As we have trod onward through this life aquatic, among the most evident principles in managing a human presence underwater is a fundamental appreciation for basic human needs – food, water, shelter, and of course air to breathe. Remove any of these and the human struggles to climb Mr. Maslow’s hierarchical pyramid of human performance towards self-actualization. As we’ve written about frequently, diving challenges these at a fundamental level, where breathing gas must be artificially supplied, and of course there are limited mechanisms to obtain food, fresh water, or shelter while immersed in our watery world. Solve these problems, and we will take to the sea…
A recent infographic from Carolina Biological Supply crossed my desk which provides an excellent representation on how lungs work, and is a critical concept to understand to keep in perspective just how far we have to go:
It all comes down to alveoli, and ravioli. After we bulk up on a big bowl of ravioli to provide an energy store of carbs and fats for a lengthy immersion, we are then fully dependent on our alveoli doing their job within our lungs. A close look at the infographic depicts alveolar gas exchange well, and makes it rather obvious that fluid filled lungs just won’t work. An aquatic evolution towards ‘manfish’ and acquiring gills is millenia away, though should certainly not be ruled out. Indeed humans spend 9 months of their lives in an aqueous medium, so certainly when there’s a will, there’s a way.
In the meantime, it comes down to protecting the human from this challenging environment, and making incremental advances in affording basic human needs. Once well established, human performance will become more productive, gain efficiencies, and allow for human critical thinking and problem solving to take place and chart a course through a very unexplored vector of ocean space.
We can learn a lot about how to take these steps from closely observing the challenges we face every day. Consider that some people are faced with very real limitations in access to food, water, shelter, and even breathing (requiring artificial means of respiration every day). For those conspiracy theorists out there, it may be that our global community is part of a social experiment that imposes challenges on basic human needs across communities for the benefit of those further up the food chain, or rather further up Maslow’s pyramid.
Leveling the playing field – allowing us all to eat, to drink, to sleep, and to breathe – will be the catalyst towards an aquatic evolution. In the meantime, nibbling at the challenges ahead with new life support design, new concepts in undersea habitation, and simple renewed underwater efficiencies is about the best we can do.
So, breathe deep, fatten up on a bowl of ravioli, and keep dreaming about a new life in the sea!