Wednesday, May 10, 2006

End of the World?

Press reports have surfaced concerning strange electrical phenomena at Hellesdon in Norwich. Apparently, concerned residents have been reporting strange goings on with their electrical appliances for some time.

Car remote controls have mysteriously stopped working. Car alarms are going off without any apparent reason. Garage doors don't open, or can't be closed. Residents are baffled.

All very interesting in a human interest kind of way. Just the sort of story the newspapers like: very mysterious, but no real substance.

Or, is there?

Residents, at first, thought that it might be something to do with Norwich Airport, which is not very far away. Airport says, "Nothing to do with us, Guv!" Evening News contacts local electrical engineers - no explanations. Spokesman for Norfolk Constabulary says, "Nothing to do with us, and we have had no reports of problems."

End of story: or, is it?

Electricity has only been around for about 100 years in it's present form - we'll discount lightning for the purposes of this discussion - Edison demonstrated the light bulb in 1879. Not much happened before 1900 and then the "electricity" age really got going. In just the last 40- 50 years we have seen an explosion in the use of electricity so that our modern society cannot survive without it. We are surrounded every day by an electromagnetic field - generated to service our lifestyle - this was inconceivable to our grandparent's generation. Who knows what the long term affects may be?

Some facts: a substantial fraction (roughly 30%) of 19-20 yr old men in Denmark have sperm densities so low as to likely impair fertility. Further, there has been a steady decline in sperm quality in Denmark underway for several decades. The researchers in Denmark conclude that the decline in the quality of Danish sperm is not due to any social factors - but is real.

Some more facts: "after an extensive review of data from 61 published studies, three California researchers have concluded that a decline in average sperm density reported in the U.S. and other Western countries may be even greater than previously estimated. Their analysis of data collected from 1938 to 1990 indicates that sperm densities in the United States have exhibited an average annual decrease of 1.5 million sperm per millilitre of collected sample, or about 1.5 percent per year, while those in European countries have declined at about twice that rate (3.1 percent per year)."

Finally: "it's well known to physicians who deal with male infertility that the vast majority of male infertility is due to low sperm counts and/or poor sperm quality. What isn't as well known is that multiple studies have shown that in highly industrialized countries(my italics), sperm counts and sperm quality has been decreasing during the past 40 to 50 years. One of the most widely publicized studies showing a decline in sperm quality was published in the prestigious British Medical Journal in 1992 by Carlsen et al.5 The study was a meta-analysis of 61 studies done between 1938 and 1991 that examined sperm counts and sperm quality in men without a history of infertility. The results were startling: both sperm counts and sperm density showed significant declines between 1938 and 1991. ( I would submit that the increase in electro-magnetic radiation was pronounced for the first time in this era )This led the authors of the study to conclude that "as male fertility is to some extent correlated with sperm count, the results may reflect an overall reduction in male fertility."

Ok, Ok - I can hear some of you echoing Dawn French in the Vicar of Dibley, "Ok, we're on the outskirts of Looney Land, next stop city centre!" All I'm saying is: wouldn't it be diabolically ironic if the modern world and it's electricity-based culture was the cause of the eventual demise of man! And, we never got near the innings of the dinosaurs. Wait a minute, this could, however, be a boon for the last man with motive sperm. Form an orderly queue, please ladies. Talk about The Handmaid's Tale in reverse - I sure hope it's me!

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