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posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 28 2017, @03:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the children-of-soy dept.

The BBC reports that sperm quality continues to drop. Specifically, researchers "found a 52.4% decline in sperm concentration, and a 59.3% decline in total sperm count in men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand." While alarmist publications tout this as a 60% drop, the decline is accelerating and the researchers are concerned that inaction may lead to species extinction despite the effect not being observed in regions with high machismo, such as South America, Asia and Africa.

The study "aggregates 185 studies between 1973 and 2011, one of the largest ever undertaken." It supposedly overcomes selection bias occurring from patients attending fertility (virility?) clinics and selection bias of null results not being published in journals (churnals?). My intuition is that insights can be gained from studying transsexualism. Practitioners claim patients increase at the rate of 15% per year (doubling every five years), over many decades and with no end in sight. This is akin to Moore's law, Kryder's law, Butters' law, Hendy's law, Rider's law, Carlson's law or any other exponential halving or doubling. So, it doesn't take a genius to understand that it will become an increasingly widespread issue.

Regardless, masculine medical problems are vastly under-represented. By some estimates, spending on male medical problems is about 1/4 of spending on female medical problems. For example, when a man seeks help for a legitimate medical issue, such as declining testosterone, a patient at the lower end of the "normal" range may be denied treatment even if he is constantly exhausted.

Well, take care of yourself. Eat properly. Drink properly. Rest properly. Stay active. And if healthy food and exercise won't fix accumulated problems, consider hormone replacement. You may also want to watch two films which seem to be mentioned with increasing frequency and seem to predict our era with some accuracy: Children Of Men and Colossus: The Forbin Project. Children Of Men is the second bleakest film I've ever seen and the film I've seen most during its initial cinema release. It explores the scenario of global infertility leading to economic collapse. In addition to a nexus of cast and crew, the seamless plot and astounding compositing, the film is a fantastic example of mise-en-scène which is best explained by example.

Anyhow, enjoy the films and get your medical problems addressed.

Disclosure: People in my family are affected by virility and hormone problems. I have a professional interest in film, media encoding and art education.


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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:27PM (8 children)

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday August 03 2017, @04:27PM (#548412)

    I took Malthus' main point to be that there's a cap on how much population the world can support (and discovery of the "New World" was a big blow to his initial calculations) - I suppose if you want to get to the inevitability of disaster side of things, the lack of effective birth control back then was another major factor.

    As for moving goal posts - when in history have the goal posts not moved? Moving goal posts is at the core of human happiness. I know a (Texan) family with net worth in the hundreds of millions, the stress in their lifestyles is entirely self-imposed. They're not satisfied when they're working, they're not content when they're not working - they have had multiple suicides in the past 20 years, in part due to classic manic-depression, and in part due to the human condition: no matter how good you have it, happiness comes from relative improvement, and unhappiness comes from feelings of helplessness to do what you want to do. Regardless of resources, political power, etc. there are always things that people are unable to achieve.

    I stick by the 100 productive acres thing. If you're choosing to live in the desert, you may need more, but if we reduced the human population to one family - say 3.5 generations of 2 children per couple, so ~7 people, per 100 acres of "good" forest or farmland, we'd have high enough population to maintain academic and technological progress. Some people would stay in cities, but for any that wanted to move out onto the land, there would be plenty of land to move out onto. With continuing progress, we're not far from automated small farms, which - with low population density - would mean freedom to choose whether you wanted to hormone pump your meat animals for the productivity/efficiency increases, or let them grow more naturally, because it's not a resource constrained choice where the natural option just isn't economically feasible. The whole 100 family acres wouldn't need to be put into optimized production just to feed h. sapiens, there would be enough left over for a healthy, relatively un-managed bio-diverse nature.

    Or, we can bio-engineer monoculture crops for maximum productivity, feed them to animals kept at 1000x natural densities, reeking of filth, but productive enough to feed a larger population, etc. etc. etc.

