A few billion years from now, the Sun will continue in its life cycle, become an expanding red giant, and most likely envelop the Earth. This spectacular solar smack-down should be no problem for humanity, however. We’ll have already met our demise, most likely via omnicide.
Sound grim? Check out Mary Shelley’s The Last Man, a dystopian novel of war and pandemic chronicling the end of humanity. Or if you are after more recent fare, try P. D. James’ novel The Children of Men, wherein mankind is on the brink of extinction from—drum roll—infertility.
Leaving fiction behind, let us consider Dr. Shanna Swan’s Countdown: How Our Modern World Is Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, Threatening Sperm Counts, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race. This book is also dystopian in spades, though in a matter-of-fact scientific fashion which makes a most compelling case about the probability of humanity’s demise.
Some of Dr. Swan’s astonishing findings include:
In the last 40 years, sperm counts in Western countries declined 59 percent.
The quality of sperm has also significantly declined, carrying higher levels of damaged DNA than previously seen.
More than 25 percent of men with erectile dysfunction are under the age of 40.
Since 1982, testosterone levels have dropped 1 percent per year.
An expectant mother’s smoking while pregnant causes a huge decrease in the sperm count of her son when he reaches adulthood.
Following current projections, sperm counts are set to reach zero in 2045.
Miscarriages have risen 1 percent each year for the last two decades.
Needless to say, all this is a huge impediment to having children.
If your dystopian fix is still not sated, maybe Swan’s explanations will do the trick. She says it’s chemicals that are killing us – in particular, “endocrine-disrupting chemicals.” The most problematic of these are:
1) Phthalates, added to plastics to increase flexibility and longevity, which are known to decrease sperm counts and testosterone levels in men. For women, phthalates contribute to ovarian cysts, disrupted menstrual cycles, and early menopause.
2) Bisphenol A, found in plastic bottles and commercial canning, interferes with conception and causes early miscarriages. Bisphenol A is found in flame retardants, electronics, hard plastics, food packaging, cosmetics, personal care items, and much more.
These poisons leach into the contents of containers, which are then consumed, allowing the chemicals to interfere with the body’s natural hormonal functioning. Those hormones most essential to baby-making, testosterone and estrogen, are interfered with the most. Then we have what Swan calls “collateral damage” from stress, poor diets, and daily exposure to environmental or occupational toxins. Her solution is for people to eliminate those chemicals from their households, and also advocates outlawing these toxic chemicals, a process which is already underway in Europe.
But these chemicals are not the only causes of declining fertility. Back in 2008, the Center for Reproductive Medicine warned that cell phone studies showed that “…radiofrequency electromagnetic waves emitted from cell phones can impair sperm quality” and that “Semen exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic waves emitted from cell phones had higher levels of damaging free radicals, lower sperm motility (the ability of the sperm to move and swim) and sperm viability (the percentage of live sperm), and possibly greater oxidative stress.” The Center also said, "Our findings appear to be in line with other concerns that environmental factors such as toxins, pollutants, and materials used in farming play a role in male infertility.”
As for this high-tech hijacking of fertility, cui bono? Who invents, manufactures and markets these killer chemicals? The answer is, of course, we do. Homo sapiens is choosing technological “progress” even over its own continued existence.
To quote Swan: “The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival.”
Countdown has received a smattering of attention from the legacy media, but so far the story has no real legs. The lack of any widespread outrage and alarm at these findings is conclusive proof that the chattering classes are tone deaf to critical civilizational challenges. Moreover, all of us are so addicted to technological gadgets and immediate gratification that we dare not challenge “progress” in any meaningful way.
As Swan says, chemicals are making it biologically more difficult to have children, but this also comes at a time when many in the industrialized world are childless by choice. Reasons vary, but they are often grounded in consumerism. Children would “get in the way” of many couples’ careers and carefree lifestyles. Many insist they cannot afford children, putting the very meaning of family up for debate as a secular social gospel displaces traditional Christianity. Others proclaim that childlessness is the most environmentally conscious course of action, warning of the “carbon footprint” of each human being.
While such priorities may satisfy ideology, individual freedom, personal choice, and career advancement, opting not to reproduce is a Faustian bargain. Doing so endangers the species. From 1964 to 2018 global fertility rates plunged from 5.06 children per woman to just 2.4. While this plunge can be seen worldwide, it is most dire in the West and in East Asia, i.e. the first world. Most advanced societies are aging and becoming less dynamic. Economic stagnation is only an early indicator of the troubles ahead. Just look at Japan.
The modern world is on the path to infertility and extinction. Mankind is on its way out, disappearing by our own hand. We’ll have to leave it to historians of other species to chronicle our omnicide, or at the very least, remember us. Maybe the canines will do so fondly.
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