In my junior year of college, I took sometime off from my chemistry studies and went to Oxford University to study English literature, philosophy and Latin.
To pay my way, I poured pints at The Turf Tavern. The Turf’s motto is “Find us if you can!” because it is a pub nestled right outside the old city walls with only two small alleyways that lead to it. It was purposefully hidden due to the illegal activity like drinking and gambling that would take place there over the centuries. The Turf is an old pub, possibly the oldest in Oxford, dating all the way back to the 13th century.
What does my beloved Turf Tavern have to do with the engineering of humans? Well, if there was one thing I learned working at the Turf was that people back in the 13th century were short. And they were small. The Turf Tavern is notorious for its low ceilings. Trying to squeeze my average size 12 backside up the stairwell while simultaneously ducking, each time I had to go speak to my manager, (his name was Biff Clifford – no joke) I realized how much bigger humans are today. It made me ponder how much bigger we will get in the next 500 years.
Fast forward to modern day, and I am married to a man who is 6’7″ and weighs around 325. He is a giant that wears size 16 shoes. I would take him back to the Turf Tavern for a visit, (if his scary long legs would fit in a coach airplane seat) but he would not be able to stand up straight in there.
Because my husband is such a large man, we make different choices. Our furniture does not come from Ikea. No pressboard for us, only real wood. Our cars do not get good gas mileage. Watching him try to squeeze into anything other than a Suburban is a pretty entertaining sight. And do not even get me started on the laundry. A few of his items, and the washer is full. My four children will be giants as well. At 5’4″ I will be the shortest and smallest by far.
Which brings me to the human engineering. I found this MIT review called “The Shrinkage Solution.” It is about a decades old proposal that we should consider engineering humans to be smaller. In 1967, at the same time the Western world was fearful of overpopulation, civil engineers Robert Hansen and Myle Holley suggested that we use technology to make people shrink with the idea that smaller people consume less and take up less space. Hansen and Holley wrote:
We wish here to comment on one kind of human change—a change of physical size—which apparently would be far less difficult to achieve than the modifications we infer to be potentially feasible through genetic alchemy. Indeed, it is our understanding that controlled, substantial modification of size may require only the judicious application of findings in the area of endocrinology.
Can we afford not to consider, in all its aspects, the question of human size?
A reduction in man’s size might be compared to an increase in the size of the earth.
Consider, as but one example, the relation of man’s size to the facilities provided for his transportation. Smaller man could mean smaller vehicles, either smaller highway rights of way or greater capacity for existing highways, easier provision for off-street parking … Similar benefits of smaller human size become apparent in buildings.
This may seems like a ludicrous idea. But remember at the time this was written the West was panicked about overpopulation. The Population Bomb, a book by Paul Ehlrich that warned of food shortages as early as the 1970s, came out in 1968. As reported by Mara Hvistendahl in her book Unnatural Selection, western population control advocates, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, Planned Parenthood, the guy who made Dixie cups and even Disney poured money and propaganda into Asia convincing them that they needed to control their population or their children would suffer and the world would starve. Some also argued that it was morally acceptable to abort their girls to achieve population goals. Now Asia is faced with not only an aging population, but one where there is a dearth of women.
Why should we care about a decades old proposal to engineer humans to be smaller? It is a warning. Then it was overpopulation, now it is “climate change.” True believers that humans are destroying the planet will suggest anything to “save the environment.” From a global one-child policy, to volunteer extinction, to a virus that wipes out 90% of the human population, draconian ideas to control the virus of humanity lurk everywhere. Be mindful that the environmental movement of today hides a real hatred for humanity and may embrace all kinds of craziness to rid the planet of our over consumption. Evidenced by the MIT reviewer ending his piece with Hansen and Holley’s question:
But need we prejudge the issue? Or should we seriously study the question?
It is not lost on me that it would be my family that would be the most worthy of “study.”
LifeNews.com Note: Rebecca Taylor is a clinical laboratory specialist in molecular biology, and a practicing pro-life Catholic who writes at the bioethics blog Mary Meets Dolly. She has been writing and speaking about Catholicism and biotechnology for five years and has been interviewed on EWTN radio on topics from stem cell research and cloning to voting pro-life. Taylor has a B.S. in Biochemistry from University of San Francisco with a national certification in clinical Molecular Biology MB (ASCP).