    Either way, the population growth will need to stop and eventually stabilize - and we're not talking cosmic time scales - 2000 years of continued growth at the rate of the last 50 will lead to a completely unsustainable human population by any method except perhaps fusion powered underground farms and continent sized multi-level cities.

    To me, since population stabilization has to happen somewhere, it's a question of what level should it be targeted at, and, clearly, I think we've already passed the ideal level and need to plan for a way to scale back. Quality over quantity. Just because we're going to peak over 10B doesn't mean that we should aim to stabilize there.

    --
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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday August 03 2017, @10:17PM (7 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday August 03 2017, @10:17PM (#548503) Journal

    I took Malthus' main point to be that there's a cap on how much population the world can support (and discovery of the "New World" was a big blow to his initial calculations) - I suppose if you want to get to the inevitability of disaster side of things, the lack of effective birth control back then was another major factor.

    Birth control is another aspect of the emancipation of women that I already described. The key assumption, Malthus had was that exponential population growth was inevitable in the absence of extreme human behavior regulation or constraints of resources. That assumption is broken not by your fertilizer example or by wheat that produces two crops a year (the beginning of the "green revolution"), but by negative population growth in native populations throughout the developed world. The former merely increases the food supply, the latter changes the game in a light weight way.

    As for moving goal posts - when in history have the goal posts not moved? Moving goal posts is at the core of human happiness. I know a (Texan) family with net worth in the hundreds of millions, the stress in their lifestyles is entirely self-imposed. They're not satisfied when they're working, they're not content when they're not working - they have had multiple suicides in the past 20 years, in part due to classic manic-depression, and in part due to the human condition: no matter how good you have it, happiness comes from relative improvement, and unhappiness comes from feelings of helplessness to do what you want to do. Regardless of resources, political power, etc. there are always things that people are unable to achieve.

    Which is why development is not described in terms of happiness.

    2000 years of continued growth at the rate of the last 50 will lead to a completely unsustainable human population by any method except perhaps fusion powered underground farms and continent sized multi-level cities

    Which is increasingly irrelevant because population growth has greatly declined universally over the past 50 years.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday August 04 2017, @12:59AM (6 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday August 04 2017, @12:59AM (#548536)

      I'm sorry, what statistics have you been reading that say that population growth has been slowing? Not slowing in some think-tank future, but actually slowing? The rate of growth increase may be tapering slightly today, but growth itself marches on.

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Human_population_growth_from_1800_to_2000.png [wikimedia.org]

      I'm not talking about "in Russia," or "in the USA and Europe without considering immigration," I'm talking about world population, because that's what's going to drive cell-phone and T-shirt sales, need for food, wood for fires http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/ [who.int] , eventual desire for hamburgers, etc. And until ALL the world's people come up to food/shelter/economic security AND make some other gains, the population isn't going to stop, or even appreciably slow growing. The happy medium and low graphs shown here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population [wikipedia.org] have been predicted for decades, but as the decades roll by, total world population has continued to follow the high predictions. Scroll on down to the World population milestones in billions chart - we're still at 12 years between each additional billion in population, that number has never slowed down, the slowings on the chart are future predictions. Maybe you might argue that our % annual increase is slowing because the population has grown so large, as long as we're adding another billion people every 12 years or less, I don't call that slowing at all. 1200 years of that and we've got 107 billion people on the planet - I have a hard time believing that we'll manage that kind of number with (pleasant, desirable) technological breakthroughs - that course seems destined for some measure of control by disease, famine, lack of fresh water, and straight up lebensraum, all of which lead to wars when they strike populations that control an army of any size.

      --
      Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday August 04 2017, @03:46AM (5 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 04 2017, @03:46AM (#548601) Journal

        I'm sorry, what statistics have you been reading that say that population growth has been slowing? Not slowing in some think-tank future, but actually slowing? The rate of growth increase may be tapering slightly today, but growth itself marches on.

        https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Human_population_growth_from_1800_to_2000.png [wikimedia.org] [wikimedia.org]

        I'll note that the graph you linked to shows the slowing of the growth rate.

