Global warming will have a variety of effects on our planet, yet it may also directly impact our human biology, research suggests.
Specifically, climate change could alter the proportion of male and female newborns, with more boys born in places where temperatures rise and fewer boys born in places with other environmental changes, such as drought or wildfire caused by global warming.
A recent study in Japan found a link between temperature fluctuations and a lower male-to-female sex ratio at birth, with conceptions of boys especially vulnerable to external stress factors.
[Summer 2018, researcher Misao] Fukuda and his colleagues published a separate study looking at births in areas hit by environmental events that caused extreme stress.
Nine months after these disasters, the proportion of male babies born in these prefectures declined by between 6% and 14% from the previous year. This data supports the idea that major stress affects gestation, which in turn alters the newborn sex ratio.
[Professor Ray] Catalano’s concern, though, is evolution. “Humans are incredibly adaptable, we got through the Great Ice Age,” he said, so he has no fears that we will adapt to climate change.
“What will we be after that adaption? We will be different,” he said. “Climate change is going to change the characteristics of the population in ways that maybe can’t be anticipated.”
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