Egg bank:
I sometimes wonder whether it wouldn’t be a good idea to beef up the world’s sperm banks to an enormous degree.  If, as seems to be the case, fertility of the population declines faster than the fertility of a man, then a very old man might be the only fertile male on offer.  This must have happened many times during the life of our species.  This leads into speculating about how much evolution has tweaked women, their bodies and minds, to be up to attracting an elderly male, perhaps not in the most torrid age.  However the deductions seem utterly mad to me at present, so I shall defer that until age has softened my brain a bit more.

But it is not necessary to go through with such an awkward match.  If the man has his sperm frozen when he is in his prime, those will be available for use in artificial insemination without the esthetic compromises of a courtship. 

It never occurred to me that one might be able to bank eggs.  Were egg banks cheap and dependable, there might be light under the pall of darkness we inhabit.  Well it turns out that it is, yes, possible to bank eggs.  (Growth of Egg Freezing Blurs “Experimental” Label Alison Motluk NATURE vol. 476 no. 7361 August 25, 2011 page 382)  But it is neither cheap nor reliable.  In fact it is so bad the process is still experimental.  That has not prevented women from banking eggs so as to be able to have children after they have secured their careers.  In fact there is enough of this so that – as the title of the article suggests – it is hard to say whether this is experiment or simply forlorn treatment. 

If they do enough of it, maybe they will get good at it.  So one day we might, just might, have massive sperm banks AND massive egg banks, and although the legalities and ethics would be most difficult, at least there might be something to work with once fertility falls through the floor. 

No, it doesn’t sound very romantic, I know.  And the spirit of the time is certainly against the idea of keeping things of value.  Budget cuts are pushing museums into unhappy choices. (William A Lovis Museums and Archives in Peril SCIENCE vol. 333 no. 6045 August 19, 2011)  I stand aghast.  The museum is not only an educational and research institution, not only a cultural icon; it is the very memory of the culture.  I used to think that once something was in a museum that it was essentially immortal, there to be seen and studied for all time.  But years of unhappy revelations have informed me that the very curators often betray their trust.  No curator wants simply to preserve some brilliant piece of work done by an earlier worker.  Like the CEO’s of big companies, each wants to put his own pet projects out there.  (Although I am not aware that the pay is as good.) 

And now government support is being cut.  If our population perishes but some other population survives, our museums may be the most valuable things we shall have to pass along. 

I suppose it is understandable.  Archiving digital information seem to be so incredibly cheap that archiving and preserving other things seem extravagant. 

So I doubt the egg banks will materialize.  We just do not have such a mind set.

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