Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Age of Aquarius

You’ve heard about the fish. And the amphibians and the reptiles. How they’re changing their sex all the time. Like they’re from San Francisco. The Potomac is full of such transgendered vertebrates. How symbolic of our times. Such transmutations are natural, in certain species. Years ago I wrote a book on Evolutionism, encyclopedic in scope, in which for some reason I cited a type of fish in which the largest female of a group where there is no male will simply become male. Certain lizards can manage the same feat. How interesting. But the Potomac fish are a different kettle of, um, fish. The females are normal. Eighty percent of the smallmouth bass males, however, produce eggs instead of sperm.

At this same time, there is a sharp rise in reported cases on college campuses all along the Potomac of impotence and a lack of sexual interest by males. Hm. Being the unbelievable stud that I am, this seems an odd and strangely desirable problem to have. I am troubled by a surfeit of hormones, you see. And at my age. Poor little me. Perhaps I should get my drinking water from the Potomac, which is full of feminizing chemical endocrinal disruptors.

The soft female-like boys of this latest generation, however, cluster not only along the Potomac. We find them everywhere. Throughout the continental USA, in England, in Greenland, in Japan. All over. As for our human females, they are enjoying an early puberty, starting around age eight. That’s so hot.

Well? Male alligators in Florida are turning up with shriveled testicles and high female-hormone counts. The phenomenon has been linked to phthalates, which are used in clear plastic drinking bottles -- water, Coke, Pepsi and so on. The specific actor is polyethylene terephthalate, PET. When the bottle gets a bit heated, as in a hot car, and the liquid has a plastic taste, that’s PET. All those plastic bottles from Disney World end up in the watershed and affect the alligators. Hmm. PETs act like female hormones. Girls testing as having high PET levels tend to enter puberty early. See? Six times higher levels means eight-year-olds with large breasts.

I saw something of this when I taught fifth graders some few years ago. Little boys, and a handful of ten year old girls with fully developed breasts. It’s very different than when I was a kid, and most likely when you were. In those days the boys were behind the girls by months, rather than years. By thirteen the girls where through puberty and the boys were entering. Now the lag time is three or four years. It’s not just PETs. It’s a lot of chemicals. Endosulfan, for example -- a major commercial pesticide -- was shown in 2003 to disrupt the onset of puberty in boys, by blocking the effects of testosterone and other androgens.

The actions of these industrial chemicals are overwhelmingly feminizing, and hasten puberty in girls, and delay and distort masculine development in boys. Seems like a problem to me. The plastic in baby bottles, for example, has been shown actually to damage male neonate animal brains, specifically in memory and motivation functions focused in the nucleus accumbens. The same damage does not occur in females. The males demonstrate less curiosity about their environments, and their activity profile strongly resembles that of control females. Strangely, females exposed to the same plastic demonstrate heightened activity, environmental curiosity, and increased learning ability. Again, the only relevant variable here is the plastic.

Ah well. Increased ADHD in boys. Decreased testosterone and semen levels than in my generation, lower sperm count, and endemic infertility. Genital malformations are up by three times; pregnant mothers who drink phthalates are ten times more likely to have boys with undescended testicles, or subaverage penis-size, or hypospadias (misplaced urethra terminus). No, it’s not funny.

From these specifics we might derive any number of insights, environmental, political, sociological, ethnographic. I won’t bother to flesh it out. I could talk about us planting the seeds of our own destruction, for all that there are fewer and fewer seeds. I could suggest that the underdeveloped moslems are outbreeding the West not only because we choose to have smaller families, but because we are not capable of having larger ones. I could point out that the rise of modern liberalism, so self-loathing/blameful and disloyal and irresponsible, might derive as much from biology as from philosophy. I might call it the End of Days.

Why bother? Everyone talks about history, but nobody does anything about it. Is there a solution? Well, first, is there a problem? Maybe it’s a good thing? We become extinct and save the planet from our pollution and global warming? We remove our unclean presence and leave the world to the purity of a certain desert faith? What after all has freedom given us? Melting icecaps and mutant fish. Yin yields to yang.

On the other hand, we might choose not to use clear plastics to drink from. We might wash our vegetables (don’t think meat-eating is the answer -- animal flesh stores such chemicals at an even higher density). It starts with being aware of the problem. After that one can choose to care, or not. If biologically generated motivation from out of a healthy nucleus accumbens is insufficient to make us care, perhaps ethics and a commitment to some intellectual ideal might do it. How would I know what could move you?

But that’s why I eat the way I do. Health matters for so many reasons. One young fella made his standard joke today about how healthful meat-eating is. One suspects he does know better. But it’s all so emotional. Emotion is not a free pass.

