Just watched a very disturbing documentary, how scared should I be?
December 28, 2008 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Just watched a very disturbing documentary, how scared should I be?

The documentary is called The Disappearing Male (on Youtube / Google Video as well).

I'm a bit paranoid. Should I be throwing out all clear plastics and switch to glass and paper where possible? What about Ziploc and other plastic bags? What can I do about shampoo and deodorant?

Further reading:

It's official: Men really are the weaker sex
and
Aamjiwnaang First Nation (as mentioned in the documentary)
posted by querty to Science & Nature (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you should try to be careful about heating them, especially if they are meant for children. As for deoderant, I like Tom of Maine. It has no sweat protection, but I'm okay with that. It's odor that matters.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:15 PM on December 28, 2008


I haven't watched the documentary, but I will. Thanks for the CBC link, I had no idea DocZone started to put stuff online! One of the few triumphs for TV on the web in Canada!

As for how scared you should be. Personally, as to how it affects your life, I would say life's too short to be scared of that. Not saying it's not an important issue, but if you can't do anything personally about it, then don't let it overwhelm you. Some may say this is an avoidance tactic, and sure, it is, but we all do it everyday or we'd never get anything done. There's just too much out there to be scared of.

If it is scaring you, enough that you feel you need to stand up against those responsible (and by the doc description it would be a lot of corporations and people who probably had very little if any idea of what their products were doing), then by all means speak out and get involved.

So should you be scared? Practically, no. But if it's bugging you so much you want to devote a sizable portion of your life to learning about and fighting to right the issue, then go ahead. The best deeds probably start from such experiences, but it takes a lot of work to set things right.
posted by yellowbinder at 2:19 PM on December 28, 2008


Don't be scared, these apocalypses never happen.
posted by johngoren at 2:26 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The human race will go extinct. In the long view, there really isn't any doubt about it. But it'll almost certainly happen after you're dead.
posted by box at 2:28 PM on December 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


Is your concern the direct possible effect to you? Don't worry at all.

To your future children? Read up a bit about it but don't panic.

The long-term effect on humanity? Read up in depth. Ask a few people some awkward questions. Tell everyone you know.

The effect on non-human species? Panic.
posted by nthdegx at 2:36 PM on December 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


It'll never effect even your kids, we can always make people by cloning, etc., and your great great great grandkids will be made of silicon. As usual, the real tragedy is the lose of all the genetic information contained in the effected non-human species, as nthdegx said. You never know what amazing biological tricks had been developed by evolution over thousands of years and existed only in some species of frogs that just died out.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:45 PM on December 28, 2008


@nthdegx

Your 4 questions are arguably the same; if it's affecting me, then it'll snowball onto future generations.

All my friends are having baby daughters. I just want a baby boy.
posted by querty at 3:04 PM on December 28, 2008


I don't think the male to female birth ratio has dropped at all it's about 105 boys for every 100 girls. You would never see something like every kid being born a girl. At the worst you would see that ratio drop slightly to like 99 or something. You'd still have almost equal chance to have a male baby then a female one. And I doubt even that.

Besides, one man can impregnate dozens of women, so actually the ratio dosn't need to be very high at all.
posted by delmoi at 3:23 PM on December 28, 2008


querty - "All my friends are having baby daughters." is called "anecdotal evidence" and should be taken with a grain of salt.
posted by Echidna882003 at 3:34 PM on December 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


The plural of anecdote is not data, as they say.
posted by Dysk at 3:35 PM on December 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


awesome deodorant(crystal) seriously, it lasts over a year and works great (coming from an overweight sweaty person, i never smell any body odor) and it only has 2 ingredients.
posted by thylacine at 3:43 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the cutting edge of fertility treatments, doctors can develop several embryos and determine their sex by chromosome, so in theory, this could be reversed, especially if it became such an issue biomedical engineers developed tools to automate this specific solution. Right now, it's ethically mired, as it's the first step towards "designer babies," but if it becomes the solution to a biological inequality brought on by human pollution, people may be more accepting. I think there's a university in Florida that has done this.

But this is pie in the sky speculation. Delmoi's statistic shows there's very little to be worried about, and you need to consider that your own anecdotal evidence is not proof of a larger trend. I hate to sound harsh or skeptical, but you may be only selectively paying attention to the children around you, subconsciously trying to confirm that the documentary is accurate, and you are right to worry.

I really don't want to sound condescending, but you might be displacing an emotion. Is there a major change coming soon in your life? Did something bad happen? Are you worrying about this instead of that change or the bad event? If so, once you work out the event, you should be able to think about the disturbing concept more calmly. I only suggest this, as I have been there before in my life and it was horrible. I don't want you to suffer if it is the case, so I'm just throwing that out there.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:48 PM on December 28, 2008


I'm a bit paranoid. Should I be throwing out all clear plastics and switch to glass and paper where possible? What about Ziploc and other plastic bags? What can I do about shampoo and deodorant?

