If you don’t believe in ghosts, then you must start believing in at least one from now—the environmental ghost! This ghost is born out of a single parent i.e. climate change. This is of recent origin, and you know what the best part is? Every single one of us has contributed to its birth in one way or the other! Also, it is not just restricted to our country but exists worldwide! Guys, this is not superficial or hypothetical but real and can be felt and sensed everywhere, and its impact can be witnessed in each and every sector.
Recently, We have come to know of its most recent invasion—its effect on sperm! Yes, sperm! Can you believe its omnipresence? It’s unfortunate that whenever we talk about the gendered impact of climate change, we tend to overlook the nuances of how it would affect men.
Male infertility can be caused due to various factors like genes, extended exposure to industrial chemicals, radiation, etc. But have you ever heard of male infertility due to climate change?
A recent study published in Nature Communications titled “Experimental Heatwaves Compromise Sperm Function And Cause Transgenerational Damage In A Model Insect”, which was conducted on beetles, revealed that climate change, and to be more specific the rise in temperature, causes male infertility. It decreased their sperm count, its life span, quality, and also viability. Not only that, but it also revealed that as a result of it, offsprings born from them were also adversely affected. And prolonged exposure to heatwaves even leads to sterility!
Though this study was conducted on cold-blooded animals, it hinted that it can be applied to warm-blooded animals too. In addition to this, A conference paper presented by B.P. Setchell titled “The Effects Of Heat On The Testes Of Mammals” revealed that male infertility happens during heat stress in warm-blooded animals also, which includes human beings! Not only that, a recent review of more than 100 studies by Mark C. Urban found that 8-50% of all species will be threatened by climate change as a result.
It is so unfortunate that not only them but their children will unnecessarily suffer because of us. We won’t get the best quality of future generations! This is not good for a country keeping in mind the Human Development Index (HDI) competition at the global level, and various other factors.
Now, let’s dive deeper into this: we may even experience mass extinction in the future! Obviously, if sperm is non-functional how can we expect the continuance or origins of our species?
We all know that our society overrates sperm. If a man faces sexual problems, he is humiliated and stigmatised like he has committed a crime! Even his family members torture him by saying, “Khandaan ka naam duba diya”! (You have dishonoured the family name). Men suffer so much, and if because of our deeds (climate change) they are suffering then we should feel ashamed of ourselves! We have no right to snatch the happiness of anyone.
Not only this but low sperm count also causes a decrease in facial and body hair, do you even realise how painful it would be for a boy when people call him “chikne” or “yeh toh bada meetha hai” or “tu mard nahi hai” (You’re not a man) and what not! Who will take responsibility for their mental health?
Remember, both sperm and womb are equally important. Just like both seed (sperm) and land (womb) are equally required to plant a tree. Though, this is not the case in Asexual Reproduction and Parthenogenesis (where fertilisation by sperm is not required and egg can develop into an embryo by itself). But, this happens with simple life forms and higher life forms observe sexual reproduction. And for us, both simple as well as higher life forms are equally important. And if you think we have modern techniques like sperm donation, IVF, etc., then how can you tell if you would get quality sperm in the future too? What’s the guarantee that sperm donors will have healthy sperm? Climate change will affect everyone and not a select few, isn’t it!
Think about the seriousness of this matter. If not about the world, think about yourself! But please, for god’s sake start caring for the environment, our burden must not shift towards others. We don’t want mass extinction, infertility, sub-standard progenies and a complete stoppage to life forms!
Nobody is expecting you to jump into activism but everyone, including the flora and fauna around us, are expecting us to show compassion towards the environment and start taking small steps. Come on guys, switching off lights or fans or not using air conditioners unnecessarily or planting trees or not wasting water, etc., are not that hard! Together we can make a huge difference.
To all the neglected, backward, marginalised communities and sections of the society, including women, I just want to say that it is a great opportunity to show your worth to the world, especially those who think only men are worthy. Start acting against climate change and make people realise that even you can contribute a lot to society and if you won’t then it will be dangerous for everyone.