S. Matthew Liao, a philosopher and bioethicist, has some incredible ideas about how to deal with climate change. Instead of resorting to geoengineering, he suggests, why not consider engineering humans to cause less damage to the planet? Ross Andersen interviewed Liao, and one of the most fascinating ideas that they discussed is the possibility of selecting embryos that will grow into "smaller, less resource-intensive children." Here's Liao's argument:
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.
That starts sounding a little too dystopian a little too fast for my taste. But geoengineering ideas -- spraying the sky with chemicals that turn it white and reflect more heat back into space, for instance -- can fit just as easily into the creepy sci-fi "the robots are taking over" genre. Here are some of Liao's other ideas: