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Pack It Up: We’ve Reached Peak Human

The good, the bad and the ugly things we learned about our bodies today

Much like you since your senior year in high school, humans have peaked; we have nothing left to do as a species but backslide into oblivion. That, according to a new study published in Frontiers in Physiology, which analyzed 120 years’ worth of genetic and environmental data.

In the last century, we’ve seen the human race make huge gains in everything from life span to how fast we can run a mile. Unfortunately, researchers think whatever we’ve accomplished thus far is as good as we’re going to get — we’re not going to live any longer, grow any taller or ever, ever, run a 3-minute mile.

“Rather than continually improving, we will see a shift in the proportion of the population reaching the previously recorded maximum limits,” says professor Jean-François Toussaint from Paris Descartes University in France. “We are the first generation to become aware of this.”

According to Toussaint, environmental factors play a key role in humans hitting their metaphorical ceiling. “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.”

All is not lost, however. The first step is pinpointing the fact that we’ve hit our peak; second step is making legislative changes to reverse the trends that have landed us in this position. “Now that we know the limits of the human species, this can act as a clear goal for nations to ensure that human capacities reach their highest possible values for most of the population,” says Toussaint. “If successful, we then should observe an incremental rise in mean values of height, lifespan and most human biomarkers.”

Unfortunately, this may be difficult when we’ve got climate deniers entrenched at every level of government in this country. But unless they want to get shorter, slower and die sooner, they best hop to it.

A few other things we learned about our bodies today: