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apocalypse (1).jpg

Choose Your Own Apocalypse: Bye Bye Sperm, Or Bugs Gone Wild?

By Tori Preston | Miscellaneous | September 6, 2018 |

By Tori Preston | Miscellaneous | September 6, 2018 |


apocalypse (1).jpg

Here at Pajiba, we often try to laugh in the face of our deep seated, rational existential dread about the end of the world. “We’d run toward the bomb!” we boast, suppressing a shiver at the relative likelihood we may get that very opportunity. Point is, contemplating various extinction scenarios is well within our comfort (discomfort?) zone. Cannibals, robots, global warming — been there, imagined that. This week, however, our resolve has been tested by a whole new batch of apocalyptic nightmares. Last night Kate told you about the quarantined plane that flew from Dubai to NYC with Vanilla Ice and a mysterious illness on-board, a story that’s like if People magazine fucked The Strain, and The Stand was watching, and also maybe that one episode of Fringe? I fear I’ve lost the thread, but you get the drift. It’s some real-life fictional horror shit.

But don’t worry, the Plane-Full-of-Vanilla-Iced-Doom was only the start! Apparently $40,000 worth of spiders, scorpions, and cockroaches were stolen from the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion in what appears to have been an inside job, according to the New York Times.

Here’s the kicker: The thieves also made off with the logs that the museum used to keep track of their bug collection, so it’s nearly impossible to know which insects were actually stolen. Though they ARE certain that they are definitely missing that six-eyed sand spider, one of the most venomous of its kind in the world. Add to that the fact that these creatures are pretty easy to hide, and there’s no telling how long this recovery effort could take. And look, I’m not blaming the bugs. They’re just doing their thing! Clearly people are the real problem here, so people: mayyyyyybe don’t unleash incredibly venomous creepy crawlies in populated urban areas? If our thirst for knowledge, combined with our propensity for greed, leads to our eventual downfall at the stingers of a 7,000-strong bug army? I mean, actually I’d watch that.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Have you heard about the sperm yet?

Ok, let me be more specific. GQ just published an article detailing the results of a study that men may very well stop producing enough sperm to sustain our species:

Last summer a group of researchers from Hebrew University and Mount Sinai medical school published a study showing that sperm counts in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and New Zealand have fallen by more than 50 percent over the past four decades. (They judged data from the rest of the world to be insufficient to draw conclusions from, but there are studies suggesting that the trend could be worldwide.) That is to say: We are producing half the sperm our grandfathers did. We are half as fertile.

The Hebrew University/Mount Sinai paper was a meta-analysis by a team of epidemiologists, clinicians, and researchers that culled data from 185 studies, which examined semen from almost 43,000 men. It showed that the human race is apparently on a trend line toward becoming unable to reproduce itself. Sperm counts went from 99 million sperm per milliliter of semen in 1973 to 47 million per milliliter in 2011, and the decline has been accelerating. Would 40 more years—or fewer—bring us all the way to zero?

Sure, it sounds bad, but it might actually be even worse than just a reproductive issue. It turns out that low sperm counts are often indicators of other health problems, like diabetes and cancer. And the cause of all of this is probably… chemicals? And plastics? Basically, our fancy modern life isn’t just destroying the environment, it’s also impacting our hormones, leading to men with less testosterone. Which in turn leads to men with shorter “anogenital distance” length, which is basically a measurement of the taint that can help indicate whether a dude will be subfertile.

Mostly, I just really wanted you do know that “anogenital distance” is a thing that scientists think about.

Anyway, we’re all going to die sometime. The question is whether we’ll all go out all together — maybe in a pitched battle for survival against the insects, or via a disease carried to our shores by a ’90s pop icon, or maybe we’ll just stop reproducing entirely. Of course, zombies are still on the table. And nuclear warfare, and rising sea levels. There are so many ways, really. Of course, I’m still banking on “Mutant Oscar Isaac in a bad suit and terrible makeup,” because the only way to justify wasting not only Oscar Isaac but the character of Apocalypse in goddamn X-Men: Apocalypse is to have it all come true and kill us. YES, I’M STILL SALTY.



Tori Preston is deputy editor of Pajiba. She rarely tweets here but she promises she reads all the submissions for the "Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything" column at [email protected].



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