Monday, April 30, 2012


by Lynn Costello
Some teased me about being short; it wasn’t until seventh grade that I finally reached the five foot mark.  I’ve gotten used to needing a stool to reach the top shelf and I learned how to hem pants at an early age (that was before they started making “petites”).  But now I learn that I have been beneficial to the environment.  Who knew?

Recently reported in Reason Magazine is “The Short People Solution to Climate Change” by Ronald Bailey who states that researchers at New York University and Oxford University will be publishing a new paper in which they argue that short people are more climate- friendly.  Environmental concerns have motivated such studies before:

·       In 1967 Technology Review published an article that among other things, argued that smaller man could mean smaller vehicles and either smaller highway rights of way or greater capacity for existing highways.

·       In 1984, the Washington Post in an article on how to feed a growing world population cited futurist Graham Molliter as envisioning the use of genetic engineering to produce smaller people –who need less food.”
In the new study ethicist suggest that shrinking the average size of human beings may have an impact on the amount of atmosphere-warming carbon dioxide humanity produces by burning fossil fuels.  Their aim is to show that human engineering deserves consideration alongside other solutions in the debate about how to solve the problem of climate change.    Besides size, humans could also be altered to be meat aversive.  Another suggestion to reduce the number of births is cognitive enhancement as the authors maintain that there seems to be a link between cognition itself and lower birth-rates.  As envisioned, human engineering would be a voluntary activity, possibly supported by incentives such as tax breaks or sponsored health care.
I wonder if I can get some of those carbon credits for a lifetime of taking up less space and leaving a slightly smaller footprint.

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