Archive for August, 2011

Mosquitoes, Balls, and Humanity

August 19, 2011

Nimrod: great-grandson of Noah, a frequent symbol of power and evil, pitted against Abraham, first person to experience the ass-blistering annoyance that is, the mosquito. In Islamic legend, Allah sends mosquitoes to punish Nimrod. What happens, is one of these tiny bastards flies into homeboy’s ear and starts buzzing on a trillion. I mean this bug gets it in. Nimrod gets so aggravated by the buzzing he orders one of his guards to strike him on the head with his rod. That’s what she said. She being Allah, peace and blessings be upon his name. Unfortunately, as the guard keeps increasing the strength of his swats, Nimrod’s head gets cracked open, and as he dies, the mosquito is freed and enters the world to pursue a life twattery. Since that fateful day, mankind has been in constant battle against these wingèd foes.

Starting with the erratically swinging hand, which adapted into the fly swatter, and then bug spray with the development of poison, we have now come to a breakthrough in the fight against mosquitoes.

According to Reuters, Researchers from Imperial College London have genetically modified male mosquitoes, rendering them completely incapable of producing sperm. What they’re doing, in a nutshell, is injecting normal mosquito eggs with a protein that hinders the development of testes and makes sperm production impossible when the insects reach adulthood. The protein effectively silences a gene called ZPG, or as I like to call it zippage. Anyway, this gene is critical to developing healthy sperm cells. It is not however, critical to the male mosquitoes’ competitiveness when it comes to mating, nor is it a turn off to their female counterparts; the females are completely unaware of their lovers’ sackless state. Because the eunuch bugs have the façade of bulging balls, female mosquitoes will still mate with them, and then reproduce unfertilized eggs.

For right now the study is just a theory, but a rather promising one. Flaminia Catteruccia led the study in Imperial’s life sciences department while also maintaining her side job as a third rate bowl of pasta. She said “In the fight against disease, many hope that the ability to genetically control the mosquito vector will one day be a key part of our armory.” And they have reason to hope, if this experiment were enacted on a mass scale, it would drastically cut the mosquito population. This is awesome for many reasons. Less mosquitoes means less bumps on all of your sweet and salty skin, less waving your hands around in the air like a jackass, and perhaps most importantly: less Malaria.

This is good. It’s long been the consensus among experts that, “Malaria blows.” Its symptoms are debilitating, including fever, shivering, joint pain, vomiting, anemia, hemoglobinuria, retinal damage, and convulsions. It’s like Jersey Shore without the brain damage. Every two to three days depending upon your infection, victims suffer from acute coldness, followed by rigor, and then fever and sweating for four to six hours: an orgy of pain.
America, Canada, and nearly all of Western Europe are Malaria-free. Globally though, the disease infects 225 million people annually, and according to the World Health Organization, kills upwards of 800,000 people. Ninety percent of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, primarily amongst children. In fact, a child dies of Malaria in Africa every 45 seconds.

Right now it’s just a study, but if actualized it means that human lives will be saved, and the quality of life in developing countries will increase if only slightly. To be sure, the human life is a precious thing with infinite potential, and saving one is a beautiful act. I respect that, but I do not allow it to limit the scope of my perspective.

When looking at the deaths that will be prevented by this research it is comforting because we think of the individual victims, and to a certain degree in our developed nation we feel guilt over our relatively gluttonous lifestyles compared to the citizens of Africa who live in extreme poverty. But you must look past the quality of human life and look at the sheer quantity of human life as it stands today. The World Health Organization did say that 800,000 people die annually from Malaria, but it is also true that the current world population is 6, 983, 272, 305 as of this writing, and a couple hundred thousand more as I read it to you all now. Now compare that to the roughly one quadrillion mosquitoes on Earth. If they were the size of humans we’d most certainly be saying Get. The Fuck. Out of Here.

Now, of these nearly 7 billion human beings, the United Nations estimates that 850 million are malnourished or starving, and that 1.1 billion do not have access to safe drinking water. It is simultaneously true that more than a billion humans are considered overweight worldwide. Nimrod feasted on grapes as he over saw slaves building the Tower of Babel, so I’m sure he would approve. OH WAIT. HE CAN’T, BECAUSE HE’S DEAD. As we sit here in this bar, sure it is comfortable and we are all managing to be alive, but only at the cost of another person’s misery.

Look at our species as mere digits, symbols of consumption. As our population stands today, we are approaching a point of no return when it comes to resource availability. There are many statistics used to illustrate this fact, but I’ll share my favorite, “if China and India were to consume as much resources per capita as the United States or Japan in 2030, together they would require a full planet Earth to meet their needs.” We are buzzing, and biting, and the Earth is about to say Get. The fuck. Out. Of. Here.
The Earth is in a state of overpopulation and this must be cured if the human species is to continue in the long term. Which means population control. It’s not cold. It’s not inhumane. The entire goal in mind when considering the decrease in humans is the preservation of humans. It’s not as if anyone is suggesting something like using a powerful insecticide to spray on the hippies and gypsies. Nor something more realistic and less fun, like a birth license one earns through an IQ test, as the alleged World’s Smartest Man Christopher Langan has suggested. I recognize that a more sensitive, long-term approach must be taken. The clearest path to take it seems is education for women and economic empowerment. With the knowledge of birth control, family planning, and the ability to join the work force in non-domestic roles, women tend to have fewer children. This effect would take generations to cut our population, but it would be long lasting and allow for a greater equality and quality of life. It is easy to laud ourselves as powerful beings and face our problems like Nimrod, swinging a stick in ignorant rage. But what I’m suggesting instead is to recognize that we are the mosquito. And we need to figure out what to do before the planet stabs us in the junk.