Have you ever wondered why the planet we live on is so hostile? I’m not talking about being a victim of crime, or being attacked by wild animals. Nor am I talking about cutting in the line at the post office on pension day. No, I’m talking about everyday things. Situations that we should be very well adapted for, especially bearing in mind how long we have lived on this planet. Surely, evolution should have equipped us with the fundamental abilities to survive living on planet earth.
You would think so? But take just going outside for example. Especially on a hot sunny day. We wear sunglasses and slather our bodies in protective lotion. We are all too aware of the dangers of not doing either of these things. Exposure to more than thirty minutes of direct sunlight will see our skin turn red and burn. Prolonged exposure will put us at risk from skin melanoma and cancer. That can’t be right can it? The planet relies on the sun’s rays in order to keep the ambient temperature at the correct level to grow and sustain life. Apart from human beings apparently.
And relating to the temperature, is our body fat. Without getting too technical, our bodies produce two types of fat. One good and the other bad (I told you it wouldn’t be technical!). Our body produces the bad type of fat very easily at the average sort of temperatures that we live in. If the planet’s temperature was ten degrees or so higher, our bodies would produce more of the good fat and metabolise the bad stuff more easily. Not great for the environment of course, but more beneficial for our general health. We all now how bad it is to be carrying too much of the wrong sort of body fat.
And let’s not get started on the food we eat. How many people are allergic or intolerant to wheat? Wheat! The very food stuff that is supposed to be the staple of life. Growing wheat transferred human beings from nomadic hunter-gathers into land cultivating farmers. Arguably, farming wheat was instrumental in helping us to develop larger social groups that spread to become settlements. Which in turn, lead to the formation of towns and cities. Yet, a vast number of us are no longer able to eat the very thing that helped us to evolve into the society we are now. And this is just the tip of iceberg.
We seem to be allergic to more and more things as time goes by. Life-saving Epi-pens, once unheard of, are now common place in schools. Teachers now have bags filled with the things, each one labelled with the name of the child it is intended for. Waiting to inject every bloating, convulsive victim at the onset of a deadly peanut invasion!
The more you think about it, the more you come to the conclusion that we appear to be mere interlopers on this planet. Just a look at our own circadian rhythms seem to support this hypothesis. Whilst most animals seem to be in harmony with the world around them, we do not seem able to cope without, clocks , compasses or maps. Well, that’s just down to advances in technology, I hear you cry. We have devices that can track these things for us. Devices that do a much better job.
Then, how do you explain astronauts? A recent study showed that astronauts own “body clocks” (circadian rhythms) followed a 24-hour cycle. However, after a short while in space, this re-calibrated to follow a 24.9 hour cycle. Doesn’t sound a great deal, but that’s almost a whole hour per day. That’s an extra fifteen days per year. How does that work?
So what’s the answer? I don’t know, is the only reply I have for you. The more you look into it, the more it seems as though we haven’t adapted very well to living on this planet. Does that mean we were actually once from another planet? I’m not sure. But, the next time that you feel alone and a bit of an outsider, maybe there’s a reason for it. It’s because you are!