“To deal with climate change… make people smaller”

matthew liao


Three American and British scientists (including one on the picture above, named Matthew Liao) have figured out one extreme, hypothetical solution to solve the decades-old climate change that has hampered the entire world, severely affected its currently fragile ecological balance: create a brand-new human race that is, physically speaking, small. Small in the sense that they will be smaller than us, the already small, tiny creatures now relying on machines of monstrous enormity in satisfying our consumerist needs and desires. But that is ‘infinitesimal’ compared to their ongoing ‘attempts’ to purify humanity’s moral values, their perception of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and what’s more, the alteration of humankind’s view on philosophy.

Source: Improbable Research. You can read their proposed human-engineering research paper in Matthew Liao’s personal blog.

Excerpt (I’ll take one example of their envisioned solutions):


Making humans smaller


One way is through preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). While genetic modifications to control height are likely to be quite complex and beyond our current capacities, it nevertheless seems possible now to use PGD to select shorter children. This would not involve intervening to change the genetic material of embryos, or employing any clinical methods not currently used. It would simply involve rethinking the criteria for selecting which embryos to implant.

Another method of affecting height is to use hormone treatment either to affect somatotropin levels or to trigger the closing of the epiphyseal plate earlier than normal (this sometimes occurs accidentally through vitamin A overdoses (Rothenberg et al. 2007)).  Hormone treatments are used for growth reduction in excessively tall children (Bramswig et al. 1988; Grüters et al. 1989). Currently, somatostatin (an inhibitor of growth hormone) is being studied as a safer alternative (Hindmarsh et al. 1995).

Finally, a more speculative and controversial way of reducing adult height is to reduce birth weight. There is a correlation between birth weight and adult height (Sorensen et al. 1999), according to which birth weight at the lower edge of the normal distribution tends to result in the adult’s being ≈5 cm shorter. Birth height has an even stronger effect for adult height. If one is born at the lower edge of the normal distribution of height, this tends to produce ≈15 cm shorter adult height.  Gene imprinting has been found to affect birth size, as a result of evolutionary competition between paternally and maternally imprinted genes (Burt and Trivers 2006).  Drugs or nutrients that either reduce the expression of paternally imprinted genes, or increase the expression of maternally imprinted genes, could potentially regulate birth size.

If you still remember: how to capture a robber without killing everyone


Almost nobody has ever talked about Hsieh Kuo-cheng other than Ig Nobel Prize enthusiasts and extremists; if you do still remember, if you do still very patiently browse every single bizarre, absurd, but oftentimes scientifically provoking article posted in Marc Abraham’s Improbable Research blog, you can refer to this 2007 article about the Taiwanese inventor who built up a special win-win device which neither kills the victims nor the perpetrators themselves.

NB: Even Hsieh Kuo-cheng’s life has been marked with mysteries. Briefly after his invention, he disappeared somewhere else, presumed to be either dead or killed by some syndicate displeased with his product, only to secretly appear in Ig Nobel Prize ceremony held in the same year, with few people having known the reasons he did so. Yeah, that’s pretty a mystery.

Anyway, the video above is released in 2007, so this post must have been outdated itself for 7 years.