Chinese semen has been a hot topic in international and local media this week, after an expert confirmed the quality, and apparently “handsomeness” of sperm in Shanghai is decreasing in response to an official report linking China’s ubiquitous pollution to infertility.
The report that ignited the media frenzy, entitled “Green Paper on climate change,” written by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the China Meteorological Administration on Climate Change, about urbanization and low-carbon development, weirdly has nothing to do with the health effects of pollution.
However, as the Telegraph reports, the Chinese media took “a couple of sentences in a report that was hundreds of pages long” linking inhaled pollutants to “reproductive ability, amongst other effects” and ran with it.
Now it seems that a sure way to grab the attention of Chinese news consumers is to discuss the threat to human health. The initial announcement on Monday of the publication of the government paper, which has been released annually since 2009, didn’t such a frightening note. It focused on how to incorporate low-carbon development amid China’s increasing urbanization.
But by Tuesday, editors of many Chinese media outlets had posted headlines that emphasized the reproductive health discussion buried in the report. The story took off online.
One Sina Weibo user suggested that Beijing’s family planning policies could now be cancelled. Another said the haze could now act as a contraceptive (well, at least, condom-related accidents such as this one will be reduced).
The release of the report on Monday, motivated Jiefang Daily to investigate the effects of pollution on Shanghai sperm specifically. They interviewed Dr. Li Zheng, an expert from the Shanghai Renji Hospital infertility research team, who revealed that the quality of Shanghai’s sperm has deteriorated over the last 10 years.
Li elaborated poor environment can cause sperm to be “ugly” and stop swimming. In fact, a staggering two thirds of Shanghai semen samples collected did not reach World Health Organisation sperm count standards.
Pollution could be an equal opportunist – earlier in the year, scientists launched a new study examining potential links between environmental hazards and female infertility in China.
As if pollution wasn’t affecting people at an early enough age, what with an 8-year-old girl getting lung cancer, it seems now it’s intent on wiping out China’s future generations, before they are even born.