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Never mind climate change, there are plenty of other threats to human existence which appear to have been sidelined in the debate about global warming. Barbara Panvel investigates.

The climate change wake-up call has at last been heard - twenty years after perceptive observers pointed out the signs - but there are less obviously dramatic threats to survival.

In the Fifties the great concern was to avoid unwanted pregnancy, but now - as Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, stated - one in six couples in this country have fertility problems and medical specialists have noted that the average man’s sperm count is almost half the level it was sixty years ago.

If a child is conceived it still has to cope with the oestrogen in our water supply, mercury in vaccines, along with the fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides used in growing food, and food additives and radiation from a variety of sources.

Though scientists have for many years written reports about the damage done to human health by pesticides, food additives, other chemicals and radiation, the scientific findings do not pierce the thick veil of vested interest and are actually opposed by government bodies such as DEFRA and industrial organisations such as BNFL.

Accounts of cancer clusters around British nuclear stations have been dismissed many times, but in US counties 40 miles downwind of nuclear reactors there has been a 17.4% fall in infant mortality and a 25% drop in childhood cancer in the two years following the closure of eight nuclear reactors.

However, powerful vested interests want to prevent the fall in profits which would happen if dangerous chemicals are withdrawn and subsidised nuclear stations are closed, so health will continue to be affected.

Writer and analyst Jeremy Seabrook notes wryly that money is breeding but people are becoming sterile. He quotes the fear expressed to him by physicist Rosalie Bertell that the gene pool of humanity may have been affected.

In the words of leading infertility specialist Dr Simon Fishnel: “the nightmare scenario of the human race waking one morning and realising it cannot reproduce is not just scaremongering. If we carry on like this it will be a reality”.

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