Have you ever met someone who always feels cold, even when everyone else is warm? We tend to joke that these people are “cold blooded,” but do we even know what that means?
Having cold blood involves more than just needing a few more blankets than everyone else. If we all suddenly became cold-blooded instead of warm, our lives would be completely different.
Why would we need to eat less food? Could we only survive in warm climates? And how might our cold blood help with space exploration? Here’s what would happen if humans became cold blooded.
Warm-blooded creatures like you and me, are called Endothermic. When our body temperatures get too hot or too cold, we have built in processes like shivering and sweating to help regulate them.
But cold-blooded, or Ectothermic creatures, don’t have that same luxury. They have to rely on external sources to regulate their body temperature.
That means that if we became cold-blooded, our lives would be a lot more limited. Our energy levels would be reliant on the heat around us. No more relaxing in the sun, that’d be our most productive time! And in the winter, a good heater could be the difference between life or death. Do you think we’d be able to survive?
If you were to wake up tomorrow with cold blood, there’d be a lot of new things to get used to, some good and some bad.
For one thing, your grocery bill would be a lot smaller, as you wouldn’t have to eat nearly as much as you do now. Warm-blooded animals eat a lot because they need all that energy to keep their bodies at the right temperature.
But what if you like your three meals a day? Sure, you could keep eating just as much as you like, but with no use for all those calories, all that food would go straight to fat.
If you’re smart about it, you probably wouldn’t have to worry about visiting the doctor as much anymore either. Warm-blooded bodies provide nice constant temperatures for germs to breed in, as opposed to the variable temperatures of the cold blooded.
If bacteria and viruses can’t get used to your body’s climate, then your chances of getting sick drop significantly.
But that’s not to say that you’d be invincible.
If you don’t make a conscious effort to keep yourself warm, your low body temperature could slow down your immune system, allowing bacteria and viruses to creep up and infect you. So, you may have become a less desirable host for these pathogens, but now you also have an active responsibility in fighting them off.
Keeping yourself at a proper body temperature would become a crucial part of your everyday life. Since you’d be relying on external sources of heat, your house would have to be kept much warmer than you’re used to.
Your thermostat would not only control the temperature of your house, it’d be setting the exact temperature you want your body to be too. During the winter, any money you would’ve saved on groceries would be quickly gobbled up by a sky-high heating bill.
Cold-blooded land dwellers tend to do best in temperatures between 21 to 40 degrees celsius. So to make things easier for ourselves, and to live more active lives, we’d all be best to move closer to the equator.
Except that’d be a lot of people to move to one area of the planet, and soon we’d be running into the usual issues that come along with large scale human migration. It’d be over-crowded, our resources would be running out, and who knows how long it would be before political instability came into play.
So maybe it’d be better if some of us just moved to another planet all together. Yes, it’s a little ambitious, but bear with me because space travel should actually be much easier for cold-blooded humans.
When cold-blooded animals hibernate over the winter, they lower their body temperatures to that of their surroundings, and enter a state called Torpor.
In this catatonic state, their breathing and heartbeats slow down, and they can survive for long periods on stored body fat. By employing this method, a cold-blooded space crew could survive much longer than a warm-blooded one, allowing them to travel for months, or even years, on minimal resources.
Maybe out there in space they’ll find a planet that’s perfectly suited for cold-blooded creatures, and maybe there are already some living there.