'Existential dread': Climate change is hurting people’s sex lives
The Summer of 2023 has had no shortage of extreme weather events underscoring the dangers of climate change.
In June, smoke from wildfires in Quebec, Canada was so severe that it drifted south and created unhealthy air quality in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C. and other U.S. cities. And July has brought everything from severe flooding in Vermont and the Philadelphia suburbs (where five people were killed in Bucks County) to heatwaves and wildfires in Southern Europe and North Africa. Rome, Italy reached a record high of 108F.
Climate change is the focus of two articles published by The New Republic on July 27: a Julia Sonenshein report on the effect climate change is having on people's sex lives, and a Pablo Manríquez piece slamming Republicans in Congress for being indifferent to climate change's effects.
Sonenshein reports, "In climate change, we face an unimaginable threat to humanity. As humans do, however, we're living through it: We're working, we're cooking dinner, we're seeing friends, and we're having sex. But sex is changing. Birth rates are down, and some people who are forgoing parenthood cite climate change as a factor."
Meehan Crist, who teaches biological science at Columbia University in New York City, told The New Republic that climate change is creating an "existential dread" that affects "mental health" along with "sexuality."
According to Sonenshein, "There is alarming evidence that climate change both directly and indirectly impacts our sexual health, including due to increased gender-based violence or disruptions in sexual or reproductive services because of extreme weather. There also exists a body of writing on the logistics of climate change and sex: It's getting hotter, so sex might become a more uncomfortable, sweatier affair."
Sonenshein adds, "But a thornier question, perhaps, is to ask how intimacy is changing in the face of impending doom. How is desire affected when the world as we know it seems to be ending in front of our eyes?"
In his article, Manríquez reports that GOP members of Congress who The New Republic contacted didn't view recent extreme weather as something to be worried about. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana), Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tennessee) and Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-Florida) essentially said that summer is always hot in the South. But their comments overlooked the fact that climate change is making extreme weather events both more severe and more frequent.
It's true that wildfires, heatwaves and droughts in California, hurricanes in Florida, tornadoes in Kansas and Oklahoma, and blizzards in Buffalo existed long before climate change. But climate change, according to scientists, is making them more plentiful.
"Triple-digit heat indices continued from California to Florida as House Republicans returned to Capitol Hill from their recent recess to advance a proposal to slash funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by 39 percent," Manríquez reports. "The agency enforces environmental regulations the GOP is obsessed with gutting on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, which, combined, has spent over $100 million on lobbying annually since 2008, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets. Last year, Republicans received nearly five times as much as Democrats in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry."
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