As birth rates in Western countries are continuing to decline since the Covid-19 pandemic, and Emmanuel Macron’s grand pledge to “rearm” French natality is causing quite a stir, we have to ask ourselves a question. Whose ‘fault’ is it that people are more and more reluctant to have babies? Even if the word “fault” is totally inappropriate here, as, for heaven’s sake, let’s set things straight once and for all: women are free to have agency over their wombs, and to choose to make love, but not to wage war! However, since human nature is always in need of an explanation or, better still, a culprit, we’re wondering if all this isn’t partly the fault of… global warming. Of course.


Too hot for your libido

Let’s start with a few basics on thermic, even if this may imply debunking a few preconceived ideas and fantasies in the process. Farniente, balmy evenings and carefree minds… yes, the summer period is often a time to indulge in all kinds of follies. But it turns out that in summer, especially when it’s very hot, we’re not all that caliente…at least not as much as in autumn, when temperatures drop in inverse proportion to libido and testosterone levels which reach record levels. Ever heard of the cocooning effect in sweatpants?

As for the heatwave, according to the French National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED), it’s a true “love killer”, with an up to 6%[1] drop in the number of births recorded in France nine months after each heatwave. So, it seems that when it’s too hot, we don’t feel much like “rearming”.


Eco-anxiety, the new contraception

Having a baby also necessarily means planning for the future (beyond the first year of sleepless nights, that is). And actually, the future of the planet and global warming aren’t exactly helping you keep your cool. So, there are obviously plenty of reasons why one might not want to become a parent – starting quite simply with just …not wanting to. But could climate change – and the eco-anxiety it generates among the vast majority of young adults[2] – have anything to do with the lack of enthusiasm among our no less valiant soldiers – the so-called Millennials and Gen Z – to re-arm?

Refusing to have a baby: the ultimate environmental gesture?

According to a study from University College London[3], there is a proven correlation between climate change and reproductive desire. Bingo! The people most concerned about climate change say they want fewer children, or none at all, like the new brigade of conscientious objectors: the GINKs (Green Inclination No Kid). These super activists are convinced that overpopulation of the planet has a considerable effect on global warming, and they refuse to contribute to the depletion of natural resources by giving birth to yet another consumer.


When global warming causes animal sterility

Beyond infertility as a conscious choice, what about that which is not? Could climate change affect fertility? While some researchers are already claiming that excessive exposure of human testicles to high temperatures reduces sperm quantity and therefore fertility, there is as yet no clear scientific consensus on the subject. For animals, however, there is. Pigs, ostriches, fish, bees, flies… their ability to procreate declines as temperatures rise. According to a team of researchers from the University of Liverpool[4], thermal infertility is a major threat to biodiversity against the backdrop of climate change, with half of all species likely to be affected.


Now is the time for ecological “rearming”

So, what’s the verdict – does global warming play a part in the decline in the birth rate? We’ll let you make up your own mind, but one thing is certain: it’s killing a lot of life on this planet. And that’s an issue of the utmost urgency. Isn’t it about time to “rearm” ecology?


[1] According to a study published in 2010 by Arnaud Régnier-Loilier, a demographer at the INED (National Institute for Demographic Studies), titled “Evolution of the seasonality of births in France from 1975 to the present.

[2] According to a study published in The Lancet, among 10,000 subjects from ten countries aged 16 to 25, 59% indicate being “very” or “extremely” concerned about the effects of climate change. Source:

[3] Dillarstone H, Brown LJ, Flores EC (2023), Climate change, mental health, and reproductive decision-making: A systematic review. PLOS Climate.

[4] The Impact of Climate Change on Fertility, Published: January 2019.

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