Umm……

Decreasing fertility rates may be linked to pollution caused by fossil fuel burning, a review of scientific studies has found.

Over the past 50 years childbirth has steadily decreased. The study focused on Denmark, but the trend is also seen in other industrialised nations. One in 10 Danish children are born with assisted reproduction and more than 20% of men never have children, according to the researchers. This decrease seems to have started at the beginning of industrialisation.

That’s a significant increase, not decrease. The usual rule of thumb of archaic societies – from DNA studies – is that only 40% of men did have children. Thus the introduction of fossil fuels – and possibly the nuclear family format – has increased male fertility, hasn’t it?

19 thoughts on “Umm……”

  1. And correlation is not causation. Fossil fuel use has increased. So has increased use of watches and clocks and doing everything by the time the show. But which has caused the fertility change.

  2. I’d agree RlJ. The fact is it costs quite a lot to marry someone and start a family. Fossil fuels make us all richer, and thus likely increase male fertility as Tim points out.

  3. Going anon for obvious reasons.
    My wife and I have only one child and we needed IVF because of problems she had.
    My mother in law had 6 children.
    This could be because of increased problems of fertility or because we started a lot older (I would definitely suggest to our child that they aim to finish their family before they and their wife are 30).

    My mother in law didn’t go to uni which helped her to start earlier.

  4. Looked at figures for Denmark and compared to peer countries — Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. There is no correlation between fossil fuel consumption (DK:22,947; FI:30,444; IS:37,053; NO:30,045 and SE:19,304kWh/capita.annum) and fertility (DK:1.7, FI:1.35, IS:1.75, NO:1.53 and SE:1.7 births per woman).

    Data for 2019 as latest available, sources:
    https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/fossil-fuels-per-capita?country=DNK~NOR~SWE~ISL~FIN
    https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.TFRT.IN?end=2019&locations=NO-SE-DK-IS-FI&start=2019&view=bar

  5. @RlJ: I think marriage and having children are only loosely correlated. I don’t think governments have managed to make sex unattractive. I suspect the fact that effective oral contraception has been around for 60 years and became increasingly easier to obtain is the major factor, plus the economics of having a kid of course.

  6. The summary to the Guardian’s article is the key to understanding this. “Danish scientists urge more research into impact of exposure to toxic chemical pollutants from fossil fuels”. They’re after a grant, so they come up with a dodgy hypothesis which they will “rigorously research” for the next ten years.

  7. You can be fertile without having children, thanks to the pill. The interesting statistic is the number of fertility treatments (IVF). The increase in IVF is clearly a consequence of technology. The alleged increase in need for IVF may be associated with fossil fuel pollution but given that pollution levels have been declining in the West for more than half a century I’m dubious.

  8. My mother was eighteen when I was born in 1958, I have two younger brothers. Mrs. S was twenty nine when our sprog was born in 1997, we only had one. We had no difficulty with conceiving. Not sure how relevant all that is just a little more anecdotal evidence added.

  9. Industrialisation has been around for 150 years, environmentalism and widespread contraception, and mass education past 15 for around fifty. They choose the unfashionable cause which does not correlate.

  10. Industrialisation? Only incidentally.

    Increasing age of mothers is the assistance issue.

    Electric lighting accounts for a lot of the other. Evidence from shows that when a household gets electric lighting, they stay up much later. No lighting they have nothing to do but go to bed at 6pm and get busy..

  11. pre-industrialisation- Samuel Pepys had an eye for the ladies. Among other things got into hot water from wife for kissing the maid. Ok but what really made me feel the past is another country was when he travelled somewhere outside london he propositioned the innkeeper’s wife to spend the night with him — and she agreed.

  12. Arthur the cat,
    It’s been known since Roman times that financially independent women are less likely to marry and have children. Western governments do everything in their power to ensure women are financially independent. QED

  13. “…..20% of men never have children ….” .
    As far I can remember from my biology classes, no man can have children. Anyway, statistics can mean anything you want them to mean. It seems that fertility has decreased during the 50 years that Coronation Street has been broadcast. Therefore,if we bomb ITV headquarters, the childbirth rates will increase. Simple.

  14. “One in 10 Danish children are born with assisted reproduction and more than 20% of men never have children, according to the researchers. This decrease seems to have started at the beginning of industrialisation.”
    I would love to see the average age of their mothers compared to those who don’t need help.

  15. Oh, Tim!
    Of course decreasing fertility rates may be linked to pollution caused by burning fossil fuels: there is a very strong negative correlation.
    If you subconsciously expect a high proportion of your children to die young due to air pollution, then there is an incentive to have more children to make it more likely than at least one will survive you to inherit your wealth or to support you in your old age (depending on whether you are rich or poor).

  16. I doubt there’s many people nowadays have actually ever seen fossil fuel pollution. I was born at a time when London smogs were so thick you could lose sight of your feet. When they cleared, the filth hung from the telephone wires in strings. As a kid. I used to come back from trips out with my hands black from the soot covered everything. That’s what fossil fuel pollution looks like. And I’m part of the baby boom.

  17. I was never in London during a smog, but we experienced it in a reduced form even in rural Lancashire, because every house had a coal fire, often more than one, so every fog became a smog.

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