Ah, Spring, When Last Summer’s Heat Means Fewer Births
By Carmen Fernandez
THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE – “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” says Genesis 1:28. But at an accelerated pace that is diminishing. Almost everywhere north of the equator – in Europe, Africa, Asia and North America – last summer’s record high temperatures are resulting in fewer births today, nine months later. Why? Because heat reduces sperm count and sperm motility (the ability of sperm to move properly toward an egg). As a T-shirt of years ago put it, showing a squirrel looking at acorns, “Global warming is bad for your nuts.”
Is God Keeping Babies from Being Born?
Are fewer births a good thing? Yes, as climate change destroys vast swaths of previously productive agricultural land, billions of people have less to eat and tens of millions starve to death. But at least humanity is not adding the additional more mouths to feed that it would have, had spermatogenic cells and epididymal spermatozoa stayed healthy. Of course, global warming is producing other forms of population control. Only this month, Ebola outbreaks have hit cities as diverse as Barcelona, Teheran, Tokyo, Auckland (New Zealand), Buenos Aires and St. Louis: more instances of deadly tropical disease spreading beyond the tropics. Only last week, rising seas completed the flooding of the industrial and manufacturing facilities of Ho Chi Minh City, causing riots – by the newly unemployed – that were put down only by deadly gunfire from government troops. Only three days ago, superstorm Diablo finally dissipated north of Mexico City, after killing upwards of two thousand.
So, worldwide, some religious figures see reduced sperm count and sperm motility as God’s way of – as pastor Ken Neiderhoffer of the New Glory Tabernacle Church of Los Angeles puts it – “bringing fewer innocents into the world to meet untimely ends.” Rabbi Yonatan Ben-Zvi of Nicosia, Cyprus agrees, saying, “Since the Torah regards companionship as an even greater justification for sexual relations than procreation, there is nothing in Judaism which holds this problem with sperm to be abhorrent in the sight of G-d.” And Imam Shihab of Jakarta, Indonesia says, “If Allah wishes you to have more children you will. If you are having fewer children, that is also because Allah wishes it. Thus it is logical that Allah is causing fewer and less vigorous sperm.”
Or Will Goddesses Cure Infertility?
On the other hand, some psychologists say that, faced with widespread deaths, a human procreation instinct may kick in. Says Professor Kundapur Varun Shenoy of the University of Delhi, “Our subconscious ‘reasons’ that, while we and many of our many children are more likely to die, at least some of our many children will live. I can tell you that street vendors here are doing a booming business in images of Manasa, Parvati and Santoshi – all goddesses that are said to cure infertility. ”
In less than three months, another summer begins in the northern hemisphere. Even higher temperatures are forecast.