Re-engineering the human species 7

The human species is wrong for this world. Those of us – we special few who bear the heavy knowledge of human inadequacy and who know what is good for the world – might have to come to the conclusion that humankind must be eliminated altogether. But before we take drastic final action to rid the planet of the human plague, we will try our utmost to improve the species: adapt it, trim it, re-shape it physically and mentally; change its habits, its desires, its appetites and ambitions, its needs, its abilities; transform it, using the very minimum of the material it’s made of as a base on which to build what we judge an earth-suitable ratiocinating species should be.

Three members of our panel, Matthew Liao of the University of New York, professor of Philosophy and the young hybrid ecumenical discipline Bioethics [Ecumenical: from Greek oikoumene = the inhabited earth], and Anders Sandberg and Rebecca Roache of Oxford,  have published a paper on how human beings may be experimentally re-engineered in a last-ditch effort to solve the paramount problem of CLIMATE CHANGE.  

Liao gave an interview to the Atlantic – with the consent of the rest of us, we hasten to confirm. The full report of it may be read here.

Greatly excited that we can at last hint at what we, the “Doom Panel” as we  jokingly call ourselves, are contemplating in our closed meetings, we select a few highlights to whet your curiosity.

Some of the proposed modifications are simple and noninvasive. For instance, many people wish to give up meat for ecological reasons, but lack the willpower to do so on their own. The paper suggests that such individuals could take a pill that would trigger mild nausea upon the ingestion of meat, which would then lead to a lasting aversion to meat-eating.

Other techniques are bound to be more controversial. For instance, the paper suggests that parents could make use of genetic engineering or hormone therapy in order to birth smaller, less resource-intensive children.

Here is why we think “human engineering could be the most ethical and effective solution to global climate change”.

Each kilogram of body mass requires a certain amount of food and nutrients and so, other things being equal, the larger person is the more food and energy they are going to soak up over the course of a lifetime. There are also other, less obvious ways in which larger people consume more energy than smaller people – for example a car uses more fuel per mile to carry a heavier person, more fabric is needed to clothe larger people, and heavier people wear out shoes, carpets and furniture at a quicker rate than lighter people, and so on. And so size reduction could be one way to reduce a person’s ecological footprint. For instance if you reduce the average U.S. height by just 15cm, you could reduce body mass by 21% for men and 25% for women, with a corresponding reduction in metabolic rates by some 15% to 18%, because less tissue means lower energy and nutrient needs.

There are “various ways humans could be engineered to be smaller”, Liao explains:

You might try to do it through a technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, which is already used in IVF settings in fertility clinics today. In this scenario you’d be looking to select which embryos to implant based on height.

Another way to affect height is to use a hormone treatment to trigger the closing of the epiphyseal plate earlier than normal …  In fact hormone treatments are already used for height reduction in overly tall children.

A final way you could do this is by way of gene imprinting, by influencing the competition between maternal and paternal genes, where there is a height disparity between the mother and father. You could have drugs that reduce or increase the expression of paternal or maternal genes in order to affect birth height. …

The paper “also [discusses] the pharmacological enhancement of empathy and altruism, because empathy and altruism tend to be highly correlated with positive attitudes toward the environment”.

(What is most wanted is empathy with and altruism towards the earth, don’t forget. Always remember it is the earth that matters, not the people on it.)

What we have in mind has more to do with weakness of will. For example, I might know that I ought to send a check to Oxfam, but because of a weakness of will I might never write that check. But if we increase my empathetic capacities with drugs, then maybe I might overcome my weakness of will and write that check.

In giving this example, Liao is putting himself hypothetically on your level. Writing checks for Oxfam is the sort of thing your will should be used for. Leave the greater vision to us.

Some of you are probably mumbling about liberty. We know that you continue to be concerned about that grand old chimera, and we have not ignored your attachment to the idea.

The authors of the paper “suggest that some human engineering solutions may actually be liberty enhancing”:

It’s been suggested that, given the seriousness of climate change, we ought to adopt something like China’s one child policy. There was a group of doctors in Britain who recently advocated a two-child maximum. But at the end of the day those are crude prescriptions – what we really care about is some kind of fixed allocation of greenhouse gas emissions per family. If that’s the case, given certain fixed allocations of greenhouse gas emissions, human engineering could give families the choice between two medium sized children, or three small sized children. From our perspective that would be more liberty enhancing than a policy that says “you can only have one or two children.” A family might want a really good basketball player, and so they could use human engineering to have one really large child.

You could order Child by the pound, you see.

Don’t think of it as an entirely new definition of freedom – notice that you will still have choice: two medium sized children, OR three small sized children, OR one hulking great basketball player.

Embarras de richesses!  

And that’s not the only way the new techniques will be “liberty enhancing”:

Liao: I would return to the weakness of will consideration. If you crave steak, and that craving prevents you from making a decision you otherwise want to make, in some sense your inability to control yourself is a limit on the will, or a limit on your liberty. A meat patch would allow you to truly decide whether you want to have that steak or not, and that could be quite liberty enhancing.

In any case, liberty is not a major issue. Speaking for the whole panel, Liao stresses –

We believe that mitigating climate change can help a great many people, [so] we see human engineering in this context as an ethical endeavor. 

