Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Essential Bottom Line - The Human Goldilocks Zone

Basic human survival needs define the human Goldilocks Zone:
These needs are summarized here -

1. Oxygen (usually as a component of air) - People can begin to experience brain damage after as few as five minutes without oxygen. For humans and many animals to sustain normal functions, the percentage of oxygen in the breathing environment must be within a relatively small range. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, determined the optimal breathing range to be between 19.5 and 23.5 percent oxygen in air.
            A. Several things may prevent you from getting the oxygen you need. Environmental risks such as high altitude, dense smoke, or carbon monoxide can prevent you from getting enough oxygen.
            B. Some medical issues may prevent your body from receiving oxygen like cardiac arrest, stroke, drowning and others.
            C. Without a consistent supply of oxygen, you can experience a condition called cerebral hypoxia which affects our brains.
                1. At levels at or below 17 percent, your mental abilities become impaired.
                2. When levels drop to 16 percent or below, noticeable changes to your behavior will occur
                3. Levels under 14 percent will cause extreme exhaustion from physical activity.
                4. Once levels drop below 10 percent, you may become very nauseous or lose consciousness.
                5. Humans won't survive with levels at 6 percent or lower. After 10 minutes without oxygen, the brain damage can be so severe that most people will die.
            D. Higher-than-normal oxygen levels in air aren't as harmful to life, however there is an increased fire or explosion risk. With extremely high concentrations of oxygen in the breathing zone, humans can experience harmful side effects. Very high levels of oxygen causes oxidizing free radicals to form. These free radicals will attack the tissues and cells of the body and cause muscle twitching. The effects from short exposure can usually be reversed, however lengthy exposure can cause death.

2. Water - Other than the air we breathe (and it's approximately 21% oxygen), water is the most essential component for human survival. The body’s functional chemicals are dissolved and transported in water, and the chemical reactions of life take place in water.
            A. It is estimated that an average person cannot survive for more than 3-4 days without water. The daily requirement is about 3 liters (approx. 3.2 quarts). Ideal drinking, sanitation, and hygiene needs can be met with approx. 50 liters (13.2 gallons)/day
            B. During hot weather it is recommended that the average person consume more, if available, to replace the amount lost due to sweating, respiration and excretion to maintain a balance of body fluids. In moderate climates you may be able to get by on less.
            C. When the hydration balance is unable to be maintained the body will start to go through the dehydration process.
                1. A 2.5 percent loss in water volume in a person leads to a 25 percent reduction in blood volume. This means the blood gets thicker and the heart has to work harder to pump nutrients throughout the body.
                2. This lower blood volume also reduces flow to the extremities, leading to numbness in the fingers and toes.
                3. The thicker blood also has a harder time making its way through the small capillaries in the brain. The lack of oxygen to parts of the brain can make it impossible to concentrate or focus for any period of time.
                4. The length of time one can survive without water depends on activity level and environmental temperature. Higher activity will invariably reduce life span, as will higher temperatures.
                5. With no water, the maximum length of time a person can survive is 10 days. Starting at 80 degrees Fahrenheit life expectancy is reduced to 9 days. With every five-degree increase in temperature, the life span decreases a day.

3. Food - sustenance, a source of biological "fuel", or what we call food, is the next most important factor after oxygen and water.
            A. A body that does not have food can survive for quite a long time by subsisting on the fat reserves in the body and the glycogen reserves in the liver and, eventually, the proteins in the muscles.
            B. The first two to three days without food, the body will depend solely on the fat reserves to run the muscles of the body. These fatty acids can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. The body can survive for as much as two weeks without intake of energy rich foods (fats & carbohydrates) 
            C. The brain relies on the glycogen reserves to send glucose to the brain. After day three, the liver begins to synthesize ketones (short strand fatty acids) that can cross the blood-brain barrier. The ketone stage can last for up to two weeks.
            D. Once the fat reserves are used up, the body will begin breaking down the musculature into proteins that can be converted into amino acids that are then transformed into glucose. Muscles break down quickly, within one week.
            E. Once this process has completed there is no other internal source of energy and the body dies. Signs of starvation include apathy, listlessness, withdrawal, changes in hair color, flaky skin, and massive edema in the abdomen and lower limbs, all of which lead to a higher chance of infection.
            F. Most individuals who experience starvation don’t die directly from it. Most die due to infectious diseases that attack the body as it consumes its own defenses.
            G. Virtually every food resource of humans is another form of animal or plant life... which also has a Goldilocks Zone!

4. Shelter (Protection From temp and moisture extremes… or the frequently cited "elements") - A shelter that helps to keep your body at a constant temperature and stable water content - temperature and humidity being the key components of climate - is also a necessity. This could include appropriate clothing.
            A. When a person is exposed to "the elements", water loss is increased and core temperature can increase or decrease beyond the survival range.
            B. Cold temperatures and high winds can strip away valuable moisture as quickly as high temperatures can cause sweat related loss.
            C. A shelter should consist of a place to make fire to create heat as well as protection from the wind and rain.
            D. Without the ability to keep a constant temperature and hydration, a person runs the risk of hypothermia or heat stroke.
            E. A person’s normal temperature in 98.7 degrees Fahrenheit. If the core temperature drops to 91.4, a body will go unconscious. At 86.0 degrees, the body loses the ability to control internal temperature. At 82.4 degrees, there is complete muscle failure.
            F. On the other end of the spectrum, a temperature of 107.6 degrees results in a breakdown of the central nervous system. At slightly over 111 degrees, the brain overheats and causes death.
            G. Extreme temperature fluctuations can cause hallucinations and illogical behavior, which can cause a person to fail to take the proper steps to keep himself alive.

