If human activity is responsible for climate change, then changing human behaviour should be a major goal of efforts to protect the environment. But what about the idea of changing humans themselves?
Developing low-impact human beings through genetic and biological engineering is the unlikely - and HIGHLY controversial - suggestion made in a paper published in the journal Ethics, Policy and the Environment by a group of scholars led by New York University philosophy and bioethics professor S. Matthew Liao. Their ideas include everything from creating people who have an inherent aversion to meat to making people who are just plain smaller - kind of like Smart cars, but in person form.
As you might imagine, the paper's proposals are not likely to go down well with a lot of people. Never mind the crazy ethical minefield that comes with designing humans on any level - the idea of actually changing human beings in order to reduce their environmental impact seems like the most frightening Doomsday scenario imaginable.
But Professor Liao is nothing if not thoughtful, and he has sat down for an interesting discussion of his ideas with The Atlantic's Ross Andersen. It makes for a fascinating read, and if nothing else, the very idea of having this type of conversation shows how dire some people consider the situation to be.
For the record, Liao and his colleagues do not "approve any coercive human engineering", and in his interview he emphasizes the "voluntary nature of the proposed modifications."
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