If you are planning on having a child, I think it would be good to try and switch out unnecessary plastics in the kitchen, and check out what kind of plastic your plastic items are made from. I still have all my plastic tupperware and ziplocs, because they are really very useful for storing and refrigerating food. However I try to avoid heating anything in plastic containers, I take it out of the plastic container and dump it into a ceramic bowl.

When you do have your child, look into pthalates and BPA, those are the current bugaboos in the parenting community. As a non-scientist I consider it impossible to tell whether any fears are well-founded or hysterical, so I take the attitude that I modify my behaviour where its reasonably feasible (ie buying BPA-free bottles is easy) and don't panic. If its easy for you to buy a different (more natural) brand of shampoo and deodorant from the supermarket, then do so, because it will put your mind at rest and you can consider it insurance against the risk that we really do have a coming plastic-led apocalypse. But don't drive yourself insane trying to make your whole life plastic free, I think that would be overly expensive and burdensome. Everything is a little bit bad for you, so I try to adopt the "everything in moderation" mantra to plastics, chemicals, germs and dirt, as well as food :)
posted by Joh at 3:55 PM on December 28, 2008


Before you watched the documentary, you were surrounded by invisible things that might affect you. Even though you now know of one more category of invisible thing that might effect you, there are probably others out there, too. Are you worried that you aren't worried about them?

Honestly, worry accomplishes nothing, IMO. Individual action does only slightly more. Now that you have some more info, act according to how significant you think the thing is, but do not lose too much sleep over it. This particular issue of persistent environmental endocrine disrupters has been out there a while. Our Stolen Future presented it to the layman almost a decade ago in book form, but lots of babies have been born since.

There is little short term likelihood of human extinction. In your lifetime, we will just travel down the road to our collective ruin a little further, and who's to say which of our planetary insults will be most to blame? Deforestation, pollution, global warming, chemical waste, overpopulation, nuclear war, conventional war, emergent diseases, invasive species, ozone depletion, genetic engineering... they're all vying for top slot.
posted by FauxScot at 4:22 PM on December 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Thanks FauxScot. I guess iPhone, computers, microwaves are killing me as well... but we won't know how bad until 20 to 30 years down the road.

IMPORTANT! The 5:00~6 minute mark of: www.storyofstuff.com also mentions the chemical industries. Can somebody post storyofstuff.com to the front page? It hasn't been submitted before.
posted by querty at 9:39 PM on December 28, 2008


querty - my husband was sure we were going to have a girl, because of environmental factors. I worried about plastic leaching during my pregnancy and did my best to cut out and limit things that I was able to.

We had a boy. Most of my friends who were pregnant this year had boys, and most of the moms in my playgroup have boys. It's all who you know :-)
posted by pinky at 10:33 PM on December 28, 2008


I suspect that if you regularly drive a car, it's silly to worry about this, without first making further progress with the elephants in the room (driving, etc).

You have limited resources (time, energy, money), direct them at low-hanging fruit, where you get the most bang per buck/minute/sweat. You live in a plastic world. I may be wrong, but I suspect that changing that (in any non-token way) is in the really-high-hanging fruit category.

It is in our nature that exotic threats capture our attention much more than mundane yet greater threats (familiarity breeds contempt), but acting against the greater threats provides the greater security for lower cost.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:36 AM on December 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is in our nature that exotic threats capture our attention much more than mundane yet greater threats

See also: the avian flu pandemic that never happened.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:05 AM on December 29, 2008


your great great great grandkids will be made of silicon

I wouldn't be so quick to consign carbon to the remainders bin.
posted by flabdablet at 5:49 AM on December 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks FauxScot. I guess iPhone, computers, microwaves are killing me as well... but we won't know how bad until 20 to 30 years down the road.

Dude, I hate to break it to you, but you're almost certainly going to die no matter what you do. In fact, in the coming decades your body is going to degrade quite a bit. Again, regardless of what you do. Before modern society, most people only lived to 35 or so, so while on the balance modernity may be causing some problems, it nearly triples the average person's lifespan.
posted by delmoi at 11:26 PM on December 30, 2008


All my friends are having baby daughters. I just want a baby boy.

Well, unless you are planning on intervening in the usual process in some (possibly ethically dubious) way, it´s the luck of the draw. If you would never want to raise a daughter, maybe you shouldn´t have kids yourself. You could adopt a baby boy who is already born, and be sure of having a baby boy.

Can somebody post storyofstuff.com to the front page?

Why yes, somebody can! I nominate you.
posted by yohko at 11:47 AM on January 2, 2009


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