FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Fat Cat »

Many countries, including Italy, South Korea and Japan, are predicted to see their populations drop by more than half by the end of this century.

The coronavirus pandemic is also having a profound incremental impact, with provisional fertility declines of 5-15 per cent in most developed countries. South Korea recently reported a 2020 fertility rate of 0.84, the lowest rate ever recorded for a major economy.

Lower population growth directly causes slower economic growth. A falling fertility rate also increases the proportion of older adults in the population. In China, for example, the percentage of people aged 60 or over has risen from 6 per cent in 1970 to 17 per cent today and is predicted to reach an astonishing 35 per cent in just 30 years.



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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by baffled »

Paywall, but what chemicals are to blame? Other than things like teflon and plastics?

I'm actually doing a screen on Thursday for suspected low-t.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Fat Cat »

baffled wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 12:00 am Paywall, but what chemicals are to blame? Other than things like teflon and plastics?

I'm actually doing a screen on Thursday for suspected low-t.


We are in a global baby bust of unprecedented proportions. It is far from over and its implications are gravely underestimated.

The worldwide fertility rate has already dropped more than 50 per cent in the past 50 years, from 5.1 births per woman in 1964 to 2.4 in 2018, according to the World Bank. In 2020, the 20 per cent shortfall below replacement rate in US fertility, together with low net immigration, produced the lowest population growth on record of 0.35 per cent, below even the flu pandemic of 1918.

Many countries, including Italy, South Korea and Japan, are predicted to see their populations drop by more than half by the end of this century.

The coronavirus pandemic is also having a profound incremental impact, with provisional fertility declines of 5-15 per cent in most developed countries. South Korea recently reported a 2020 fertility rate of 0.84, the lowest rate ever recorded for a major economy.

Lower population growth directly causes slower economic growth. A falling fertility rate also increases the proportion of older adults in the population. In China, for example, the percentage of people aged 60 or over has risen from 6 per cent in 1970 to 17 per cent today and is predicted to reach an astonishing 35 per cent in just 30 years.

This trend will result in a greatly increased burden on pension and medical systems as fewer workers struggle to look after a growing number of retirees. With the old taking up more resources, and the shortage of young workers requiring more capital spending to maintain productivity, the current era of excess savings is likely to end.

This is likely to lead to the higher inflation and real interest rates typical of the pre-2000 era. This would almost certainly be accompanied by a reversion towards the lower average levels of asset prices that characterised the 20th century.

From an environmental perspective, a smaller population is exactly what the climate and biosphere need. However, we must still fully decarbonise global industrial systems and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere to its pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million from its probable future peak of more than 550 parts.

To achieve this will require every biological and mechanical innovation of which we are capable. Unfortunately, lower economic growth caused by a shrinking and ageing population may weaken not only the necessary innovation and investment but also the resolve to do it. It will need significant fiscal and regulatory encouragement to get the job done.

The most frightening aspect of this baby bust is that it is not occurring entirely by choice. Social changes, particularly female empowerment, and economic constraints contribute to the falling birth rate — but our actual capacity to have children is in steep decline, as evidenced by a shocking 50 per cent decline in sperm count since 1970 and an equally rapid increase in age-adjusted miscarriage rates.

The most likely cause of this is endocrine disruption, which is the hijacking of our body's hormonal system by environmental toxicants.

Infertility is beginning to rise rapidly and, combined with the increasing age at which women in developed countries are having children, is leading to greater difficulty conceiving.

The tens of thousands of artificial organic chemical compounds that we use in everyday life are undoubtedly contributing to these effects. The detrimental health effects of some, such as bisphenol A, phthalates and perfluorinated compounds, are already well known. More research is needed to discover other culprits.

The US is an outlier in this respect. For example, the benefit of doubt is given in the EU to human safety from chemicals. But in the US this is given to the intellectual capital of our corporations, in accordance with the so-called Kehoe rule, that suspicious chemicals should be assumed innocent until proven guilty. This kept lead in petrol for 50 years after its danger was first suspected.

Whereas the US has banned only 11 substances in cosmetics, the EU prohibits more than one thousand. Ultimately, a complete shift in our attitude towards regulation will be required, including the prevention of “regrettable substitution” which replaces banned chemicals with their chemically similar and equally dangerous relatives.

Known endocrine disrupters must be banned entirely, and far more stringent regulations are needed to oversee new chemicals that are being developed, to ensure that they are proven safe before they come to market.

As we did with leaded petrol and lead paint, we are poisoning ourselves and our environment. We have to stop now to protect both our health and our economic wellbeing. We are in a global baby bust of unprecedented proportions. It is far from over and its implications are gravely underestimated.