5. Rest/Sleep - For a long time sleep was not considered a basic human need. Studies on sleep deprivation helped to change this in the 20th century. In terms of human need, sleep is one of the five most important elements.
            A. Sleep deprivation can cause a myriad of problems ranging from decreased body temperature to cognitive impairment and hallucination.
            B. Although the mechanisms of sleep are not well understood, the problems associated with lack of sleep are.
                1. Headaches can begin as soon as 24 hours after missing sleep.
                2. 72 hours in, memory is impaired and temporal and spatial distortion start to occur.
                3. After 96 hours without sleep, cognition is markedly impaired.
                4. After 144 hours, hallucinations ensue and there is a considerable loss of attention and manual dexterity.
            C. The longer a person goes without sleep the less coherent thought patterns become.
            D. This lack of clear thinking can be detrimental on its own, if coupled with a lack in any of the other basic needs areas it could be life threatening.

NOTE: There are other things you could add to this list like sex, mobility, emotional connection, sense of belonging, etc. The difference is that although sex is needed for the species to survive an individual can live without it. Mobility is an important function and improving one's mobility usually improves one's survivability but humans are essentially mobile as they are created so this is not a basic external need. Emotional connection and a sense of belonging are group needs, not individual survival needs. The truth is, there are only five basic needs; Air, Water, Nutrients, Shelter, and Sleep.

How Does This Stack Up For Us?
1. Our Goldilocks Zone -
        A. Air has to have 19.5 and 23.5 percent oxygen, fairly clean, and fairly constant (no longer than
5 minutes without) - preferred intake = 12-20 breaths / minute.
        B. Water has to be fairly clean, freshwater, and ABSOLUTELY no longer than 9 days without @ 80 F (on average) - preferred intake = periodically during the day @ 3 liters/day
        C. Food has to be fairly fresh (NOT decomposing), provide critical nutrients, and be at least every two weeks (to prevent serious damage and loss of faculties). This means having the ability to either access fresh foods on a very regular basis or to access preserved foods in lieu of fresh on an even MORE regular basis. Preferred intake - several times per day @ approx. 2 lb./day mixed nutrient food (fats, carbohydrates, sugars, protein, salts, trace minerals, & vitamins) and 2400 calories. If the Goldilocks Zones of your food sources are being exceeded...
        D. Shelter is primarily to ensure stable body temperatures and moisture levels, as well as basic security from harms. It must be able to prevent extreme exposure to "the elements" and protect us from extremes of condition or environment. This may be as little as good clothing or as much as a fixed location dwelling. Preferred availability = full protection as needed, with a minimum of nightly for functional rest, while maintaining core body temperatures between 91.4 and 104 degrees F at all times, and providing protection from temperature extremes or other harms to skin surface and extremities.
        E. Rest is a key biological factor, and completely within our control. No greater than 72 hours of sleep deprivation before critical functional loss, and preferred intake = daily for at least 8 hours.

2. Conditional Status
        A. Our air is frequently out of our control. We rely upon what could be called "the commons" - the sense that the air belongs to everybody, and as a result we have significant increases in health problems due to poor quality air, caused by a variety of issues - mostly man-made - like factory exhausts, car exhausts, chemical pollution, etc. Much air in high human populated areas has the oxygen we need... but a lot of other gunk we don't need - smog, smoke, gaseous pollution, particulate pollution, etc. For many people the answer is - we don't handle our air well. Global warming makes air warmer, and climate change means air becomes more of a threat because of increased movement and violence of movement.
        B. Our water availability is excellent - at the higher socio-economic levels of the developed world! Everybody else has problems to varying degrees. We have VERY low levels of freshwater world wide, compared to the vast amounts of salt water, and much of that is frozen at the poles. We, collectively, don't get, use, or handle our water well. Climate change radically changes the distribution and availability of fresh water supplies in any given biome and increases the risk of poor consistency and/or quality of water availability.
        C. Most of our food comes from, and is dependent upon, plant and animal propagation - what we call agriculture - and ALL of that food production is dependent upon the same kind of conditions (the Goldilocks Zone) as we are, with varying specific requirements - but outside the Goldilocks Zone, they die… just like we do. This is where our critical problem really lies - the fact that climate change threatens the entire food supply both directly and indirectly.
        D. Our available shelter is directly dependent upon the health and functionality of our environment, and thus available shelter components/options, as well as our functional ability to easily attain the first three critical needs above. The more difficult it is to acquire the first three, the more time in a day acquiring them takes up. The more time it takes the less time there is for acquiring and applying the components of effective shelter. The critical needs is the ability to maintain core body temperatures but extremities can take a hit if conditions get too hot or cold.
        E. Our rest opportunities are largely dependent upon our degree of rest deprivation and the degree to which the other four have been attained. Any shortfalls in the other four mean we are closer to critical survival issues and may be less able or inclined to rest. That said, at some point the body will almost force a rest state, and that could be at exactly the wrong time from a life sustaining standpoint, so, better to chose the time earlier. Abrupt climate change increases the probability that routine periods of rest will not be available or will be disrupted, unless substantial accomplishment exists in the first four.

Think about it! Be prepared! Keep your powder dry and your candles lit!

The Smokemaster

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