As usual, mine is an appeal to rationality. These are the facts, some of them. Do with them what you will.

Does the title of this post seem impenetrable to you? We did not know what the New Age would bring. The triumph of hippie values is brought about by the very thing they rebelled against. Corporate chemicals -- as opposed to hallucinogenic ones. Their feminine ethos triumphs against masculinity at the cost of infertility. The New Age is bringing not love, love, love, but sterility, deformity and extinction. What is the point of saving the planet, if we fail to save the baby boys?


1 comment:

Jack H said...

Somebody sent me this email, which I'm reproducing here anonymously, just in case anonymity was desired. I'm too intelligent and handsome to bother to ask him or her if s/he would like h/er/is name attached. I've also provided my response. All this, because the point raised is substantive.


You had me scared for a minute...but

Their experiments resulted in (worst case) 0.10 to 0.71 micro-grams/liter of DEHP. And they were cooking these bottles in the sun. Doesn't sound like much to me. And if this still turns out to be bad, what are we to do, trade polluted bottled water for polluted tap water? I got it, I'll buy bottled water but only from glass bottles...perrier?!? yuk.
- Will C.

More salve for the knee, (mind you it is from the makers of the stuff)

In a report on PET for food packaging applications issued in July of 2000, ILSI summarizes the large body of test data that demonstrates the safety of PET resins and compounds for food and beverage containers:

“PET itself is biologically inert if ingested, is dermally safe during handling and is not a hazard if inhaled. No evidence of toxicity has been detected in feeding studies using animals. Negative results from Ames tests and studies into unscheduled DNA synthesis indicate that PET is not genotoxic. Similar studies conducted with monomers and typical PET intermediates also indicate that these materials are essentially nontoxic and pose no threats to human health. . . . It is important to stress that the chemistry of compounds that are used to manufacture PET shows no evidence of oestrogenic activity. There is a significant body of evidence that demonstrates that the use of PET is not a concern and is perfectly safe in this respect.”4

4 Packaging Materials: 1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) for Food Packaging Applications. International Life Sciences Institute; 2000,
Washington, DC, p. 11.


And my response:

Well, you know how it goes. We can prove anything with facts. First we know there’s a difference, something different about now, than then. All these voluptuous children. Someday I’ll write something here about meat and its effects in this regard. As for wildlife:

Re wildlife, cf. Janet Raloff, “The Gender Benders: Are environmental hormones emasculating wildlife?” *Science News,* Jan 8, ’94;


--Louis J. Guillette Jr et al, “Developmental Abnormalities of the Gonad and Abnormal Sx Hormone Concentrations in Juvenile Alligators from Contaminated and Control Lakes in Florida,” *Environmental Health Perspectives*, vol. 102, pp. 680-688, 1994.

-- Charles F. Facemire et al, “Reproductive Impairment in the Florida Panther,” *EHP*, vol. 103, pp. 79-86, 1995.

The hormonal emasculation of male panthers is linked to plastic derivatives, phthalates and bisphenol A, in the watershed.

--Theo Colborn et al., “Developmental Effects of Endocrinal-Disrupting Chemicals on Wildlife and Humans,” *EHP,* v. 101, pp. 378 ff, 1993.

--Susan Jobling et al, “Widespread Sexual Disruption in Wild Fish,” *Environmental Science and Technology,* v. 32, pp. 2498 ff, 1998.

--Christian Sonne et al., “Xenoendochrine Pollutants May Reduce Size of Sexual Organs in East Greenland Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus),” *EST,* v. 40, pp. 5668 ff, 2006.

I’m sure you can adjust the experimental parameters to achieve some other effect than those cited, re baked plastics. The 0.10 to 0.71 micro-grams/liter of DEHP sounds like hardly anything at all, right? But in Puerto Rico, where the early puberty syndrome has been thoroughly documented, flat-chested little girls have blood levels of PETs of aprox. 86 parts per billion, while busty children have 512 ppb.

[Ivelisse Colon et al, “Identification of phthalate esters in the serum of young Puerto Rican girls with premature breast development,” *Environmental Health Perspectives,* v. 108, pp. 895, 2000.]

Six times. I don’t know how many billions of parts make up a liter -- something to do with moles? -- but now it sounds like 0.71 is a really high number to have to live with, especially every time you use a hot bottle.

And it’s not just about breasts. Boys and brains and suchlike. See the PDF at


-- “Chemical Used in Food Containers Disrupt Brain Development,” *Science Daily,* Dec 3, 2005.

There’s a lot more I could reference. Why bother. The upshot is, do what you can.