Climate vs Climax: Things Are Heating Up In The Bedroom

2021-11-30

 |  Science & The Environment

Nothing ruins the mood in the bedroom like a heatwave. 

Economists Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, and Melanie Guldi wrote about this fact in their research paper ‘Maybe Next Month? Temperature Climate Change and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates’, that outlined three key points about the impact climate change has on our sex lives: 

  1. The U.S population will decrease due to increased weather temperatures with a projected 2.6% decline (approximately 107,000 less births per year) and an expected greater population decline in developing countries.
  2. Climate change will likely increase summer births and lead to worse infant health outcomes due to increased utero exposure to high temperatures. Proof that fertility is an important and understudied cost of climate change. 
  3. Affordable access to air conditioners is a major player in mitigating fertility costs around the world, despite how increased AC usage would contribute further to greenhouse gas emissions. 

This research paper alone spurred countless articles in 2015 from Cosmopolitan to CNN to warn folks about how climate change would cock block them until cooler temperatures reset the mood. In scientific terms, this study investigated how climate change impacted “coital frequency”. Elsewhere, the Sydney Herald aptly summarized: “Stop climate change; get laid more.”

Let’s take a closer look at these findings.

  1.  The US population will decrease due to increased weather temperatures with a projected 2.6% decline (approximately 107,000 less births per year) with likely a greater population decline in developing countries.
  • As of writing this, the population in the US is 33,484,850. In 2015 it was roughly 320 million. The global population is 7.9 billion versus the 2015 population of 7.3 billion. With these numbers in mind, it is evident that birth rates have not declined. Even the infant mortality rates have improved in the US from 2015’s rate of 5.8 deaths per 1000 live births to 2021’s 5.6 deaths per 1000 live births.
  • Although the current stats show no sign of population decline, it is important to remember that this research is a projection of the US and global population over the coming century. As our global population continues to balloon, the severity of climate change will escalate alongside it. This growing strain on natural resources will reach a point where climate change will be a major factor for some who decide to remain childless. We’ve already seen some voicing this conclusion like this woman in the following Tiktok by @justhopinalong
  • This research is a projection of a vicious cycle, in that, as the population grows, so does the severity of climate change that it will force our population to decline. As the population declines, it will pave the way for the environment to recover which will allow our population to rebound. It will be ping-ponging between a growing population and a healing environment that will leave us with whiplash. 
  • In addressing this issue, I want to make it clear that this relationship between climate change and birth rates is not an excuse to shame those who choose to have children. The fuel of this cycle is not those who want families, the fuel is the lack of regulation and lack of environmental agency in the spheres of industry and government. These parties have substantial power to propel change and have the choice to act upon research such as this for the better. The hope is that they can understand the value of preparing for a healthier future even if they won’t be alive to experience it. 

2. Climate change will likely increase summer births and lead to worse infant health outcomes due to increased utero exposure to high temperatures. Proof that fertility is an important and understudied cost of climate change.  

When discussing fertility, it is imperative to acknowledge how climate change impacts the sexual lives of women. It is no secret that women are disproportionately affected by the planet turning into a dumpster fire. Now, I do not want to paint the picture of women being helpless in the face of our current world when women have consistently proved to be leaders to create change in their communities and the world at large. However, in a conversation of how climate change impacts our sex lives, the sex lives of women are affected more than men.

Image: Ramon Espinosa/AP

From the article: ‘Understanding Why Climate Change Impacts Women More Than Men By Joe McCarthy

  • In rural communities, for instance, women are typically in charge of maintaining the home, and with the rise of droughts and forest fires, accessing necessities to care for themselves and their families is more difficult. A reality that is particularly true for remote rural communities. Lack of resources takes a dark turn with ocean acidification and warming ocean temperatures causing declining fish stocks and make the key source of protein for countless communities scarce and thus more expensive. This is the catalyst for women having to sell sex in exchange for fish. A terrifying truth that will only escalate over time. Moreover, if a woman in this position does become pregnant, she will be faced with conditions that could cause her to be displaced and deny her pre and postnatal care. 
  • It is too early to tell whether there will be an increase in summer births due to climate change; it is however evident that the impacts of climate change upon fertility are understudied. To believe that heatwaves alone are predicted to worsen infant health is ridiculous. There are several components based on the socio-economic status of women, combined with the large-scale impact of climate change on resources, that put the likelihood of birthing healthy babies very low. It hails back to the previous point in that as the climate plummets, the population will be forced to decline in one way or another. 

3. Affordable access to air conditioners is a major player in mitigating fertility costs around the world, despite how increased AC usage would contribute further to greenhouse gas emissions. 

  • I confess that during the heatwaves we faced last summer, I sat in a room with an air conditioner and momentarily pretended the outside world didn’t exist to avoid the guilt of using it. With how uncomfortable the world outside my room was, I genuinely can’t imagine going through that with morning sickness, swollen feet, acid reflux along with all the other side effects of pregnancy. So, this conclusion to enforce affordable access to air conditioners makes sense, however, this mustn’t be the only measure enforced. Climate change shaping our reproduction numbers is a multifaceted issue that requires action in multiple corners of society. 
  • This is not an opinion solely for the benefit of the environment, but also for politicians who want fully grown taxpayers to foot the bill for climate change. The costs of climate change are mounting into a looming monster and politicians need someone to pay it off. The cost will only be higher if AC is the only weapon of defense.

Overall, it is glaringly obvious that climate change impacts our sex lives. Scientists and economists foretell that as the climate-related weather grows extreme our sex lives will feel the heat, and not in a good way. The solution to these issues will not be established by a single action, but by several conscious measures to address climate change as it is a problem on varying levels of government and industry. A change this overarching will require citizens and customers to be informed and advocate for change. It’s a daunting prospect, so to help, I have linked below powerful people in Canadian government who is in charge of addressing climate change. Even if you don’t feel comfortable asking them a question or telling them your concerns, it is still a step forward to be aware of who is making these impactful decisions on your behalf. They need to take responsibility to turn down the heat of our earth’s atmosphere so we can have sex in peace. 

Contact List: 

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who within the last 48 hours of writing this, announced his cabinet including two people below who is worth voicing your concerns to as they have the upcoming month to prepare for Parliament.
  • Minister for Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault
  • Minister for Fisheries and Oceans Joyce Murray 
  • Check out the MP map here to see who to contact in your area (if you’re outside of Canada, I encourage you to give your governmental leaders a google to see who to talk to).

Sources:

*CNN 2015: https://www.cnn.com/2015/11/06/health/climate-change-sex-drive-birth-rate/index.html 

*CNN 2019: https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/23/health/climate-change-infant-sex-ratio-intl/index.html 

*Vancouver Sun 2015:

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/pete-mcmartin-is-your-sex-life-the-answer-to-climate-change

*Sydney Herald 2015: https://www.smh.com.au/opinion/how-climate-change-could-ruin-your-sex-life-20151105-gkrc67.html

*‘Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates’ by Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes and Melanie Guldi, 2015: https://www.nber.org/papers/w21681 

*Global Citizen (2020): https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/how-climate-change-affects-women/