否不僅能增進你的幸福感,還能促進你的健康。

But evidence-based research that can help us identify the healthiest environments to live is surprisingly scant. As scientists begin to tease apart the links between well-being and the environment, they are finding that many nuances contribute to and detract from the benefits offered by a certain environment – whether it be a metropolis of millions or a deserted beach.

但是,能幫助我們找到最健康的生存環境的實證研究少得令人吃驚。當科學家們開始梳理健康與環境之間的聯系時,他們發現,許多細微的差別既可以讓某一特定環境帶來的益處有所增加,也可以使其有所減損。無論是擁有數百萬人口的大都市,還是荒蕪的海灘,都是如此。

“What we’re trying to do as a group of researchers around the world is not to promote these things willy-nilly, but to find pro and con evidence on how natural environments – and our increasing detachment from them – might be affecting health and well-being,” says Mathew White, an environmental psychologist at the University of Exeter Medical School.

埃克塞特大學醫學院(University of Exeter Medical School)的環境心理學家懷特(Mathew White)說, “我們這群來自世界各地的研究人員不是在毫無章法地倡導什么,而是就自然環境如何影響健康和幸福這個問題,在尋找正反面的證據;人類對環境的態度日益冷漠。”

White and other researchers are revealing that a seemingly countless number of factors determine how our surroundings influence us. These can include a person’s background and life circumstances, the quality and duration of exposure and the activities performed in it.

懷特和其他研究人員發現,似乎有無數的因素決定著我們周圍的環境如何對我們產生影響。這包括一個人的背景和生活環境,在該環境中生活質量、持續時間以及在其中進行何種活動等等。

Generally speaking, evidence suggests that green spaces are good for those of us who live in urban areas. Those who reside near parks or trees tend to enjoy lower levels of ambient air pollution, reduced manmade noise pollution and more cooling effects (something that will become increasingly useful as the planet warms).

一般來說,證據表明綠色空間(green space)對我們這些生活在城市的人是有好處的。居住在公園或樹林附近的人往往受益于較少的空氣污染、更低的人為噪音和更好的涼爽效應 (隨著地球變暖,它會越來越有用)。

Natural spaces are conducive to physical and social activities – both of which are associated with myriad benefits of their own.

自然空間有益于體育和社會活動,這兩項活動又會帶來相當多的益處。

Time in nature has been linked to reduced physical markers of stress. When we are out for a stroll or just sitting beneath the trees, our heart rate and blood pressure both tend to go down. We also release more natural ‘killer cells’: lymphocytes that roam throughout the body, hunting down cancerous and virus-infected cells.

長時間身處大自然中,能夠減輕壓力造成的身體不適。當我們外出散步或只是坐在樹下時,我們的心率和血壓都會下降。我們還釋放出更多的天然“殺手細胞”(killer cells):即在身體各處游走的淋巴細胞,可以隨時捕捉癌細胞和受病毒感染的細胞。

Researchers are still trying to determine why this is so, although they do have a number of hypotheses. “One predominate theory is that natural spaces act as a calming backdrop to the busy stimuli of the city,” says Amber Pearson, a health geographer at Michigan State University. “From an evolutionary perspective, we also associate natural things as key resources for survival, so we favour them.”

研究人員已有一些假設,但他們仍在試圖確定這是為什么。“一個占主導地位的理論是,自然空間可讓城市的繁忙刺激平靜下來”。 密歇根州立大學(Michigan State University)的健康地理學家皮爾森(Amber Pearson)說。“從進化論的觀點來看,我們也認為自然界是我們賴以生存的重要資源,所以我們喜歡它們”。

This does not necessarily mean that urban denizens should all move to the countryside, however.

然而,這并不一定意味著城市居民都應該搬到農村去。

City residents tend to suffer from higher levels of asthma, allergies and depression. But they also tend to be less obese, at a lower risk of suicide and are less likely to get killed in an accident. They lead happier lives as seniors and live longer in general.

