Climate Change Could Ruin Your Sex Life, Economists Warn
Climate change threatens so many things Americans love: maple syrup, avocados and lately even pumpkins. Now, climate change is even threatening our ability to reproduce. According to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, warmer weather means less "coital frequency."
As the planet gets warmer, things get harder to enjoy – climb, surf, fly fish, ski...and sex. @eroston explains: https://t.co/5wOvDC018B— Patagonia (@Patagonia)1446573185.0
"Extreme heat leads to a sizable fall in births," the study says. "Temperature extremes could affect coital frequency. It could affect hormone levels and sex drives. Alternatively, high temperatures may adversely affect reproductive health or semen quality on the male side or ovulation on the female side," say the three economists from Tulane University, University of California and University of Central Florida who wrote the paper.
In the paper, Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates, the researchers predict that "increased temperatures due to climate change may reduce population growth rates in the coming century." Looking at 80 years of U.S. fertility and temperature data, they found that "additional days above 80 degrees Fahrenheit cause a large decline in birth rates approximately eight to 10 months later." And these would-be parents often do not "make up for lost time in subsequent, cooler months," reports Bloomberg.
Maybe @SenSanders is right about climate change being the greatest national security threat... https://t.co/pWJ4VNGoWp— Yonah Diamond (@Yonah Diamond)1446646067.0
Though many may welcome decreasing birth rates in an overcrowded planet, the researchers say it will create problems in countries with already low birth rates. "The decline in birth rates is a very serious issue for countries, like the U.S. and the UK, which have below-replacement birth rates," said Alan Barreca, an associate professor at Tulane University and one of the authors. "This will put a lot of strain on social insurance programs, like Social Security, because it will create large imbalances in the make-up of the population."
Researchers say that policymakers should pay attention to three main takeaways from their findings (via Bloomberg):
1. Birth rates do not bounce back completely after heat waves.
That's a problem. As summers heat up, developed countries may see already low birth rates sink even lower. Plunging birth rates can wreak havoc on an economy. China's leaders recently acknowledged this by ditching the longtime one-child policy and doubling the number of children couples are allowed to have. A sub-replacement U.S. birthrate means fewer workers to pay Social Security benefits for retirees, among other consequences.
2. More autumn conceptions means more deliveries in summer.
Infants experience a higher rate of poor health with summer births, "though the reasons for worse health in the summer are not well-established," the authors write. One possibility may be "third-trimester exposure to high temperatures."
3. Air conditioning might prove to be an aphrodisiac.
Control over the climate at home might make a difference. The researchers suggest that the rise of air conditioning may have helped offset some heat-related fertility losses in the U.S. since the 1970s.
GUYS. If this doesn't make #COP21 a success I don't know what will. Climate Change = Less Sex https://t.co/VDBSHY1i6R— Alexandra White (@Alexandra White)1446545854.0
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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