World Bank Luminary: Breed Smaller People To Increase “Metabolic Efficiency”

Jurriaan Maessen
October 23, 2012

Influential former senior economist of the World Bank’s Environment Department suggests “human organisms might be genetically redesigned to require less food, air, and water.”

In an article titled The Populations Problem written two days ago by Herman Daly, a former World Bank luminary and current professor at the University of Maryland suggests genetically designing smaller human beings to counter global population growth. Breeding smaller human beings, Daly asserts, “could be the simplest way of increasing metabolic efficiency (measured as number of people maintained by a given resource throughput).”

In his article, Daly rejects the argument that limiting human numbers is an automatic result of technological progress and economic growth, the so called “demographic transition”, and points to the environmental dangers posed by just lowering the birthrates through development and prosperity. Daly:

“Of course reduction in fertility by automatic correlation with rising standard of living is politically easy, while direct fertility reduction is politically difficult. But what is politically easy may be environmentally destructive.”

After prepping his argument with formulas the professor reveals his demonic side by stating that humans have long since bred plants and livestock, re-engineering them to larger size, so why not apply the same sort of engineering to human cattle. Here is the quote in full:

“(…) human organisms might be genetically redesigned to require less food, air, and water. Indeed smaller people would be the simplest way of increasing metabolic efficiency (measured as number of people maintained by a given resource throughput). To my knowledge no one has yet suggested breeding smaller people as a way to avoid limiting births, but that probably just reflects my ignorance. We have, however, been busy breeding and genetically engineering larger and faster-growing plants and livestock. So far, the latter dissipative structures have been complementary with populations of human bodies, but in a finite and full world, the relationship will soon become competitive.”

The professor, by the way, is wrong in asserting that the suggestion is his to claim. Earlier this year professor of philosophy and bioethics at New York University S. Matthew Liao wrote a paper in which he proposes a plethora of human engineering possibilities to “help humans consume less”. One of Liao’s proposals states that parents could make use of genetic engineering or hormone therapy in order to birth smaller, “less resource-intensive children”.

It seems the “ethicists” and ecological economists of this world have driven out the last shreds of humanity as one draconian measures is piled on the next in the name of reason and scientific dignity. A phrase like “dissipative structures”, used by professor Daly, is a clear example of how these academic acrobats apply scientific language to debase life.

“The population problem should be considered from the point of view of all populations — populations of both humans and their artifacts (cars, houses, livestock, cell phones, etc.) — in short, populations of all “dissipative structures” engendered, bred, or built by humans. In other words, the populations of human bodies and of their extensions. Or in yet other words, the populations of all organs that support human life and the enjoyment thereof, both endosomatic (within the skin) and exosomatic (outside the skin) organs.”

This, of course, is a case of stupid dressed like smart as the professor applies economic standard terminology to the mysterious force that is life and all its inherent beauty and depth, degrading all this to a simple formula- and making suggestions logically flowing from this formula.

“The reason for pluralizing the “population problem” to the populations of all dissipative structures is two-fold. First, all these populations require a metabolic throughput from low-entropy resources extracted from the environment and eventually returned to the environment as high-entropy wastes, encountering both depletion and pollution limits.”

The formula our professor Daly harkens back to is easily imagined, with thanks to Paul Ehrlich and John P. Holdren:

“(…) consider the I = PAT formula. P, population of human bodies, is one set of dissipative structures. A, affluence, or GDP per capita, reflects another set of dissipative structures — cars, buildings, ships, toasters, iPads, cell phones, etc. (not to mention populations of livestock and agricultural plants). In a finite world some populations grow at the expense of others. Cars and humans are now competing for land, water, and sunlight to grow either food or fuel. More nonhuman dissipative structures will at some point force a reduction in other dissipative structures, namely human bodies.”

“(…) demographers’ interest”, Daly continues, “should extend to the populations of all dissipative structures, their metabolic throughputs, and the relations of complementarity and substitutability among them. Economists should analyze the supply, demand, production, and consumption of all these populations within an ecosphere that is finite, non-growing, entropic, and open only to a fixed flow of solar energy.”

What is now the territory of ecological economists and bioethicists was previously the terrain of European royalty. Monarchs throughout history have cultivated crossbreeding animals so they could enjoy hunting their game knowing they had designed their kill before they shot it. Because these blue bloods considered their subjects to be little more than animals, the inevitable next step was that they should expand their experimentations to human quarry. One attempt to breed a subservient class was made by Frederick William I from the house of Hohenzollern, king of Prussia at the beginning of the 18th century.

