A controversial academic paper is garnering a lot of criticism in the online world.

This article titled “Bioengineer humans to tackle climate change, say philosophers” was written by Leo Hickman, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 14th March 2012 12.59 UTC

Earlier this week, The Atlantic ran an eye-catching, disturbing interview with a professor of philosophy and bioethics at New York University called S. Matthew Liao. He was invited to discuss a forthcoming paper he has co-authored which will soon be published in the journal Ethics, Policy & Environment.

But within just a few hours of the interview going live a torrent of outrage and abuse was being directed towards him online. As I tweeted at the time, the interview was indeed “unsettling”. Liao explained how his paper – entitled, “Human Engineering and Climate Change” – explored the so-far-ignored subject of how “biomedical modifications of humans” could be used to “mitigate and/or adapt to climate change”. The modifications discussed included: giving people drugs to make them have an adverse reaction to eating meat; making humans smaller via gene imprinting and “preimplantation genetic diagnosis”; lowering birth-rates through “cognitive enhancement”; genetically engineering eyesight to work better in the dark to help reduce the need for lighting; and the “pharmacological enhancement of altruism and empathy” to engender a better “correlation” with environmental problems.

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