The simple solution for saving the planet: human hibernation

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Despite the potential for morning breath which would rival the fumes found in chemical weapon labs, comedian Jeff Wozer says human hibernation would save the planet.

Living among bears, as I do in the Colorado Rockies, requires patience. It’s like having drunks from an Irish novel as neighbours. They’re always waking me at odd hours toppling trash cans, stealing bird feeders, and flattening deck furniture.

Initially I resented the bears. Not for their pillaging ways but rather for the double standards they enjoyed. I could never understand why if a bear gets caught licking someone’s backyard grill it gets relocated to a pristine forest.Yet if I get caught licking someone’s backyard grill it’s called a misdemeanor.

But as the years have passed, I have since warmed to them, even viewing the bears with awe for their hibernation know-how. It’s an underappreciated skill, more associated with sloth than genius. But in reality, when viewed from a green perspective, hibernation is the ultimate act of sustainability.

Imagine if mankind adopted hemispheric hibernation. The planet would be a better place. Zero road traffic coupled with limited electricity demands for almost half a year in each respective hemisphere would radically stem the depletion of resources – water, forests, fossil fuels – giving the planet a needed pause, allowing it to recover, recharge, and recoup.

Energy independence would become a reality. Free from the burden of protecting overseas oil interests, nations could allocate tax dollars towards improving schools, repairing infrastructures, and expanding the grid capacities for sustainable energy resources.

No hard sell would be required. Not in a world whose food pyramid has drive- thru windows. Most humans would readily consent to the idea of hibernation when informed personal yearly goals would be reduced to gaining 800 pounds and sleeping five months.

Calendar issues would need to be addressed. Sleeping November through March would mean missing some of the biggest holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, NewYear’s and St. Patrick’s. Concessions would need to be made. With a limited work year there wouldn’t be time to assign each holiday its own date. They would have to be combined with other holidays or days of note.

Combining Christmas with April Fools’, for instance, would hold merit.You could then shop without regard to gift lists or expectations, helping reduce the use of fuel bouncing from store to store. If the recipient doesn’t like your present, you conveniently cover yourself by shouting ‘April Fools’’. The Vatican, of course, would need to remind priests to refrain from April Fools’ pranks, preventing angry fallout from Christmas parishioners exiting mass with black tongues from gag communion wafers.

Alarm clock manufacturers would need to adjust alarm settings.

Instead of going off every nine minutes snooze buttons would be reprogrammed to go off every nine days, leading to odd waking conversations:

“Honey, what day is it?”

“It’s March 16th.”

“I don’t have to be to work until April 4th. Hit the snooze button and give me nine more days of sleep. And by the way, you were great last November.”

There would also be complications for sleepwalkers. After five months they’d find themselves in a different country with blistered feet. Recognising a need, Patagonia would release a line of Gore-Tex pyjamas, nightgowns, and baby dolls with individual mesh pockets for passport, wallet, and toiletries. And Vasque would begin selling waterproof high-cut slippers with Vibram soles, perfect for all sleepwalking terrains including lawns, pavement, and shag carpeting.

And personal hygiene would take a beating. We look bad enough after five hours of sleep. Imagine us after five months. Combing hair would require morphine. Botox the only cure for pillow-crease-indented foreheads. And hibernation morning breath would rival the fumes found in chemical weapon labs.

But these inconveniences would be minor concessions when weighed, in the long run, against the conveniences gained from human hibernation. Less stress on the planet would mean less stress on us to turn off lights, limit shower time, and turn down thermostats.

And from a personal standpoint, hibernation’s conservation advantages would stall global warming, allowing winter to linger. High altitude ski areas could then remain open into June, giving me three months of skiing. Unless, of course, I do something stupid and get arrested for licking a neighbour’s backyard grill.

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Photo credit: Ka-Ho PANG from Flickr

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Green comedian Jeff Wozer’s humour articles have appeared in more than 35 publications. Jeff has performed his stand-up on some of comedy’s biggest stages – Red Rocks, Vegas Strip and the Great American Comedy festival. When not writing or performing, he spends his time sitting on the deck of his cabin high in the Colorado mountains dressed in tattered shorts and a thick Patagonia fleece jacket brooding about nothing in particular.
  • James Wolford

    Bears more usually enter what’s called torpor, rather than a true “deep sleep” hibernation where they won’t be awoken. Hibernation is thought to be a survival mechanism to survive both cold weather and reduced caloric intake. They fatten, and their body temperature is to match the environment around them. Torpor, in contrast, allows the bear’s metabolism to burn through their excess fat reserves, while retaining muscle through brief waking movements around their den, and their heart rate, temperature, and breathing are relatively higher in torpor than during true hibernation. Or so says the internets. Ask your bears will yah?