Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Time Out For Sunshine

For the past few days there have been sms' flashing around the mobile phone networks in Egypt warning people to avoid the sun from 11 am to 4 pm. Some of the warnings have been attributed to the UN (I didn't know that they had a weather department?) while others have had no attribution. Friends of mine have told me that there have been announcements on television as well. There's a certain Duh factor here. As long as I can remember, people have been warning that the most dangerous time of the day in the sun is during the hours between 11 and 4...and I can remember a fairly long time. I remember when they first invented sunscreen. Many of us, while we are miserably coping with our overheated summer weather, have been wondering what has changed to make these messages necessary. I guess it's awareness.

I did some net research to see if there have been any momentous happenings in the solar ray world, but no. I suspect that someone has finally noticed that ozonally speaking Egypt is not in the best of circumstances during the summer. As a matter of fact, according to some of the ozone maps that I was able to find while researching, we are in much the same situation as South Africa and Australia, two countries that push sun protection in a big, big way. So these messages seem to be A Good Thing. A look at the map above will show why. The grey and blue band along the equator indicates an area of lower ozone and higher risk. The turquoise band that overlaps Egypt and North Africa is a bit better, but it is the same colour as the band over South Africa and Australia. The green areas are better still, while the red spots are the best. It's sad, but definitely worth noting, that these are all over areas far away from the influence of human beings.

copyright 2007 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani