Stay on target Watch: Dolphin Leaps Feet Away From Unsuspecting SurferNASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This Weekend In Margaret Atwood’s fictional Republic of Gilead, women are the focus of the infertility crisis. In real life, men may be to blame.Researchers this week reported a steep decline in sperm counts among males living in richer nations.Data culled from 185 different studies suggest a 52.4 percent downturn in sperm concentration between 1973 and 2011. And during the same time, a 59.3 percent drop in average sperm count produced by men from North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.Conversely, scientists found “no significant trends” among folks from South America, Asia, and Africa. But while fewer studies have been conducted in these countries, there is a chance for a similar slip in non-Western locations.“Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the cause of the sharp, ongoing drop,” lead researcher Hagai Levine, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told New Scientist.Not only is a reduced sperm count bad news for future generations: It can predict increased mortality and morbidity, and is sometimes associated with birth defects and testicular cancer.Environmental influences (exposure to chemicals/pesticides, heat) and lifestyle factors (diet, stress, smoking, weight, alcohol consumption) have previously been linked to lower sperm counts. (The jury is still out on the boxers-versus-briefs debate.)For nearly four decades, more than half of men’s little swimmers have withered and died, with no recent evidence of “leveling off,” according to the study. “These findings strongly suggest a significant decline in male reproductive health, which has serious implications beyond fertility concerns,” the researchers wrote.“A decline in sperm count might be considered as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for male health across the lifespan,” the paper continued. “Our report of a continuing and robust decline should, therefore, trigger research into its cause, aiming for prevention.”Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.