Accuracy in Media

On the day the East Coast got its first major snowstorm of the year, the Washington Post released a story that said increased heat waves could curb men’s’ ability to produce children and thus significantly reduce the human population.

“Heat waves caused by climate change could impair male fertility across generations, scientists warn,” read the headline on Isaac Stanley-Becker’s piece.

We know about the damage from hurricanes, tornadoes and other calamities, but “heat waves are more of a ‘silent killer,’” Stanley-Becker wrote.

“One of the ways that heat kills is by increasing pressure in the skull, constricting blood flow to the brain,” Stanley-Becker’s story began. “Damaged tissue can also enter the bloodstream and cause kidney failure. At a certain point, an elevated internal temperature simply incinerates cells in the body.”

But it does more than kill.

“It also diminishes the vitality of sperm, curtailing the capacity to reproduce.”

He wrote that “scientists found that heat waves undermine sperm production and viability, and also interfere with movement through the female. They further discovered that extreme heat ‘reduced reproductive potential and lifespan of offspring when fathered by males, or sperm, that had experienced heatwaves.”

Heat stress, he wrote, has been found by scientists in England to be “associated with transgenerational fertility problems.”

This means the organisms “may bear the effects of elevated temperatures long after the initial exposure – in former of reduced lifespans, reproductive challenges and other types of defects passed to offspring.”

The testing that produced these conclusions, he noted, was done on beetles, although “warm-blooded mammals have been the primary focus of existing research on warming and sperm quality.”

Beetles were placed in heat of 104-107 degrees for five days. Male reproductive performance halved after the first heat wave and almost disappeared after subsequent heat waves, Stanley-Becker noted.

Fortunately, heat waves are not driven by CO2 emissions, are subject to natural variation and are less common now than they were in the 1930s, which preceded the Baby Boom, the largest influx of humans into the United States in its history.

In fact, according to a story on Watts Up With That, the world’s most widely read climate website, Anthony Watts, proprietor of the site, wrote that “there has been no significant trends in heat wave frequency since the 1880s, and there has been an overall decline in the number of decadal-scale heat waves since the 1930s.”

In fact, climatologist John Christy says about 75 percent of the states recorded their hottest temperature prior to 1955 and more than half experienced their lowest temperature ever since 1940.

Records of this sort are distorted, according to Pat Michaels, climate researcher for the Cato Institute, because reporting begins as the Earth was coming out of the last Ice Age and includes less than 150 years of data.

Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace who left that organization to pursue climate research, said, “I do not believe the earth has a fever because it’s colder now than it has been through most of the history of life.”

The EPA’s website features a graph of its heat wave index. The 1930s achieved more than 1.2 on the index. This after the 1920s produced a significant rise in what waves to nearly 0.6 on the index. No other decade on the index exceeds 0.3.

“We are creating great anxiety without it being justified,” wrote  climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson. “There are no indications that the warming is so severe that we need to panic. The warming we have had over the last 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed at all.”

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