To the amazement of fellow-rulers and trembling subjects alike, the Soldier-King (as Frederick was nicknamed) began to collect giant men as one would collect rare stamps. From all over Prussia he had his agents look for- and oftentimes kidnap- men suffering from gigantism. In striving to create his own personal soldier core of giants, the king instructed his subjects to immediately signal the authorities whenever they should become aware of exceptionally tall men in the vicinity. He also made clear to his political allies that they could keep their gifts of gold for themselves as long as they provided him now and then with fresh giants to fill up his stock.

If someone was unfortunate enough to be over six feet tall and born in the Prussian sphere of influence (which was quite extensive), he would sooner or later be noticed and assigned to the king’s private collection. With an ambition that would put Marie Stopes to shame Frederick gathered from all over Europe the most impressive “samples” and selected each and every one of them personally before sending them to his sub-level experimentation chambers. The most notorious of these experiments was the stretching of his victims on a specially constructed rack to make them even taller than they already were. Frederick would sometimes preside over these racking sessions while enjoying his lunch at the same time. As only a German blue-blood could devise, the king forced his rapidly shrinking collection to interbreed with equally tall women so as to build a future army of giants, which would be the envy of Europe’s upper-class. Here he actually attempted to breed a “new man”, and it is said that the city of Potsdam, lair of the Hohenzollerns, was littered with unusually tall men at the end of the 18th century as a result. It is sad, this tale of the Potsdam giants. They fell victim to the elite’s bloodthirsty appetite and unwittingly became one of the first to be sacrificed on the altar of eugenics.

It is true. What professor Daly and others within the scientific community are proposing is an extreme follow-up to these earlier breeding programs. The difference is that today these suggestions are being made in the name of the planet. In its core beats the same old dehumanizing heart, or un-heart, revealing a disdain for all that is alive, and for all who are prosperous.


2 responses to “World Bank Luminary: Breed Smaller People To Increase “Metabolic Efficiency”

  1. Sir, have you considered that ‘breeding smaller humans’ and claiming a lack of knowledge therein may be Daly’s sarcasm and wit?

    Does Daly reject the argument that limiting human numbers is an automatic result of technological progress and economic growth or does he make that point that if numbers are reduced and developmental standards improved, the environment may still be damaged (an example of his point being the US has fewer citizens than China – about 25%, but an overall greater consumption – about 25% of the world’s resources)?

    Sir, how good is your understanding of the current resource constraints the planet is facing? I am a student of this subject and find my knowledge constantly challenged by how little I know.

    Sir, how good is your understanding of Neo-Classical Economics? If you have a pot of water 20 glasses worth with no further input into your pot, how quickly would you sell all the water in the pot? How much would you charge? What is the optimal price? Would you consider the aggregate demand curve with the given fixed supply? For is that not the standard question of Neo-Classical Economics taught in every under graduate and graduate seminar? Has Neo-Classical economics questioned how the pot gets replenished?

    Sir, you point out that life is a mystery to you. Have you considered that there may be other viewpoints that may not find the same mysteries in life that you do? Would you find mystery in the chemical composition of the human brain? Would you find mystery in mathematics? Would you find mystery in the explanation behind Higgs field? Would you find mystery in the uncertainty principle or for that matter in the precautionary principle?

    Sir, have you considered that Daly may be trying to preserve life by explaining economic standard terminology as it applies to other areas, and therein the philosophical roots of Neo-Classical Economics? Have you considered that breeding is not what is advocated, but what is feared as a best case solution? Have you considered that current inequity in the world is driven by Neo-Classical Economists, and Ecological Economists are the greatest proponents of distributive justice for it is essential to save the world (no, I am not an ecological economist but those I know do not sleep well with what they know of our current challenges as a species)?

    Sir, have you considered that the planet owes humanity nothing and that our environmental problems are ours to solve? Therefore, Liao (an Associate Professor and not full Professor as you mention, though with admirable credentials – Oxford, Princeton, NYU, Georgetown, John Hopkins) who is concerned with “ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, moral psychology, and bioethics”, discusses in his paper what is easier, modifying humans or modifying the planet, Daly discusses how excessive consumption would play into the fight for life itself, an obvious example is the exploitation of employees at Foxconn for you to get an iPhone for 179.99. Sir, have you considered that you may be a mystery of life for those who get the short end of the stick?

    Finally, Sir, are you aware of the straw man fallacy? European nobility, and your tremendous knowledge of it ( aside, have you considered that your entire argument may be based on a false premise?

    Thank you for reading and understanding what you have and I beg you to continue your efforts to read works by Daly and Liao, while maybe paying a little less attention to Alex Jones.

  2. Maybe we could get the techs at Foxconn to have people transistorized. Now that would save spave.

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