He also touches on another point, a particularly sensitive one perhaps, that has to be made: the human species is guilty of harming the planet, and must be made to pay for what it has done:

We [humanity as a whole] caused anthropogenic climate change, and so perhaps we ought to bear some of the costs required to address it.

But having said that, we also want to make this attractive to people—we don’t want this to be a zero sum game where it’s just a cost that we have to bear. Many of the solutions we propose might actually be quite desirable to people, PARTICULARLY THE MEAT PATCH. 

Ah, yes. We knew that would entice you. Only have patience, and it will come to you just as soon as we can get it out in sufficient quantities for world-wide distribution. And that depends only on when the US government can raise the necessary taxes.

And maybe – just maybe – if you all give up eating meat, have very few very small children (if you must have any at all), become truly empathetic to the earth, and show willing to sacrifice yourselves for it’s welfare to the extent we tell you is needed, we may allow some of you to continue existing. For a while at least. No guarantees.

  • George

    I was surfing the net recently and came across a video of a shark feeding frenzy in Australia recently. You should read the comments from these nuttty animal rights zealots. They go around claiming that anyone who kills a shark is committing “shark murder” and one commenter stated that he/she is glad to see sharks eating humans because of some people who cut off sharks fins.  These same nut-cases couldn’t care less about innocent human beings being beheaded or stoned to death or burned to death , or hung , shot to death, or burried alive , or hacked to death —oh no , they don’t care about that at  all. They wring their hands whining about how the poor sharks are being harmed but poor innocent men, women , children and babies are being slaughtered en masse around the world and these animal rights baffoons couldn’t give a rat’s a**.  
         These animal rights sickos go around posting comments on the internet calling people vile hate-mongering names in sympathy of some damn predatory fish , but innocent humans who are being tortured and/or murdered are of no concern to them whatsoever.  One commenter asked how could these people (fishermen ) who cut off shark fins live with themselves , but the same commenters never ask how could a  man murder his wife and/or  daughter for some minor complaint and then call that “honor”  and live with himself.   They have no problem there whatsoever.  These animal rights zealots are always calling people idiots, or morons, or evil, etc. ad nauseum but when they see videos or pictures of humans being massacred , they don’t give a f***.  The psychological term that these individuals suffer with is actually called — MISANTHROPY.    Check it out. It means they have a hatred of humankind !  It’s true. They hate people or rather the human race in general. They would rather save a mouse than save a human being. They would rather save a snail than save a person.   These people are beyond crazy—–it’s mind boggling. They are truly mentally disturbed liberal individuals and it is a waste of time arguing or debating with them because you may as well be arguing with a brick wall.
                       There were pictures of hundreds of innocent people burned to death in Kutuna , Nigeria and the animal rights zealots and liberals couldn’t care less. We have pictures and videos of massive numbers of people being  slaughtered and these animal rights zealots cheer this and yet they go bonkers if someone hurt a spotted owl or a laboratory rat.  Show these animal rights zealots a picture of someone cutting off a shark’s fin and they get screaming angry, but show the same individuals a picture of someone beheading a human being and they just shrug their shoulders and yawn and they are totally uncaring —-unbelieveable. It is truly mind boggling that we have such assinine and brainwashed individuals on our planet and what is even sadder is they actually believe they are right and justified.  The animal rights zealots and environmentalist zealots work arm-in-arm together as a collective team and they would rather see the entire human race perish than to see some sea turtles or field mice harmed.  It never ceases to amaze me how people like this actually think. Liberalism has run amuk in world society and it’s no wonder we are in the situation we’re in today with people like this spouting off such propagandist  rubbish.

  • Jegarh

    Sounds like a modest proposal, to me.

    • George

      Can you explain your comment Jegarh . I  hope it doesn’t mean what I think , so could you elaborate on what you meant by that ?

      • Jillian Becker

        Jegarh is saying – in a witty way – that my bit of satire  here is like Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, which I posted a few days ago (“Eating people is economical, liberal, and progressive”), about raising children in Ireland for the pot.

        It is an appreciative and complimentary comment.

        (Thanks, Jegarh.)

        • George

          Oh ok , I  wasn’t sure so I asked . I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions.  I get the satirical humor.   Thanks !  

  • Liz

    My mind is still numb after reading this.  If these people get their way, there really is no hope for the human race.  It is this mentality that actually makes religious nutcases look like a tolerable alternative. 
    This also reveals the crux of the problem in the abortion issue – its not just the question of “where do we draw the line” on when a human life begins, but WHO gets the authority to draw it – people like this, who think of humanity in terms of POUNDAGE, and the cost per pound???   The real issue is the inalienable right of life and liberty of every individual, which NO one has the right to dictate, or manipulate.

    • George

      I agree with you entirely Liz  and I could not have expressed it better. I have had heated arguments with the radical animal rights advocates and radical environmentalist advocates and they care more about animals, insects and plants than they do human beings. IMO , these people are downright WACKO !    I keep asking myself what is the world coming to ? The more I ask the question , the scary thought of an answer comes out to be   [ AN END  !  ].