What If We Humans Could Do Photosynthesis Like Plants?


Like every other living organisms, we humans require energy to function as well. We need food, water and oxygen to survive. In the stone age, we used to hunt and forage for food to sustain ourselves.

Today, we have tons of options and it's not even about sustaining yourself anymore. It's about pleasing your tastebuds! Anyways, this puts a lot of burden on the environment. We have to cultivate unimaginable amounts of plants and animals to satisfy our hunger.

But what if there was a better way? What if we didn't have to rely on any other organisms at all? Does that sound familiar? That's because this is already happening. With plants.

You might have learned in school about photosynthesis. It's a process by which plants convert water, minerals, carbon dioxide and sunlight into energy. They store that energy in the form of sugar and that's what we depend on for food. But what if we could replicate this process and do it ourselves?

Biohacking Our Way to Self-Sustenance?

We are increasingly getting more advanced with our biohacking capabilities. It is not too far-fetched to think that in the future we might gain the ability to genetically modify ourselves to be able to do photosynthesis.

In theory, that would mean that we could survive based off of water, carbon dioxide, minerals and sunlight. No need to harvest plants or animals at all! The burden that we put on the environment would be gone and we would, in fact, start having a positive impact on it by giving out oxygen. What a thought!

If we achieve this and decide to go this route, we would all be green in colour. That's the price we'd have to pay! We'd also need to be more efficient with photosynthesis than plants which only convert 5%-10% of the sunlight falling on them. That would be necessary to get the 2000-3000 required calories per day for an average human.

So, do you think we should even think about doing this? Maybe someday this could be done but in a way that doesn't change us into green beings or make adjustments where we don't want to. Who knows how any technology unfolds and becomes mainstream! It is something cool to think about though.

Comments 15

its amazing research material bro. great

11.01.2020 18:46

Yeah, pretty interesting!

12.01.2020 10:03

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11.01.2020 19:01

Plants can survive on photosynthesis because they don't move and thus are not required to maintain high body temperature. Animals have much larger energy requirements and thus need to eat plants or each other to obtain chemical energy for maintaining their metabolism.

If photosynthesis was adequate for animals, you'd see mobile plants and/or photosynthesizing animals. But they are few and far between. At some point in evolutionary history, animals gave up for photosynthesis altogether. Possibly because of the omnipresence of plant material to consume. But it turns out there are a few animals that can do photosynthesis: the green slug, the spotted salamander and the green aphid.


11.01.2020 19:12

Yeah, also the calorie requirement is quite high in animals. I wonder if we biohacking can solve the problem you've stated.

12.01.2020 10:03

Animals have had a billion years to evolve solutions to that.

12.01.2020 12:10

Even if man was able to come up with a method that did not require the use of nature to survive, we would still want to conquer it, to use it, to eat it. Curing the cravings of man is an ongoing nightmare. Evolution may one day solve the craving issue, but then what would we do, where would we go, what would drive and motivate us to do anything? No food needed, just water and a few micro minerals, we would all grow roots and do like trees and plants sit around waiting for something to come and end our lives.

11.01.2020 19:48

Yup, that's a different matter altogether. I think desires or cravings can't be done away with. I think it might be fundamental to life itself.

12.01.2020 10:05

I know a lot of people see cravings as bad or the same as addictions, but I see that they are a part and parcel of us. The cravings are what kind of tell us "hey you need this, or Hey, time to find greener pastures"

12.01.2020 19:09

It's a fascinating idea. Great for endurance sports, especially when oxygen is a limiting factor (swimming, cycling in the mountains).

But wouldn't it require being naked outside? And you'd probably feel unwell if you weren't in the sun. Maybe you wouldn't need to be naked if you had branches with leaves growing out of your shoulders.

Biohacking will be necessary to survive in desert climates after a few degrees of global warming. Photosynthesis might help; plants use water so inefficiently that it's a form of sweating.

We don't have to become green, by the way. Any pigment can be used to capture light. There are red, brown, olive-green and even neon-blue algae.

12.01.2020 01:02

hehe, yeah, so many other issues even though the idea itself is good.

Oh, I read that only chlorophyll (which is green) can capture the sunlight and use it for energy.

12.01.2020 10:07

Nice outtake on gene editing. And the future to change your sperm line gene encoding is way far away because humanity is basically forward {other than China}

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12.01.2020 01:57

It's still decades away I think.

12.01.2020 10:05

I guess that means we don't needd to eat all kinds of crap but everything on the food chain may go out of business 😎

12.01.2020 02:39

If it is achieved then yes, we wouldn't need to eat. (assuming all our energy requirements can be met by this method)

12.01.2020 10:06