^^^Complete article. It's interesting to me that this is in the Financial Times, as this was pure granolaville just a few years ago. The problem are "xenoestrogens" and other endocrine disrupters, artificial substances that your body cannot distinguish from natural, endogenous chemical messengers in the body. Most plastics, for instance, leach estrogenic chemicals.

https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.1003220
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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Nanoplastics can change the secondary structure of proteins

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-52495-w
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Alfred_E._Neuman »

I have two points ad to this conversation.
1: 100% agree that we must phase out petrochemicals as soon as we possibly can. I'd say that petrochemical pollution in the form of plastics (especially) and chemical additives in everything we consume is going to end up being a harder problem to deal with than climate change. Pushed, we can deal with climate change through mitigation, even if it's painful. But the damage the petrochemicals are causing will have long term effect on every species on the planet. Nothing on this rock evolved to ingest these chemicals. The irony of the whole thing is that solving the petrochemical issue goes a long way to addressing the anthropogenic portion of climate change. Win-win.

2: I believe that we're on the brink of economic productivity and societal viability becoming decoupled from having a large and nearly fully employed labor pool. As machine learning and eventually real AI comes on line, nearly all work will move toward automation. GDP will have very little to do with how many people you can employ, but rather how well you deploy technology. We're looking at a true post-scarcity world. At that point, the real issue facing society will be how to engage people who don't have the anchor of a career form the basis of their self worth. Best case scenario we'll see a new renaissance in the arts, a return to craftsmanship, and renewed appreciation for personal growth and adventure. Most likely we'll see people sitting on their ass downloading the latest game and having the Amazon drones drop hot pockets down their gullet.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Fat Cat »

Good post AEN, I’m seeing a lot of the same things. I think environmental mitigation will become a big industry with large undertakings like cleaning up the pacific garbage patch and micro plastics in our rivers, streams, and lakes.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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Alfred_E._Neuman wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:32 am I have two points ad to this conversation.
1: 100% agree that we must phase out petrochemicals as soon as we possibly can. I'd say that petrochemical pollution in the form of plastics (especially) and chemical additives in everything we consume is going to end up being a harder problem to deal with than climate change. Pushed, we can deal with climate change through mitigation, even if it's painful. But the damage the petrochemicals are causing will have long term effect on every species on the planet. Nothing on this rock evolved to ingest these chemicals. The irony of the whole thing is that solving the petrochemical issue goes a long way to addressing the anthropogenic portion of climate change. Win-win.

2: I believe that we're on the brink of economic productivity and societal viability becoming decoupled from having a large and nearly fully employed labor pool. As machine learning and eventually real AI comes on line, nearly all work will move toward automation. GDP will have very little to do with how many people you can employ, but rather how well you deploy technology. We're looking at a true post-scarcity world. At that point, the real issue facing society will be how to engage people who don't have the anchor of a career form the basis of their self worth. Best case scenario we'll see a new renaissance in the arts, a return to craftsmanship, and renewed appreciation for personal growth and adventure. Most likely we'll see people sitting on their ass downloading the latest game and having the Amazon drones drop hot pockets down their gullet.
For your point #2 - do you all feel we are heading towards a point where we are going to need to give people some form of universal basic income just to keep things going?

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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Gene »

newguy wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 3:35 am For your point #2 - do you all feel we are heading towards a point where we are going to need to give people some form of universal basic income just to keep things going?
Hope not. The US already has two industries on UBI. Medical industry and Colleges. Their prices go up faster than inflation.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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Alfred_E._Neuman wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:32 am
As machine learning and eventually real AI comes on line, nearly all work will move toward automation.
You want to hand the production of your food and other vitals over to something smart enough to handle the entire value chain?

Right now we serve each other to get something for ourselves. Most of us have at least some empathy or humanity towards each other.

The AI will at first, to cite Hans Moravec, probably serve us because it loves us. Let's hope that it keeps that loving feeling.

AI has to compare itself to natural intelligence. We will react to it with fear or worry. Ever been around a super bright person? They can make you feel pretty dumb. This thing is magnitudes of order smarter than any one of us. We'll be like dumb toddlers around it.

The AI or AIs may decide not to bother breaking it down for us. Do as they say or be punished. A brilliant mind can make great punishments. Great now we're slaves or glorified house pets.

