by Ian Driscoll
A group of bioethicists from NYU and Oxford introduced the concept of “human engineering” in a report on how best to address climate change.
The group, led by Matthew Liao of New York University, published its suggestions in the academic periodical, Ethics, Policy and the Environment, this past February.
They argue that the genetic modification of the human race to reduce consumption and thus the collective “carbon footprint” of humanity, should be considered alongside other possible solutions to global warming.
Prior to this point, suggestions put forward to combat climate change have focused on geo-engineering, amounting to little more than global scientific experiments that could very easily result in unintended, negative consequences. Suggested solutions include installing a giant mirror in space to intercept the sun’s rays before they reach earth, cloud seeding, genetically modified crops, pumping liquid CO2 deep into the bedrock of the planet, and on, and on…
Enter Liao and company. They attempt to make the case that rather than focusing on retooling the planet, we should tinker with the genetic code of mankind in an effort to reduce waste and increase humanity’s ability to adapt.
Beyond advocating enforced population control, which is a favorite subject among the globalists these days, they go further, suggesting that if the size of the average human could be condensed, we’d require less energy and thus use fewer resources.
You read that correctly.
Another more striking example of human engineering is the possibility of making humans smaller. Human ecological footprints are partly correlated with our size. We need a certain amount of food and nutrients to maintain each kilogram of body mass. This means that, other things being equal, the larger one is, the more food and energy one requires…A way to reduce ecological footprints, then, would be to reduce size. Since weight increases with the cube of length, even a small reduction in, e.g., height, might produce a significant effect in size, other things being equal (To reduce size, one could also try to reduce average weight or average weight and height, but to keep the discussion simple, we shall use just the example of height).
Ever more disconcerting is that Liao and his colleagues also argue for the “pharmacological enhancement of altruism and empathy,” or the enforced drugging of the whole of humanity. Liao believes that if only humanity could be made more empathetic via pharmaceuticals, “we may be able to enjoy the sort of benefits that arise only when large numbers of people act together.” He states in his report:
…test subjects given the prosocial hormone oxytocin were more willing to share money with strangers and to behave in a more trustworthy way. Also, a noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor increased social engagement and cooperation with a reduction in self-focus during a mixed motive game.
One is immediately reminded of the chillingly accurate predictions of dystopian author Aldous Huxley, who wrote in 1958:
Now let us consider another kind of drug…a drug capable of making people feel happy in situations where they would normally feel miserable. Such a drug would be a blessing, but a blessing fraught with grave political dangers. By making harmless chemical euphoria freely available, a dictator could reconcile an entire population to a state of affairs to which self-respecting human beings ought not to be reconciled. Despots have always found it necessary to supplement force by political or religious propaganda. In this sense the pen is mightier than the sword. But mightier than either the pen or the sword is the pill…The dictatorships of tomorrow will deprive men of their freedom, but will give them in exchange a happiness none the less real, as a subjective experience, for being chemically induced. The pursuit of happiness is one of the traditional rights of man; unfortunately, the achievement of happiness may turn out to be incompatible with another of man’s rights – namely, liberty.
In a recent interview with Ross Andersen at The Atlantic, Liao was asked about the ethical problems associated with drugging the human race into a state of empathy or compassion. He responded:
Yes. It’s certainly ethically problematic to insert beliefs into people, and so we want to be clear that‘s not something we’re proposing. 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.
One wonders how these people sleep at night.
Assuming for the moment that climate change is entirely man-made and Liao’s presumptions are correct, the answer is genetic engineering? What happened to good, old-fashioned, self-restraint? There is little correlation between need and use of resources, as Liao could have found out with a simple internet search. The United States, for example, with 5% of the world’s population, utilizes 25% of the world’s fossil fuels. Americans also throw out an estimated 200,000 tons of edible food on a daily basis. Clearly, our consumption of energy goes well beyond need.
And the mind-boggling suggestion that the human race be drugged into an empathetic state is one of the most naive and ill-conceived suggestions I’ve ever heard from a man of science. Assuming it’s a matter of “will,” as Liao states in his interview, drugs aren’t selective. If my will is made malleable enough to send a check to Oxfam, why not cut a check to Monsanto at the same time? Hell, if they ask nicely enough, I just might (in my pharmaceutically expanded capacity for empathy) go to work for them, or anyone else for that matter.
This is elementary logic, and as Liao and the gang apparently don’t possess the necessary skills to think their suggestions through, he and his incompetent colleagues should be removed from any position of influence within academia.