Tessa's Tête-à-Tête
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Wednesday, 15 June 2005
Cockroaches and Human Fertility
Topic: In the News
So, it appears that the lowly cockroach, that detested insect pest, shares more with us ladies than just our kitchens. Biologists at Manchester University, who are undertaking research into increased fertility problems in women who put off having children until they are older, now believe that cockroaches hold the key to the mysteries of women's fertility.

They are particularly interested in the mating behaviour of the dusky roach (Nauphoet cinera). The female cockroach is unusual as she bears live young and also experiences reproductive cycles and becomes less fertile with age. If breeding is delayed, the cockroaches lose reproductive potential apparently due to a biochemical reaction which may be similar to that of human beings. Now, I ask myself, why do scientists spend so much time and so many resources on human fertility when half of the world population is starving?

If we believe what we are told, it is possible that in another fifty to sixty years scientists will have conquered ageing, that inevitable process which causes the human cell to divide and reproduce a finite number of times with increasing errors. If that happens, my great, great grandchildren may be able to look forward to living to be 150 years old but - in what sort of world?

We have problems today with a growing percentage of pensioners compared to the working population. So, shouldn't a curb be put on human reproduction instead of trying to prolong human fertility? Do we really want to see women of sixty or seventy still bearing children? Do we really want to have to carry on working until we are ninety? Is the ultimate fate of mankind to live packed like sardines in mile-high tenements? In such a world, I envisage most people having to work from home because public transport and road systems can no longer cope. A nightmarish future where there are so many people that 'shifts' have to be imposed for recreational purposes or for shopping.

Learning all we can about the human genome is a good thing. But I wonder if scientists are considering all the consequences for humanity when they dream about prolonging human fertility.

Posted by Noviomagus at 18:18 BST Post Comment | View Comments (3) | Permalink

Friday, 17 June 2005 - 13:45 BST

Name: doubledog

Exactly!!! Anyone who has spent all day taking care of a grandchild and then tiredly waved goodbye as the child went home with its parents, anyone like that would ask, "Are you out of your mind?" of a lunatic attempting to facilitate human reproduction in the 60's, 70's. Somehow I sense that these experiments are done by men...who don't do gestation, labor, and subsequent child care.

Saturday, 18 June 2005 - 11:16 BST

Name: Tessa

Unfortunately, birth control has 'liberated' too many women who wait until their late thirties before thinking they might start a family. Then they discover that they can't conceive. So, a lot of money is spent on in-vitro fertilisation and they end up with three or four children all at once. The 'right' to have children is tempered with responsibilities - to the child and to society.

How much longer can the world sustain its billions? One day, misery, desease, war and starvation will be endemic on a global scale. Indeed, if extra-terrestrials visited Earth today, they would probably consider the human race a plague on a planet that we have over-run and which we are gradually destroying.

Sunday, 19 June 2005 - 11:44 BST

Name: doubledog

Well, it sure does seem that way from a vantage point in a city. We're all squashed in on one another.

A few times I've travelled across the American midwest, northwest, west and southwest, though, and I can tell you that a kazillion acres of emptiness exist still. Vast tracts where not one building can be seen. Also in the American east, Appalachia looks empty from the air. I flew over it five times in 2003-2004 during the winter with no leaves on trees to obscure the view. The plane I was in flew for at least an hour while I saw no evidence of human occupation below. Probably down below were occasional cabins, but nothing large enough to be seen from above, no towns, no groups of buildings. I drove down through there at least seven times in the last five years and always had trouble getting cell phone service...partly because of the elevation but also because there are so few transfer towers. Then the place where we have our farm, Venango County, Pennsylvania, has fewer than 60,000 souls in the entire county. That most reliable indicator of population density, the frequency of McDonalds franchises, tells us that in all of Venango county, there are 4 McDonalds...not enough people to support more.

As seen in America, the human race has piled up onto itself in coastal cities, as well as around lakes and along major rivers, but most of the country still lies open and quiet, comfortingly empty of human noise, fuss and mess. When we go to the farm, there's nothing between us and the Allegheny River but seven miles of forest, mountains and streams where there are plenty of bear, eagles, deer, fox, squirrels, etc, but not one human habitation. Here on 38th Street the human race is over the top, but as long as I COULD get away to the farm for solitude, I can handle the daily closeness of other people.

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