Today, in the spirit of Christmas, we offer the following attitude check from Twitter.
Nick Harkaway (@Harkaway)
China announced a new warning policy for their one child per family edict. According to Yahoo! News, the previous harsh announcements are to be replaced with new, less threatening statements. Let’s compare old and new.
Old: “If you don’t receive the tubal ligation surgery by the deadline, your house will be demolished!”
New: “Caring for the girl means caring for the future of the nation.”
Old: “We would rather scrape your womb than allow you to have a second child!”
New: “Please get rid of the alcohol and cigarettes before you plan to be a father.”
Old: “Kill all your family members if you don’t follow the rule!”
“Once you get captured, an immediate tubal ligation will be done; Should you escape, we’ll hunt you down; If you attempt a suicide, we’ll offer you either the rope or a bottle of poison.”
No other examples of the newer phrasing were available in press reports.
At pfpfp, we’re disappointed in the Chinese government for knuckling under to the population growth extremists. After all, so far the one-child policy has produced a nation that will be mostly men in a few generations. Talk about population control!
Eggs can now be created, more bad news for the planet. This is the most depressing news we’ve heard in a long time, right up there with the planet’s population passing 7 billion. Apparently human eggs can now be created from stem cells. More eggs, more fertility, more people. Do we really want this?
From NPR Monday, February 27:
‘Study Suggests Way To Create New Eggs In Women
by Rob Stein
NPR – February 27, 2012
For decades, scientists have thought that one of the big differences between men and women is that men can make children all their lives because men never stop making sperm. But scientific dogma said women aren’t so lucky when it comes to their eggs.
“The traditional belief in the field has been that when a baby girl is born, she is given a bank account of eggs, and that bank cannot be added to, only withdrawn from,” said Jonathan Tilly, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.
In 2004, Tilly shocked the scientific world when he claimed he had found primitive “stem” cells hiding in the ovaries of adult female mice that could generate new eggs. That raised the possibility that it might be true for women as well.
In a series of experiments being published in the March issue of the journal Nature Medicine, Tilly and his colleagues say they have proved young adult women have the same cells.
“What this means is that little bank account of eggs that a little girl gets at birth is in fact open to continued deposits,” Tilly said.
Here’s what Tilly and his colleagues did: First, they got some ovarian tissue from young women. Then they isolated cells that appeared identical to the ones they had found in mice. Next, they say, they showed that the cells can develop into eggs in a dish in the laboratory.
“Right before our eyes, in culture dishes, we were watching that process happen for the first time,” Tilly said.
The researchers then injected the cells back into human ovarian tissue to see if they would turn into eggs on their own. To make sure they were looking at the right cells, the scientists genetically engineered them to glow green. The cells started turning into eggs — and even formed crucial structures called follicles, the researchers report.
“It is those follicle structures that are key to maturing that egg cell to the point where it becomes able to accept sperm and produce an embryo,” he said.’
Innovation. That’s what we need. One overlooked group are marauders as population control methods. Today’s New York Times “Review” section includes an article detailing the number of people killed by various warlords, mass murderers, and wars since 400 B.C. (“Population Control, Marauder Style,” New York Times, November 6, 2011). Leading the list: Genghis Khan, responsible for killing 11.1 percent of total world population between 1206 and 1227 A.D. Here’s the nifty graphic, but for a real high-definition version you must visit the Times website.
At pfpfp, we salute these heroes of population control.
Here at pfpfp we’re very depressed by the idea that there are seven billion people on the planet. On the plus side, this number means the planet will get killed even faster, so perhaps there is an upside.
There’s just not much more to say.
“In 1966, a Nobel Prize-winning biologist named Joshua Lederberg suggested, in an essay in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, that because human evolution could now be directed by scientific means, we ought to seriously consider what kinds of changes we might like to see. A year later, in a provocative—and bizarre—essay for the July 1967 issue ofTechnology Review, a pair of MIT civil-engineering professors named Robert Hansen and Myle Holley considered one such change: making people smaller.” (Maher, Timothy, “The Shrinkage Solution,” Technology Review, September/October 2011, p. 120)
Now there’s an idea. Genetically engineer people to be smaller. They will then use fewer resources.
Of course, like any strategy, this one has costs. Basketball will become much less interesting (unless they lower the rims). Football will probably be less violent. Whether that is a cost or a benefit is for you to decide.
The original authors (Hansen and Holley) go on to make this comment:
“If, as the authors believe, the question of human size merits thought, it appears more reasonable to consider a decrease rather than an increase in size. First, an increase in size would clearly aggravate the problems we already associate with our excessive rate of population growth. Second, the advantages of large size and physical strength (in the performance of useful labor, the resolution of individual and group conflicts, etc.) have been almost entirely eliminated by technology.”
Here we are 44 years later and the ratio of global food output to population has risen steadily. Yet the neo-Malthusians continue to predict catastrophe. Some day their predictions may come true. But if you flip a coin and allow it to fall on the table, there is a slight probability that it will land on its edge. Like the predictions of global catastrophe, you just need to wait long enough.