The Fault in Ourselves: Modifying Human Biology to Escape Climate Change

By most scientific accounts, the world's governments have been too slow to react to climate change. The idea of slowing economic growth to combat carbon emissions has proven too unpalatable.

What's the Latest?


By most scientific accounts, the world's governments have been too slow to react to climate change. The idea of slowing economic growth to combat carbon emissions has proven too unpalatable. Refraining from eating meat, equally so, even though livestock farming accounts for 18 percent of global carbon emissions. But what if humans could be biologically engineered so the taste of meat became repulsive? Matthew Liao, director of the Bioethics Programme at New York University, says: "We can artificially induce intolerance to red meat by stimulating the immune system against common bovine proteins." Imagine a medical aid similar to a nicotine patch that made you sick if you ate red meat.

What's the Big Idea?

Nearly all of our solutions to combating climate change have focused on alleviating secondary causes, but what about humans' insatiable desire for more consumption, more food, more transportation--more everything? Other physical modifications could limit how much we demand from the planet's natural resources. For example, were humans just six inches shorter, we would have 25 percent less mass to carry around with us, resulting in substantially less energy consumption. Modified eyes could allows us to see better in the dark, meaning less electricity use, and covering our skin in chlorophyll would allow us to take energy directly from the sun. What a brave new world that would be.

Read more at BBC Future

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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