Why do we insist on abusing the earth we live on? asks Paul Vallely
From The Universe dated August 6, 1995:
The semen of British men, if you will pardon the bluntness, is
apparently far less fertile today than in previous eras.
Scientists were last night pressing the Government to do something
I should not mock. They think there is an increase in testicular
cancer in men and breast cancer in women as well as a deterioration in
the quality of the sperm.
Now I don't want to seem to minimise the suffering of some poor soul
with cancer or the sadness of couples who can't have children but there
seems to me to be a weary parable for our times in the whole thing.
First, it shows the more we know the less we know. Scientists are
blaming everything from tight underpants to changes in lifestyle.
But the prime suspect seems to be environmental oestrogens. These are
chemicals which imitate female hormones. Apparently they are found
naturally in some foods.
But since the '40's we have boosted the number around by giving
hormones to cows to boost dairy production.
They are also in exhaust fumes, pesticides, the contraceptive pill
and the plastic cling films we use to wrap our sandwiches. They linger
in the body up to 1,000 times longer than natural hormones.
And sadly, none of this is surprising.
We know human genes have already been introduced to some sheep so
they will express certain chemicals in their milk.
We know chicken genes have been built into tomatoes to enhance
flavour and increase shelf-life.
There is an awful sense of inevitability about the downside of our
modern attitudes to the way we treat our planet.
I'm not being critical of advances in science. But I do question the
use to which some of them are put.
Today the billion people who live in the West use 60 times more of
the world's resources than is available to the other 80 per cent of
The rest are so poor that every hour 5,732 children die from
worsening poverty just so they can repay their 'debts' to us.
Meanwhile, in the West, we can never have enough. We are constantly
pushing against the capacity of the planet with the increasingly toxic
pollution of our clever science.
Call it God. Call it Nature.
But some sense of inherent balance is being violated.
With things like falling sperm count it seems that the planet is
fighting back against the voracious demands of the so-called
civilisation of the western world.
Perhaps we are being told that the world would be a better place
Reproduced with thanks
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