Alternately the AI may decide to keep the loving feeling, and then decide that sitting around on our asses isn't the best for us. We'll get pushed out in the fields. Those who do not work do not eat. Instead of a life of leisure we'll be field hands for our own good.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Alfred_E._Neuman »

newguy wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 3:35 am
Alfred_E._Neuman wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:32 am I have two points ad to this conversation.
1: 100% agree that we must phase out petrochemicals as soon as we possibly can. I'd say that petrochemical pollution in the form of plastics (especially) and chemical additives in everything we consume is going to end up being a harder problem to deal with than climate change. Pushed, we can deal with climate change through mitigation, even if it's painful. But the damage the petrochemicals are causing will have long term effect on every species on the planet. Nothing on this rock evolved to ingest these chemicals. The irony of the whole thing is that solving the petrochemical issue goes a long way to addressing the anthropogenic portion of climate change. Win-win.

2: I believe that we're on the brink of economic productivity and societal viability becoming decoupled from having a large and nearly fully employed labor pool. As machine learning and eventually real AI comes on line, nearly all work will move toward automation. GDP will have very little to do with how many people you can employ, but rather how well you deploy technology. We're looking at a true post-scarcity world. At that point, the real issue facing society will be how to engage people who don't have the anchor of a career form the basis of their self worth. Best case scenario we'll see a new renaissance in the arts, a return to craftsmanship, and renewed appreciation for personal growth and adventure. Most likely we'll see people sitting on their ass downloading the latest game and having the Amazon drones drop hot pockets down their gullet.
For your point #2 - do you all feel we are heading towards a point where we are going to need to give people some form of universal basic income just to keep things going?
I think a UBI is definitely on the way. I think I'll see some form of it in my working lifetime (I'm 46). If I had kids, I think they would eventually see a decoupling of their labor from their access to the necessities - food, clothing, shelter, information. I'm including information and access to it as a necessity in the modern world. I see a scenario where the UBI gives everyone the freedom to work much less at a traditional "job" and have the time and ability to chase dreams a bit more.
Imagine only needing to go to your job 2 days a week, but you get the income and benefits of a full time job. That gives you the rest of your week to do work that appeals to you, create things, maybe start your own business. Or just go ride your bike.

As to Gene's worry that AI will become our master, I don't think we have to worry about that for a loooong time. That scenario is only applicable to a self-improving and sentient artificial being. First gen true AI will be a problem solving magic bullet, but it won't make moral decisions because it won't be conscious. It will just be a labor savor of unimaginable proportions. Just like the robots that build cars don't make the decision on what the car looks like or how the end product will perform, it simply assembles the pieces we designed. Automated farms (natural or vertical) will grow what we decide they'll grow. But the machines will make it so virtually no labor is needed outside of maintaining the machines, while production will go up an order of magnitude or more. Especially with the AI problem solving and managing every aspect of the process from seed to table.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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This is part of it.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-s ... ly-perfect
I think I’ll be ready for kids in about two years. Once I get my life sorted out and achieve a few of my big goals—which will definitely happen in my thirties—then I’m totally ready for a kid or two!

Thing is, kids are expensive. You have to buy them strollers and diapers and top-rated car seats and high-quality baby food made of, like, blended-up, grass-fed, T-bone steaks. I barely have a handle on my current finances, let alone the foresight to budget for all that stuff. That’s why I need to learn how investments work and put an extra hundred thousand bucks in bitcoin and emerging-market index funds before I can afford kids. I refuse to have a kid who doesn’t eat the best mashed-up T-bones!

Kids are incredible. So full of joy and wonder. But also so physically demanding! Kids wake you up every single night for four years until you’re tired and defeated and your eyes are bloodshot like a frostbitten, nineteenth-century Alaskan gold miner’s. I have friends with kids, and that’s how it went for all of them. I really need to launch my movie career by writing, directing, and starring in a popular comedy before I have a kid. I’ll do that by the time I’m thirty-nine. Then I’ll be successful and happy, and—BOOM! My kid will have a movie-star father!

Honestly, kids sound great. They’re just full of cute little surprises, like when they shout that a cloud looks like a butt, or they pronounce Neapolitan ice cream “neopatoleyman.” So adorable. It would be amazing to experience that daily. But kids really need a wise and worldly parent who’s already had his share of life-altering adventures. That’s why I should visit every country on earth and spend a summer riding the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Mongolia before I even consider parenting a kid. After I’ve been a blacksmith’s apprentice in Ulaanbaatar and learned to hunt wolves in the Gobi Desert, then I’ll get serious about having kids and teaching them self-reliance through smithing and wolf-hunting.

