New research suggests that humans have peaked and that climate change is set to make everything worse. Rapid changes will need to be made if we’re to continue moving forward and avoid a gradual decline of modern civilization.
The Peak of Humanity
Although scientific breakthroughs in nutrition as well as curing and treating disease have rapidly expanded our lifespan in recent history, a recent study suggests that humans have peaked in height, lifespan, and physical performance.
Professor Jean-Francois Toussaint from Paris Descartes University, a scientist on the study published in Frontiers in Physiology, stated that “These traits no longer increase, despite further continuous nutritional, medical and scientific progress. This suggests that modern societies have allowed our species to reach its limits. We are the first generation to become aware of this.”
The team behind the study looked at over 100 years of historical data, and have come to the conclusion that anthropogenic activities — meaning changes in environment and climate caused by humans — have greatly affected our health, and are a large reason that humans have peaked. It, unfortunately, may be too late to fix the fact that humans have peaked, but it may be still be possible — albeit difficult — to avoid progress reversing and heading in the opposite direction.
“This will be one of the biggest challenges of this century as the added pressure from anthropogenic activities will be responsible for damaging effects on human health and the environment. The current declines in human capacities we can see today are a sign that environmental changes, including climate, are already contributing to the increasing constraints we now have to consider,” Toussaint continued.
The fact that humans have peaked has implications besides the most obvious. We likely won’t see massive increases in lifespan, of course, but it also affects human strength and performance in events like organized athletics. As time goes on, we’ll see fewer and fewer records being broken as humanity reaches its limits. The fact that lifespan is no longer extendable may also stunt research innovation. While it is still very important to discover novel techniques to treat various illnesses, the fact that humanity has peaked means that the motivation for improvement may be lessened.
“Observing decreasing tendencies may provide an early signal that something has changed but not for the better. Human height has decreased in the last decade in some African countries; this suggests some societies are no longer able to provide sufficient nutrition for each of their children and maintain the health of their younger inhabitants.”
While it may not be possible to easily revert the damage from a changing environment, it’s now clear that climate change has implications that reach far beyond damaging our world. While it’s no doubt disastrous that our seas are rising and species are dying out, humanity has a track cord of behaving extremely selfishly. Maybe when more policy makers realized that humans have peaked and that we’re all headed downhill, they will put into effect changes that will help stave off the decline of our world.