Wednesday, August 07, 2013


“Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice…”thus begins what is probably Robert Frost’s most memorable poem entitled Fire and Ice.  What makes a poem memorable?  When it speaks a truth.  The poem continues…
“From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice is also great
And would suffice”.
This may seem an odd way to start an article about the plunging of human sperm count, but I see Robert Frost’s poem as extremely apropos.  Fire?  Desire?  The greedy, desirous people of the 1% are plunging all of us and the world into a fire pit.  I see Frost’s poem as both allegorical and literal.  In truth, we seem to be descending into a fire pit of global warming that includes increased potable water shortages along with carbon and methane gas emissions.  Deforestation, desertification in some parts of the world, increased flooding in others as the oceans rise and round out the picture.  But ice?
What is Robert Frost talking about when he says that ice would suffice?  After all, our problem is melting ice caps.  Not enough ice.  But again, Robert Frost’s poem is allegorical. I think he is talking about the icy indifference on the part of governments and institutions of the 1% in how they consider the lives of ordinary humans, then and now.  Now is worse.  So many industrial and chemical poisons have been spewed into the world in order to allow a few humans to wallow in wealth that the many are in the process of losing everything, including the ability to reproduce.
Don’t get me wrong.  I am a feminist and pro-choice.  I am also the mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of males. And I worry about the falling sperm count.  Why, you may ask?  The world is over populated as it is.  However, it has been almost twenty years since a Danish scientist named Niels Skakkeback (U. of Copenhagen) at a WHO conference announced to the world that human sperm counts had fallen by half over the span of fifty years.  Other scientists found the same sperm decline for the last fifty years.  On top of these statistics, a recent French study has found there has been “a significant and continuous 32.2 per cent decrease in sperm concentration over 17 years” ( 7/31/2013).  Are the results of this study of the last 17 years added to the 50 per cent drop they must have started with?  Which would represent a 32.2 per cent drop added to the 50 per cent which would result in 82.2 per cent drop in sperm count altogether?  They don’t say.  But this seems too enormous of a drop to be true.  But maybe not.
In the book Our Stolen Future (Colborn, Dumanoski, Myers, 1996) the authors tell us that there are many endocrine-disrupting chemicals in public use that could also affect sperm count.  On page 120-121 we learn that “Humans, by comparison (to other animals) are inefficient breeders, who tend to produce barely the number of sperm required for successful fertilization.  Moore (Robert Moore,  toxicologist, US Environmental Toxicology Center) describes the human male sperm count as “borderline pathological” for many individuals even without the assault of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. If Moore is correct and if long term decline in human sperm count continues, our species faces a troubling prospect.  Such a drop could have a devastating impact on human fertility”.
This is already happening.  Decreases in many western countries’ populations are beginning to worry their heads of state.  It is the duty of capitalist governments to see that corporations continue to grow fat on low wage workers; that there are enough tax payers to keep things going without unduly bothering the 1% for anything like tax money on their investments, or clean up money if their investments leak or explode, and who understand they will always be given the helping hand of their fawning governments. And, of course, heads of state have to keep enough soldiers to be sent to countries to face the fire of people who hate them before they even get there, and the ice of federal indifference if they return.  Still, most industrial nations are getting at least somewhat worried about population decline.
The US, Canada, Japan, and most of Europe are showing population declines.  According to those who know, or think they know , or are supposed to know, this decline can be attributed to many things such as the recession that worries young people and causes them to postpone marriage and/or starting a family.  Some countries in population decline are discussing giving bonuses of sorts, or premiums for child care and the like, in an effort to assist women in making the decision to have more babies.
 Other countries, like the US, are taking the old road traveled; simply restrict abortion and even birth control and force women to have more babies.  Several US states have already made it practically impossible for women to have abortions while Viagra, but not birth control for women, are included in many health plans. This will insure that women are urged (or forced) to have sex more frequently, with fewer protections or resources. But forcing or inducing women to have more babies  may be much more difficult than even Nazi type heads of state imagine if the drop in population is caused by, or even affected by, a corresponding  drop in sperm count, regardless of the cause of the drop.
I think the decline in teen age pregnancies is the flag signaling that the decline in population in general is being driven, at least in part, by environmental poisoning.  What the sperm count studies have shown is that a young man today has a much lower sperm count than his grandfather had.  It is the young men of the industrial world that have lost much of their sperm count and sperm volume.  The rate by which sperm count is dropping is 2% a year; in Europe it is estimated to be 3%.  
I find it telling that the teen age pregnancy rate in the US has dropped 25% between 2007 and 2011.  Most of the credit for this has been claimed by operators of programs specifically designed for teen agers to lower the rates of teen pregnancies.  But I wonder.  Valuable as these programs may be, I suspect that young men’s lower sperm counts may have more to do with this dramatic drop in teen pregnancies than a sudden change of sexual behavior on the part of US teens.  Time will tell.  In the meantime it seems we are having both the fire and ice that Frost spoke of…environmental fire and icy government indifference to it all. 
However, there is this possible upside that others speak of…with many fewer babies being born in the future maybe all babies will be cherished and protected, not just the babies of parasitical monarchies and narcissistic celebrities.  With fewer soldiers to fight wars there may be fewer wars.  With fewer thieves, less thievery.  Fewer politicians, priests, police, pimps, porn and prostitution.  Fewer guns for fewer people.  Less drugs, less gangs.  Less depressions.  Less recessions. Dancing in the streets?  Maybe.
See new posting on my tumblr blog:

No comments:

Post a Comment