The global population of the human species in 1965 was 3.3 billion. Today the estimate is 7.85bn.
The current consensus projection appears to be 9.7bn by 2050 though this could turn out to be an over-estimate as human fertility rates are in decline. Indeed, they are plummeting.
Writing in a new book, Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist and professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, warns that the impending fertility crisis poses a global threat comparable to the climate crisis.
“The current state of reproductive affairs can’t continue much longer without threatening human survival,” she warns in Count Down.
The dire forecast stems from research findings published in 2017 and indicating that sperm counts in the West had plummeted by 59% between 1973 and 2011.
The latest research points to sperm counts hitting zero in 2045, thereafter precipitating a massive population collapse measured in only decades.
That is five years before the bulk of the international community appears pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, thus rendering the ambition a pyrrhic victory.
In the book, Swan and co-author Stacey Colino examine how modern life is to blame for what amounts to a sterility tsunami.
It especially sounds alarm bells regarding lifestyle and chemical exposures that are changing and threatening human sexual development and fertility.
The syndrome was first identified in Man’s least favourite alter ego, the Rat.
Specifically, genitals are malfunctioning due to pollution. And the catalyst singled out is phthalate, a chemical massively used in manufacturing plastics and which impacts our hormone-producing endocrine system.
Phthalate makes plastic more flexible, however, Dr Swan points out that it is now being transmitted into toys and foods which subsequently harms human development.
Such is the gravity of the threats now posed that humans could become an endangered species, she argues. Scaremongering? I think not.
The threats identified in Count Down pose a clear and present danger to us, of that I have no doubt.
It’s rather like the staggering threats now posed by anthropomorphic climate change. The consequences of this will be terrifying, but I instinctively feel that we as a species have grossly underestimated the pace of change that is under way and accelerating.
Anyone remember sandwich boards? You drape them over your shoulders with messages front and back. One of the absolute all-time classics is: “The End is Nigh”.
There is an inevitability about that message but not necessarily for the reasons you or I might imagine.
The UK is hosting COP 26 in Glasgow this year, the latest global attempt to rearrange the deck chairs as the titanic construct called human civilisation gradually sinks into the abyss.
Of course, energy and how we use it will be centre-stage. Big Oil and King Coal will once again be in the dock and Low Carbon Energy will rub its hands with messianic, smirking glee.
There will be much talk about this and that and why supposed solutions like carbon trading are a really great thing.
But will anyone actually get a grip of the grim realities that truly face all of us?
Do they actually understand how woefully equipped we are for pulling back from the brink and building a new world for ourselves?
Do we realise how hopelessly hooked virtually all of us are on High Carbon and why?
It’s not just about heating and lighting or finding fuel substitutes, it’s the river of chemicals from which the many thousands of products we are addicted to are made.
There are zero adequate substitutes for all but a tiny fraction of this staggering petro-products mountain. Growing crops as feedstock for bio-diesel has already proven an unmitigated environmental failure.
Thirteen months ago, and following years of controversy and delay, the European Commission banned the production of biofuels from palm oil, not the verdict producers of the fuel wanted to hear.
Imagine trying to satisfy petro-products demand by switching away from oil and gas to growing crops. The impacts on food production would be staggering.
Also, imagine trying to develop and manufacture renewables technologies at a scale without petrochemicals products like polyethylene terephthalate, which is fast becoming Big Wind’s latest dirty secret following the balsa forests scandal.
It has become extra grubby given the link between phthalates and the sterility pandemic sweeping almost unheeded through the human population. NGOs please note.
Now, the theme of this edition of Energy Voice is financing upstream energy. And, as we are becoming increasingly aware, Big Money is deliberately making borrowing for exploration and production companies more expensive than for supposedly green energy technologies, even though they are purely about power generation, whereas Big Oil is a whole lot more.
There is a staggeringly complex array of challenges ahead of us all and they reach way beyond what any COP conference resolutions can ever begin to deliver.
But do we actually understand this? Do we realise how little time we have? I doubt it.