I know: melting polar ice? Global warming. Increasing polar ice? Global warming. Declining polar bear population? Global warming. Increasing polar bear population? Global warming. Fewer crops? Global warming. More crops? Global warming? Night? Global warming. Day? Global warming. Men? Global warming. Women? Global warming. Cats? global warming. Dogs? Global warming…
But this? From Bloomberg Business:
Climate change has been blamed for many things over the years. Never, until now, has anyone thought it was possible to see it as a kind of contraceptive.
Hot weather leads to diminished ‘coital frequency,’ according to a new working paper put out by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Three economists studied 80 years of U.S. fertility and temperature data and found that when it’s hotter than 80 degrees F, a large decline in births follows within 10 months. Would-be parents tend not to make up for lost time in subsequent, cooler months.
An extra ‘hot day’ (the economists use quotation marks with the phrase) leads to a 0.4 percent drop in birth rates nine months later, or 1,165 fewer deliveries across the U.S. A rebound in subsequent months makes up just 32 percent of the gap.
Wow. Who coulda thunk it? Just for the sake of throwing a monkey wrench into the pseudo-scientific gears here, is it just marginally possible the researchers didn’t account for other factors that might arguably have a more pronounced effect on birthrates? Perhaps things like the economy, the cost of medical care, changing cultural values, a rapidly aging population and related demographic issues?
Having lived in Texas for nearly two decades now, I can testify that most of the year is over 80°, yet Texans seem to be doing reasonably well with “coital frequency.” Maybe this is a “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” sort of thing: if Texans don’t know they’re supposed to have less sex when it’s over 80°, does anyone hear it?…or something like that…
This actually encourages me to think back fondly on my high school days in South Dakota, where it was often cold, very cold. My “coital frequency” was absolutely unaffected by the ambient temperature, though there were more opportunities during the summer, even when it was over 80°, and air conditioning was far more rare in those hazy, golden days. Actually, the factor that had the most serious effect on my coital frequency was my relative lack of understanding of female psychology. Oh, I liked them very much indeed, but I was pretty much a standard, goofy high school kid. Hmm. Maybe I’m on to something here. Could that be more of a factor than temperature for teenagers?
The researchers, who hail from Tulane University, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Central Florida, believe that their findings give policymakers three major things to think about.
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 play havoc with 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.
Uh, unless I’m badly misinformed, China’s decision to allow people to have two children had nothing whatever to do with climate change, and everything to do with population imbalance and a rapidly aging population. One can’t have a red horde of ravening, mindless, AK-47 wielding communist automatons if they’re all 65 and older. And here we also confuse cause and effect. Social Security is insolvent because the baby boom generation is turning 65, not because people aren’t having kiddies because it’s hot outside. SS insolvency also has quite a few other causes, none of which have to do with global warming, which hasn’t been occurring for nearly two decades. You know, the whole “hide the decline” business?
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.
Oh. Well if we don’t really know why there might be “a higher rate of poor health with summer births,” the obvious solution is to engage in mindless speculation with a highly unlikely cause. Another possibility may be invisible zongo rays from the evil planet Pelosi in the Obama Nebula.
Seriously, though, “worse health in the summer?” Where? The North? The South? America? The World? How much worse? Worse than what? And just for the sake of argument—I’m just that kind of guy—wouldn’t such things be different—very different—in America and third world nations?
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.
All things considered, I’d probably rather work on my “coital frequency” rate in air conditioned comfort, but as I recall, in pursuing that sort of “research,” one tends to get a bit hot, bothered, and sweaty. At least I do. Am I abnormal, or is this yet another indicator of climate denial? If increased heat were such a weenie wilter, wouldn’t that fact alone tend to reduce coital frequency? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard guys say: “you get hot and sweaty when you have sex?! Really?! Well, none of that sex stuff for me!” I really can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.
The researchers assume that climate change will proceed according to the most severe scenarios, with no substantial efforts to reduce emissions. The scenario they use projects that from 2070 to 2099, the U.S. may have 64 more days above 80F than in the baseline period from 1990 to 2002, which had 31. The result? The U.S. may see a 2.6 percent decline in its birth rate, or 107,000 fewer deliveries a year.
Uh, aren’t these the same kinds of researchers who, not terribly long ago, predicted we’d all be under hundreds of feet of snow and ice by now? Didn’t they predict the population would explode and everyone would starve to death? Aren’t these the same people whose computer climate models—what we layman might call “wild ass guesses” have universally failed to jibe with reality? I believe they are, so why should we believe this bit of lunacy?
I think I’ll see if Mrs. Manor is up for a little climate research…