The environmental story of the year has come out, but the “inconvenient truth”—to borrow a phrase from Al Gore--seems to be more than most environmentalists can handle.
Professor David Norris' study found the ratio of female to male fish downstream of the Colorado sewage plant, which is suspected to be the source of the estrogen contamination, was 8:1. The ordinary ratio is 1:1.
The cause? Woodling and Norris traced the unnatural feminization of the fish to estrogen—the female hormone—that they found in samples from Boulder Creek. The concentrations of estrogen were not large. Indeed, they were barely measurable. Yet they had a catastrophic impact on the fish population there.
Where is this estrogen coming from? After further study, Woodling and Norris concluded that it is coming from human sources, primarily birth-control pills, Norplant, Depo-Provera and birth control patches that contain estrogen. These drugs and devices work by secreting massive doses—up to four hundred times the natural levels--of female hormones into a woman’s bloodstream to suppress her natural reproductive rhythm.
These hormones are not metabolized, however. Rather, they are simply excreted in her urine, which is then sent down the sewer to the local water-treatment plant. Such plants are not equipped to deal with hormones, so the “purified” water released into surrounding rivers and streams is laced with estrogen.
“It’s the first thing that I’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me,” Woodling told the Denver Post in 2005. "It's one thing to kill a river. It's another thing to kill nature. If you're messing with the hormonal balance in your aquatic community, you're going deep down. You're twiddling with how life proceeds."
One would expect that environmentalists, quick to attack perceived threats to nature, would be up in arms. Yet there have been no calls to ban these hormonal pollutants, or even to install safeguards to protect the water supply. Instead, the entire environmental movement has seemingly been gripped with paralysis of the larynx.
Those few who have spoken up have blamed “estrogen mimickers,” that is, chemicals in some soaps and detergents that can fool the body into reacting as if they were estrogen. While Woodling and Norris are aware that these mimickers may be partly responsible for the freak fish they found, they are adamant that the primary cause is the profuse use of hormonal birth control methods in the Denver and Boulder area. Other studies, conducted in places as far away as Switzerland, have confirmed that the problem is widespread, and may be growing worse.
We at PRI are not surprised at the silence from the environmentalist camp. Most radical environmentalists are pro-abortion and espouse population control. The last thing they would criticize are the contraceptive drugs that help them achieve both goals.
Yet the downside of these drugs has never been more apparent. Laissez-faire contraceptive use has given us increased promiscuity, higher rates of abortion, and dramatic health risks. Now it is becoming clear that it is slowly poisoning the environment around us as well.
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