Tuesday, May 09, 2006

vanishing sperm

Liz Mundy at Slate points to a possible reason for declining teen pregnancy rates. Not a greater commitment to abstinence by the kids, or more effective use of contraceptives, but declining sperm counts in Americans. US sperm counts are dropping by 1.5% per year - which is HUGE since it's been going on for decades, and humans (and gorillas) already have relatively low sperm counts compared to other animals. Other countries are seeing sperm counts drop at comparable rates.

The cause? Hormone disrupting chemicals in the environment. Sperm counts among men living in rural areas are dropping quicker than for guys living in the big city, and for men in developed countries compared to those in poor places, pointing to chemicals used in modern agriculture as a likely suspect, although there are plenty of other chemicals that are neutering us and retarding our mental development. There are similar problems with dropping fecundity levels in women.

For a sobering read, try this book: Our Stolen Future, How We Are Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival. It's full of cheerful news about deformation of genitals in human and animal offspring, etc. This could be a big part of the reason for dropping birth rates in Europe, Japan, Korea, and other countries around the world.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jeremy said...

I saw that story as well. I should mention, however, I'm not exactly opposed to a declining birth rate. In fact, I'm not opposed to a SEVERELY declining birth rate.

I think we tend to applaud, and even marvel at women who bare litters of septuplets, etc, where as that kind of thing should be greatly discouraged.

I think it should be ok for people to be single, or kidless, or whatever.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Don Q Blogger said...

Jeremy, I think a smaller human population is a good idea too. But I worry about it being achieved by polluting the entire biosphere!

9:56 PM  
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2:44 PM  

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