But am I even sure I want kids? Of course! Once I turn forty-one.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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Gene wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 5:27 am
Alfred_E._Neuman wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:32 am
As machine learning and eventually real AI comes on line, nearly all work will move toward automation.
You want to hand the production of your food and other vitals over to something smart enough to handle the entire value chain?

Right now we serve each other to get something for ourselves. Most of us have at least some empathy or humanity towards each other.

The AI will at first, to cite Hans Moravec, probably serve us because it loves us. Let's hope that it keeps that loving feeling.

AI has to compare itself to natural intelligence. We will react to it with fear or worry. Ever been around a super bright person? They can make you feel pretty dumb. This thing is magnitudes of order smarter than any one of us. We'll be like dumb toddlers around it.

The AI or AIs may decide not to bother breaking it down for us. Do as they say or be punished. A brilliant mind can make great punishments. Great now we're slaves or glorified house pets.

Alternately the AI may decide to keep the loving feeling, and then decide that sitting around on our asses isn't the best for us. We'll get pushed out in the fields. Those who do not work do not eat. Instead of a life of leisure we'll be field hands for our own good.
Hate to break it to you Gene, but that happened a long time ago.

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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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Alfred_E._Neuman wrote: Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:32 am I have two points ad to this conversation.
1: 100% agree that we must phase out petrochemicals as soon as we possibly can. I'd say that petrochemical pollution in the form of plastics (especially) and chemical additives in everything we consume is going to end up being a harder problem to deal with than climate change. Pushed, we can deal with climate change through mitigation, even if it's painful. But the damage the petrochemicals are causing will have long term effect on every species on the planet. Nothing on this rock evolved to ingest these chemicals. The irony of the whole thing is that solving the petrochemical issue goes a long way to addressing the anthropogenic portion of climate change. Win-win.

2: I believe that we're on the brink of economic productivity and societal viability becoming decoupled from having a large and nearly fully employed labor pool. As machine learning and eventually real AI comes on line, nearly all work will move toward automation. GDP will have very little to do with how many people you can employ, but rather how well you deploy technology. We're looking at a true post-scarcity world. At that point, the real issue facing society will be how to engage people who don't have the anchor of a career form the basis of their self worth. Best case scenario we'll see a new renaissance in the arts, a return to craftsmanship, and renewed appreciation for personal growth and adventure. Most likely we'll see people sitting on their ass downloading the latest game and having the Amazon drones drop hot pockets down their gullet.
This is quality. Nice post.

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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Grandpa's Spells »

Article is a little weird citing alarming stats in China while ignoring the role of government's One/Two Child policy. Makes me wonder about the rest. There's a very clear line tracing economic development, reduced poverty, and having fewer kids.
but our actual capacity to have children is in steep decline, as evidenced by a shocking 50 per cent decline in sperm count since 1970
Is this true? Society tends to take a strong position on dick-don't-work disorders.

The coming Abundance with ML and AI will be amazing if we get the policy right. I'm looking at some technology right now where software could let us reduce professional services people by maybe 80%. It didn't exist two years ago. I do not think most executives would choose to retain the 80% and continue paying them. This is going to happen very quickly, IMO. No code platforms, basic AI programs that can be easily leveraged, all this stuff is going to shake things up
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Sangoma »

Besides the economic growth, which lately seems the only factor that counts, is the decrease in birth rate necessarily bad?

What is the limit of the capacity of this planet to sustain the population? The biomass of the Earth is limited, obviously, and the biomass of human population is growing at the expense of the rest of life on the planet. I wonder how far we can go.
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

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Sangoma wrote: Wed Mar 24, 2021 10:42 pm Besides the economic growth, which lately seems the only factor that counts, is the decrease in birth rate necessarily bad?

What is the limit of the capacity of this planet to sustain the population? The biomass of the Earth is limited, obviously, and the biomass of human population is growing at the expense of the rest of life on the planet. I wonder how far we can go.
That's beyond retarded, like the people who say we need a war because of overpopulation. The reality is that some parts of the planet are overpopulated and some aren't, but approaching that problem via mass pollution (or war) makes absolutely no sense. Here's some big-brain shit: what if we controlled population growth AND pollution via rational planning?
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Re: FT: The chemicals that are contributing to the decline in fertility must be banned

Post by Alfred_E._Neuman »

Cool little excerpt from a Rich Roll podcast with Dr. Zack Bush talking about glyphosate and it's side effects. Since it's the main ingredient in Round-Up week killer, it's pretty much ubiquitous in our food chain unless you're eating organic and non-GMO. And even then big ag has fought tooth and nail to prevent you from knowing how your food is grown.
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