城市居民往往患哮喘、過敏和抑郁的程度更高。但他們的肥胖程度、自殺風險和在事故死亡率都較低。他們在老年時生活更幸福,總體上壽命更長。

Although we tend to associate cities with pollution, crime and stress, living in rural locales may entail certain costs as well. Disease-carrying insects and arachnids can detract from the health factor of that otherwise idyllic cabin in Maine, for example.

盡管我們總是把城市與污染、犯罪和壓力聯系在一起,但生活在農村地區也可能需要付出一定的代價。例如,攜帶疾病的昆蟲和蛛形綱動物會影響健康,讓緬因州(Maine)那種田園詩般的小屋生活沒那么浪漫。

In other cases, rural pollution poses a major threat. In India, air pollution contributed to the deaths of 1.1 million citizens in 2015 – with rural residents rather than urban ones accounting for 75% of the victims. This is primarily because countryside dwellers are at greater risk of breathing air that is polluted by burning of agricultural fields, wood or cow dung (used for cooking fuel and heat).

在其它案例中,農村污染構成重大威脅。在印度,2015年空氣污染造成了110萬印度人死亡——其中75%的受害者是農村居民,而不是城市居民。這主要是因為農村居民更容易吸入因焚燒農田、樹木或牛糞(用于做飯燃料和取暖)而受到污染的空氣。

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Indonesia’s slash and burn-style land clearing likewise causes a blanket of toxic haze that lasts for months and sometimes affects neighbouring countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Meanwhile, smoke pollution from fires lit in South America and southern Africa has been known to make its way around the entire southern hemisphere. (That said, the air in the southern hemisphere is generally cleaner than in the northern hemisphere – simply because there are fewer people living there).

印度尼西亞刀耕火種式的土地清理同樣會造成持續數月的有毒霧霾,有時會影響到鄰國,包括新加坡、馬來西亞和泰國。與此同時,南美和非洲南部火災產生的煙塵污染已經在整個南半球蔓延開來。(即便如此,南半球的空氣通常比北半球的空氣要干凈——僅僅是因為那里的人更少)。

It’s not just developing countries, either: wildfires in the western US are wreaking havoc on air quality, while pollution from fertilizers used on farms are detracting from air quality in Europe, Russia, China and the US.

也不僅僅是發展中國家:美國西部的森林大火正在對空氣質量造成嚴重破壞,而農場化肥污染正在降低歐洲、俄羅斯、中國和美國空氣質量。

What about the idea of that pure mountain air? It’s true that black carbon aerosols and particulate matter pollution tends to be lower at higher altitudes. But trying to move above air pollution may cause other issues.

呼吸純凈的山間空氣如何?海拔越高,黑碳氣溶膠(black carbon aerosols)和顆粒物污染的水平確實會降低。但是如果為了躲避空氣污染搬到高處居住,就可能產生其它問題。

While people who live in in places 2,500m or higher seem to have lower mortality from cardiovascular disease, stroke and some types of cancers, data indicate that they also seem to be at an elevated risk of death from chronic pulmonary disease and from lower respiratory tract infections. This is likely at least in part because cars and other vehicles operate less efficiently at higher altitudes, emitting greater amounts of hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide – which is made even more harmful by the increased solar radiation in such places. Living at a moderate altitude of 1,500 to 2,500 meters, therefore, may be the healthiest choice.

雖然生活在海拔2500米或更高地區的人死于心血管疾病、中風和某些癌癥的幾率似乎較低,但數據顯示,他們死于慢性肺部疾病和下呼吸道感染的風險似乎也較高。至少一部分原因可能是汽車在高海拔地區的運行效率較低,因此會釋放出更多的碳氫化合物和一氧化碳,而在這些地區,由于太陽輻射的增加,這些物質產生的危害更大。因此,生活在1500到2500米的中等海拔高度可能是最健康的選擇。

On the other hand, there is a strong argument to be made for living near the sea – or at least near some body of water. Those in the UK who live closer to the ocean, for example, tend to have a better bill of health than those who live inland, taking into account their age and socioeconomic status. This is likely due to a variety of reasons, White says, including the fact that our evolution means we are attracted to the high levels of biodiversity found there (in the past, this would have been a helpful indicator of food sources) and that beaches offer opportunities for daily exercise and vitamin D.