        I'm not talking about "in Russia," or "in the USA and Europe without considering immigration," I'm talking about world population, because that's what's going to drive cell-phone and T-shirt sales, need for food, wood for fires http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/ [who.int] [who.int] , eventual desire for hamburgers, etc. And until ALL the world's people come up to food/shelter/economic security AND make some other gains, the population isn't going to stop, or even appreciably slow growing.

        That was my thinking as well.

        we're still at 12 years between each additional billion in population, that number has never slowed down, the slowings on the chart are future predictions. Maybe you might argue that our % annual increase is slowing because the population has grown so large, as long as we're adding another billion people every 12 years or less, I don't call that slowing at all.

        I do call that slowing because it is. Population growth is exponential. A linear rate like that actually indicates a substantial decline in population growth rate.

        1200 years of that and we've got 107 billion people on the planet

        Only if humanity continues to have positive population growth. The above substantial decline in global population growth rate combined with both the developed world populations (excluding immigrants) having negative population growth rate and the rest of the world progressing to developed world status, indicates we aren't going that way.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday August 04 2017, @01:21PM (4 children)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday August 04 2017, @01:21PM (#548710)

          I still call 7B too high, too stressful on the ecosystem, and until we actually start a decline, not just predict one 20 years from now (now being another moving goal post), it's still growth, even if we're "beating" the exponential trend, the natural systems that were in place for millions of years before us managed to reach an approximate equilibrium long enough to make a home for us, not by slowing growth from exponential to linear, but by finding actual equilibrium, with many many examples of not so great things happening when they didn't.

          Stress on the ecosystem is a complicated combination of technology, lifestyle and sheer population numbers. I won't pretend to predict how that plays out even 10 years from now for technology or lifestyle. Historically, advances in technology and lifestyle have made the eco-stress-per-capita worse, not better. It hasn't been until the last decade or so that technological advances have really started (on a global scale) to hint at a true reduction in eco-stress-per-capita. Then, your (valid) argument that advances in lifestyle will bring down population growth numbers would seem to be balanced, or even outstripped by historical trends of eco-stress-per-capita as standards of living increase. Technology may, or may not, help to alleviate that any time soon - it's still far more chaotic than the observed trend in birth rate reductions correlating with lower economic stress. All this adds up, for me, to a population that won't peak under, or even near 10B, and will likely be stressing the ecosystem more like 15-20B+ people living today would.

          The current mass extinction event isn't something that can be shrugged off, and it is still accelerating. Until humanity gets a handle on that, I'd say the population is still too high.

          --
          Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday August 04 2017, @04:23PM (3 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday August 04 2017, @04:23PM (#548779) Journal

            I still call 7B too high, too stressful on the ecosystem, and until we actually start a decline, not just predict one 20 years from now (now being another moving goal post), it's still growth, even if we're "beating" the exponential trend, the natural systems that were in place for millions of years before us managed to reach an approximate equilibrium long enough to make a home for us, not by slowing growth from exponential to linear, but by finding actual equilibrium, with many many examples of not so great things happening when they didn't.

            Nobody is predicting a population decline 20 years from now. That would happen somewhere in the 2050-2100 time frame. And we don't have a means in the near future to change that without killing people.

            Stress on the ecosystem is a complicated combination of technology, lifestyle and sheer population numbers.

            So what? Most of us realize that ecosystems will continue to be stressed for some time to come.

            Then, your (valid) argument that advances in lifestyle will bring down population growth numbers would seem to be balanced, or even outstripped by historical trends of eco-stress-per-capita as standards of living increase.

            I strongly disagree. The developed world countries without exception has far lower pollution per capita than the developing world. That combined with the low fertility and the setting aside of wild spaces, means that advances in lifestyle have already reduced the stress on the ecosystem.

            All this adds up, for me, to a population that won't peak under, or even near 10B, and will likely be stressing the ecosystem more like 15-20B+ people living today would.

