No, Climate Change Probably Isn’t Killing Your Sex Life

We all know climate change is a hot topic (no pun intended), especially with global leaders preparing to head to Paris in a few weeks to discuss global measures to reduce climate change. So when a new study claimed climate change might cause people to have less sex was released, the media pounced. Headlines ranged from “Could Climate Change Mean Less Sex and Fewer Babies?” to “Climate Change is Literally a Boner Killer” to “Mother Nature: Just one Giant Cock Block.”

The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), argues there is a link between higher temperatures and lower “coital frequency” (less sex). There are many reasons to worry about climate change. However, common sense tells us there’s not much reason to worry warmer temperatures will dissuade individuals from having sex.

Consider the countries with the highest birthrates:

  1. Niger
  2. Mali
  3. Uganda
  4. Zambia
  5. Burkina Faso
  6. Burundi
  7. Malawi
  8. Somalia
  9. Angola
  10. Mozambique

All of these countries are in Africa, which also considered to be the hottest continent thanks to a terrain comprised largely of deserts and dry lands. Of course, just because many African countries are hot and many African countries top world birth rate rankings doesn’t disprove NBER’s study—this isn’t really what researchers examined.

In NBER’s study, they looked at the number of “hot days,” basically heat waves, and the birth rate nine months later to see whether heat waves resulted in fewer children. They then used a climate change modeling scenario to predict a 2.6 percent decline in the United States’ birth rate by 2100.

Statistics indicate Americans have more sex in cooler weather—the summer is consistently the most popular time for babies to be born. But the NBER authors of this report didn’t find enough evidence that hotter days were actually causing Americans to forgo sex. The study didn’t look at the many other reasons American birthrates may be falling—like socioeconomic factors. In fact, the authors note: “this positive relationship cannot be used to infer causal effects.”

Linking sex and climate change might make for some seriously racy headlines, but of all the reasons to worry about climate change, lower birthrates isn’t one of them.