另一方面,一種強有力的觀點認為應該生活在海邊——或者至少在一些水域附近。例如,在英國,考慮到他們的年齡和社會經濟狀況,住得離海洋近的人往往比住在內陸的人更健康。這可能有各種各樣的原因,懷特說,從進化論的角度,這意味著我們會被海中發現的生物多樣性所吸引 (在過去,這是表明有豐富的食物來源);海灘提供了日常鍛煉的機會和維生素D(譯注:在海灘多曬太陽可獲取身體所需的維生素D)。

Then there are the psychological benefits. A 2016 study Pearson and her colleagues conducted in Wellington, New Zealand found that residents with ocean views had lower levels of psychological distress. For every 10% increase in how much blue space people could see, the researchers found a one-third point reduction in the population’s average Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (used to predict anxiety and mood disorders), independent of socioeconomic status. Given that finding, Pearson says, “One might expect that a 20 to 30% increase in blue space visibility could shift someone from moderate distress into a lower category.” Pearson found similar results in a follow-up study conducted near the Great Lakes in the US (currently in review), as did White in an upcoming study of Hong Kong residents.

住在海邊還有心理上的好處。2016年,皮爾森和她的同事們在新西蘭惠靈頓進行的研究發現,居住地能看到海景的居民心理困擾水平較低。研究人員發現,人們所能看到的藍色空間(譯注:blue space, 指海水、湖水等)每增加10%,人口平均的凱斯勒心理困擾量表(Kessler Psychological Distress Scale,用于預測焦慮和情緒障礙)就會降低三分之一個點,而且與其社會經濟地位無關。皮爾森說,考慮到這一發現”,人們可能會期待,藍色空間的可見度增加20到30個百分點,就會把一個人從中等程度的心理困擾轉化到較低的水平“。皮爾森在美國五大湖(Great Lakes)附近進行的一項后續研究中也發現了類似的結果(目前正在進行評估),在之后進行的一項針對香港居民的研究中,懷特也發現了同樣的結果。 紐約時報中英文網 http://www.zvkdrb.live

Not everyone can live on the coast, however. So Simon Bell, chair of landscape architecture at the Estonian University of Life Sciences and associate director of the OPENspace Centre at the University of Edinburgh, and his colleagues are testing whether restoring neglected bodies of water throughout Europe can help. They are interviewing residents before and after restoration, including at a rundown beach outside of Tallinn, Estonia and an industrial canal near a Soviet bloc-style apartment complex in Tartu, also Estonia, among other places in Spain, Portugal, Sweden and the UK.

然而,并不是每個人都能住在海邊。貝爾(Simon Bell)是愛沙尼亞生命科學大學(Estonian University of Life Science)的景觀建筑學首席教授以及愛丁堡大學(University of Edinburgh)開放空間中心(OPENspace Centre)的副主任,他和他的同事正在調查在歐洲修復被遺棄的水體是否有幫助。他們在修復前后采訪當地的居民。修復的水體包括愛沙尼亞首都塔林(Tallinn)外一個破舊的海灘、愛沙尼亞第二大城市塔爾圖(Tartu)一幢蘇式公寓大樓附近的工業運河,以及西班牙、葡萄牙、瑞典和英國的一些地方。

The team’s second analysis of nearly 200 recently redeveloped water sites will allow them to tease out how factors such as climate, weather, pollution levels, smells, seasonality, safety and security, accessibility and more, influence a given water body’s appeal. The ultimate goal, Bell says, is to find “what makes a great blue space.” Once the results are in, he and his colleagues will develop a quality assessment tool for those looking to most effectively restore urban canals, overgrown lakes, former docklands, rivers and other neglected blue spaces to make residents’ lives better.

該小組對近200個最近重新開發的水源地進行的第二次分析。他們梳理出氣候、天氣、污染水平、氣味、季節性、安全、可觸及度等因素如何影響一個特定水體的吸引力。貝爾說,最終的目標是找出”什么造就了一個偉大的藍色空間“。一旦結果出來,他和他的同事將開發一種質量評估工具,提供給那些尋求最有效的方式修復藍色空間的人,讓城市運河、水草瘋長的湖泊、舊碼頭區、河流和其它被忽視的水體煥發新生,以改善居民的生活。

Still, when it comes to wellbeing, researchers do not know how lakes compare to oceans or how rivers compare to seas. Nor have they compared how beaches in, say, Iceland measure up to those in Florida. What they do know is that complex factors including air and water quality, crowding, temperature and even high and low tides affect how something as seemingly simple as a visit to the beach can influence us.