            We will see what happens. I think it will be educational for you, should you choose to pay attention.

            The current mass extinction event isn't something that can be shrugged off, and it is still accelerating. Until humanity gets a handle on that, I'd say the population is still too high.

            With most of the large animal extinctions happening 10k years ago, let us note. And I'm not going to collectively take blame for conditions beyond my control, such as the overpopulation issue in Africa and Asia.

            • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Friday August 04 2017, @11:18PM (2 children)

              by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday August 04 2017, @11:18PM (#548916)

              Most of us realize that ecosystems will continue to be stressed for some time to come.

              What most of us don't realize is what the long term impact of that stress will be. It's not just about the dodo bird and carrier pigeon, it's about a crash in bio-diversity and the instability and vulnerability to plagues that brings.

              the setting aside of wild spaces

              is indeed a noble pursuit, but is progressing far too slowly to head off major extinction problems. I think this guy: https://eowilsonfoundation.org/half-earth-our-planet-s-fight-for-life/ [eowilsonfoundation.org] is beating the right drum, but not enough people who matter are listening.

              The developed world countries without exception has far lower pollution per capita than the developing world.

              All depends on what pollution you are looking at. From the polar bears' perspective, you're all wet.

              We will see what happens. I think it will be educational for you, should you choose to pay attention.

              Your confidence in your crystal ball will be your undoing.

              And I'm not going to collectively take blame for conditions beyond my control, such as the overpopulation issue in Africa and Asia.

              Blame is not at issue, viable solutions for the whole planet are. Ignoring what is going on in Asia is even more dangerous than ignoring an approaching asteroid on a collision course, and we certainly wouldn't be "to blame" for that event, either.

              --
              Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday August 05 2017, @12:30AM (1 child)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday August 05 2017, @12:30AM (#548942) Journal

                What most of us don't realize is what the long term impact of that stress will be. It's not just about the dodo bird and carrier pigeon, it's about a crash in bio-diversity and the instability and vulnerability to plagues that brings.

                Remember me talking about Pascal's wager? I already noted several actions that supposedly reduced the stress, but probably had the opposite effect.

                All depends on what pollution you are looking at. From the polar bears' perspective, you're all wet.

                Since the global warming myths are about polar bears drowning, I'd have to say they apparently are the ones who are all wet.

                We will see what happens. I think it will be educational for you, should you choose to pay attention.

                Your confidence in your crystal ball will be your undoing.

                I don't make predictions willy nilly nor do I expect them to be perfectly accurate. It is remarkable how dismissive people are of modern civilization despite several centuries of remarkable progress which, due to modern globalization, has now been experienced by everyone except the completely isolated. Even the poorest have better access to knowledge, health care, wealth opportunities, and technology that their forebears. And the worst problems, overpopulation, habitat and arable land destruction, societal corruption, etc has been significantly addressed by our best societies.

                Blame is not at issue, viable solutions for the whole planet are. Ignoring what is going on in Asia is even more dangerous than ignoring an approaching asteroid on a collision course, and we certainly wouldn't be "to blame" for that event, either.

                Immediate population reduction is not viable. Making the world so free and wealthy that it naturally has a negative population growth rate is viable.

                • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Saturday August 05 2017, @04:23AM

                  by JoeMerchant (3937) on Saturday August 05 2017, @04:23AM (#549005)

                  It is remarkable how dismissive people are of modern civilization despite several centuries of remarkable progress

                  The really remarkable progress seems to have come in the last 100 years, fueled by non-renewable resources. It will be remarkable how unpleasant the end of cheap energy will be.

                  And the worst problems, overpopulation, habitat and arable land destruction, societal corruption, etc has been significantly addressed by our best societies.

                  Too slowly to save the Titanic from a fatal gash in the hull.

                  Making the world so free and wealthy that it naturally has a negative population growth rate is viable.

                  Keep wishing, I hope I'm wrong and you're right - I see no evidence in the historical record, even up through yesterday, only rosy predictions from people with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.

                  --
                  Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428