Lection Connection - Spirit Sightings

December 30, 2018: Universal Glory

From Paul Turley


Thanks to global warming, the world is experiencing more heatwaves. “The logic that climate change will do this is inescapable – the world is becoming warmer, and so heatwaves like this are becoming more common,” said Friederike Otto, at the University of Oxford.


While this is having a devastating impact on what crops can be grown where, a recent study is discovering that climate change is also affecting insect reproduction. Heatwaves are leaving male beetles “virtually sterilized” according to the study published in the Nature Communications journal. The research found that exposing beetles to a five-day heatwave in the laboratory reduced sperm production by three-quarters; females were unaffected.


“Beetles are thought to constitute a quarter of biodiversity, so these results are very important for understanding how species react to climate change,” said Kris Sales, at the University of East Anglia, who led the work.


Other research has shown that heat can damage male reproduction in humans as well as cows, sheep, and other mammals.


“There could be relevance for human fertility,” said Prof Matt Gage, co-leader of the UEA research group. “The paradox is that one of the reasons the climate is warming up and we are having more heatwaves is there are too many humans. So maybe this is a leveller.”


Other research has found that in the last 40 years the sperm count amongst Western men has fallen by more than half. While researchers aren’t yet sure why this is the case, this latest research into the fertility of beetles might point the finger at climate change and global warming.


While much research has been directed to sperm counts and fertility in warm-blooded creatures. Little has been done in cold-blooded creatures. “There is a big gap, as most of life on Earth is cold-blooded and it is much more directly affected by temperature variations,” said Gage. How the heat damages the sperm is not fully understood, though the researchers noticed damage to sperm membranes. It is likely that the DNA in the sperm is also damaged, meaning harm can be passed to offspring.


Explore… Psalm 148

  • What does it mean to you that Psalm 148 speaks to the elements of the earth asking them to respond?
  • In the midst of catastrophic climate change, how do we experience verse 6, “He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed”?
  • What can you do in your faith community to live into the experience of Psalm 148?



God of all the universe and all created things, we live in your abundant world with gratitude and with joy. May we live knowing that everything you have made is precious. May we live knowing ourselves to be an intricate and deep part of all that you have made. May we live with humility and care. Amen.



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