Saturday, August 15, 2020
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Is Laziness The Answer To Human Extinction?

Next time you find yourself experiencing one of those lazy Sundays where you don’t leave the couch for hours, order delivery, and binge seasons of mindless television, remind yourself that you are merely exhibiting survival skills. Wait, what? Let’s backtrack a second here.

Species that maintain a lower expenditure of energy have a longer chance of surviving extinction, a new study suggests. Those species that exert more energy on a daily basis actually increase their chances of extinction, researchers found.

Bruce Lieberman, who serves as an evolutionary biologist at the University of Kansas and was a co-author on the study, suggested that “survival of the fittest” isn’t the most apt metaphor after all.

“Maybe in the long term the best evolutionary strategy for animals is to be lassitudinous and sluggish — the lower the metabolic rate, the more likely the species you belong to will survive,” Lieberman said in a statement. “Instead of ‘survival of the fittest,’ maybe a better metaphor for the history of life is ‘survival of the laziest’ or at least ‘survival of the sluggish.’”

The study, which was published in Proceedings of The Royal Society B, could help scientists accurately predict what species could be facing extinction before it’s too late in the wake of changing climates. Though researchers did admit there are a lot of factors at play when a species goes extinct, metabolic rates could play an even larger role moving forward said Luke Strotz, who was the lead author on the paper and serves as a postdoctoral researcher at Kansas University’s Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum.

“Both maximum life span and metabolic rate scale with temperature,” Strotz told CNN. “Any change in global temperatures associated with climate change is thus going to affect organisms on a physiological level.”

However, Strotz emphasized that “survival of the laziest” applied to the human species in general. In other words, “you can’t just decide to be lazy as an individual and expect to live longer,” he added.

In that spirit, I propose that we all decide to be lazy together. That way we humans have the strongest possibility of surviving deep into the future. I’ll see you on the couch next weekend.

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