盡管如此,在健康方面,研究人員并不知道湖泊與海洋的比較結果,也不知道河流與海洋的比較結果,也不會將冰島的海灘與佛羅里達的相比。他們所知道的是,空氣和水質、水邊的人口密度、溫度,甚至漲潮和退潮等復雜因素,會對我們產生怎樣的影響,就是比如去海灘游玩這樣簡單的事情。

“There might be a million other important things besides weather and daylight that influence someone in Hawaii versus Finland,” White says.

“除了天氣和日光之外,可能還有其他一百萬個重要因素會影響某個人在夏威夷和芬蘭的健康狀況”, 懷特說。

In terms of health, data also suggest that, counterintuitively, people who live in more intermittently rather than regularly sunny places – Vermont and Minnesota in the US, for example, and Denmark and France – tend to have higher rates of skin cancer, likely because sunscreen is not part of daily routines.

在健康方面,數據還顯示,與我們的常識相反,在偶爾有陽光的地方,比如美國佛蒙特州和明尼蘇達州,以及丹麥和法國,那里的人皮膚癌的發病率往往更高,可能因為這些地方的人并沒有把涂防曬霜作為日常生活的習慣。

Just as some green and blue spaces may be more beneficial than others, researchers are also coming to realize that the environment’s influence on well-being is not evenly distributed.

正如一些綠色和藍色的空間可能比其它空間更有益,研究人員也逐漸認識到,環境對健康的影響不是均勻分布的。

People living in lower socioeconomic conditions tend to derive more benefits from natural spaces than wealthy residents, White says. That’s likely because richer people enjoy other health-improving privileges, such as taking holidays and leading generally less stressful lives – a finding with important real-world implications. “Here in the UK, local authorities have a legal obligation to reduce health inequalities. So one way to do that is to improve the park system,” White says. “The poorest will benefit the most.”

懷特說,社會經濟狀況的較低的人群往往比富裕者更能從自然環境中獲益。這很可能是因為富人享有其它促進健康的特權,比如度假和總體生活壓力較小。這一發現具有重要的現實意義。”在英國,地方當局有義務減少健康差異,一種方法就是改善公園系統“,懷特說,”最貧窮的人得益最多“。

It’s also important to point out that simply moving to a relatively pristine coast or forest will not solve all of our problems. Other life circumstances – losing or gaining a job, marrying or divorcing – have a much greater impact on our health. As White puts it, no matter what environment you’re in, “It’s more important to have a house than to be homeless in a park.”

同樣重要的是,僅僅搬到相對清潔的海岸或森林并不能解決我們所有的問題。其它生活環境——失去或得到一份工作、結婚或離婚——對我們的健康有更大的影響。正如懷特所說,無論你身處什么環境,“擁有一所房子比在公園里無家可歸更重要”。

Bell adds that proximity to nature actually tends to rank low on people’s lists of the most important factors for selecting a place to live, after things like safety, quietness and closeness to key locations like schools and work. But while the benefits of green and blue spaces should not be overplayed on an individual level, they are important for the scale at which they work.

貝爾補充說,在人們選擇居住地的最重要因素中,親近自然的因素往往排名靠后,比它更重要的因素有安全、安靜,以及是否靠近學校和工作地。但是,雖然在個人層面綠色和藍色空間的好處不應被夸大,但它們是起作用的,因此也是重要的。

And even so, one takeaway seems obvious: those living in a clean, oceanside city with ready access to nature – think Sydney or Wellington – may have struck the jackpot in terms of the healthiest places to live.

即便如此,一個結論應是明顯的:那些生活在干凈的海濱城市、可以隨時親近自然的人,比如悉尼或惠靈頓的居民,在健康居住地的競賽中應該能拔得頭籌。

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