Let’s be clear: the slow death of humanity through mass infertility is a good thing. This nightmare vision of SF and dystopian literature is, to the well-organised mind, a dream come true.
For decades scientists have been telling us about falling sperm counts, an impending infertility crisis. As the evidence mounts, the prospect has turned from a ‘maybe’ to an ‘it’s happening now.’ Epidemiologists Shanna Swan and Stacey Colino bring us up to date on the good news in their recent book “Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperilling the Future of the Human Race.” The book tells us that total sperm count in the west fell 59% between 1973 and 2011, and seems set to hit zero by 2045. Genital deformities among the newborn are becoming less rare. Apparently lifestyle, pollution, and obesity are to blame.
We thought the end of humanity would come in a blinding light and ball of atomic fire, or we would parch on a desolate plain that was once a verdant forest felled by climate meltdown. But no, we are more likely to expire with a dud orgasm, an inconclusive bang climaxing in a whimper.
Any species that walks wide-eyed into the end of everything by war or destroys the planet on which it lives deserves extinction. Any species that created and tolerated Ant and Dec, Love Island, Donald Trump, the entire British governing class, Nutella, Justin Bieber, mobile phones for dogs, Bitcoin, Brexit, deserves to be culled. Any species that worships an economic system in which we fight like dogs to feed our masters before we feed ourselves, any species that complains about actually protecting itself during a deadly pandemic, any species that will let its home collapse because it doesn’t want to interrupt the shopping deserves to be scraped off this planet. Any species that creates the pyramids, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and then descends into entitled infantile squealing as the dominant cultural form; any species that invents the internet, connecting the whole planet and giving unlimited opportunities for creativity and learning, and then uses it as a tool to squirt its own lifeless jizz into tissue-slivers of destroyed rainforest deserves far worse than gentle extinction.
But humanity’s exit is poetic and elegant because it is the testosterone associated with our failing gonads that powered our journey to this state, that propelled us to rape and conquer and control and clone ourselves through uncountable acts of violence. Our proud bollocks are now reduced to dry and withered prunes on a doomed vine through the very vices they fathered.
And compared to nuclear war or total environmental collapse, this end has the advantage of not taking the rest of the planet with us.
It’s as if nature itself has just sighed and quietly said ‘Enough is enough’ and turned off the tap that replenishes us.
With luck we’ll just fade away leaving nature to recolonise the planet as the forests and rats have reclaimed Chernobyl. We have to hope that we vanish before we complete the destruction of everything and depriving nature its chance to regenerate.
Because, sadly, in truth, the end will not be that peaceful. As our numbers dwindle and our ability to plunder the resources and despoil our home diminishes, we’ll turn on each other, fight among ourselves like starved savages stripped of all pretence of civilisation. Some will fight for whatever scraps of sustenance or whatever survival advantage they can get, some will fight just because they’re twats. We can be sure that we’ll try to trash as much as possible out of sheer petulance, like Airbnb guests who defecate in the living room of complete strangers just because. A new pornography will emerge that celebrates the deformed genitals of the last of our offspring, and the psychosexual energy generated will cause Jimmy Savile to reanimate, to become the messiah of this cult of death.
This scorched earth policy inflicted on an earth that we’ve already scorched in our more virile days will be another sad monument to our pathetic stupidity, another illustration of the pettiness that brought us to this pass.
Shanna Swan and Stacey Colino frame their data as a dire warning, they speak of falling fertility as a threat to humanity, and urge a radical change in lifestyle and the way we are contaminating the environment in order to avert this catastrophe. On the contrary, this is a chance too good to miss. And in an age of seemingly unremitting bad news and bleakness, at last there is an end in sight, at last we have something to look forward to.