IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Can shrinking masculinity finally get Tucker Carlson to care about climate change?

Imagine if instead of using his platform to push pseudo-science onto impressionable men, Carlson promoted the science that already exists.
Photo collage: Image of human sperm cells, Tucker Carlson and a screen grab showing two men cycling.
Tucker Carlson is very concerned about his perceived downfall of manliness.MSNBC / Getty Images; Fox

Fox News host Tucker Carlson took a break from praising Russian President Vladimir Putin to tease a trailer for his new season of “Tucker Carlson Originals,” a digital series on Fox News' streaming channel. The trailer dives into an episode of the series called “The End of Men,” which focuses on the pressing topic of dwindling testosterone levels and is filled with a lot of male nudity, wrestling and egg-white chugging.

This isn't the first time Carlson has brazenly exploited men’s insecurities about the loss of their dominance at the hands of feminism and social progress.

An excerpt features Carlson talking to Andrew McGovern, an Ohio-based “fitness professional” who recommends a questionable type of medicine he calls “bromeopathic” medicine. This school of thought includes something he refers to as “testicle tanning,” depicted in the trailer as a bright red light shining on the body of a naked man standing on some sort of rock. “It’s testicle tanning, but it’s also full-body red-light therapy, which has a massive amount of benefits,” McGovern says in the clip. “And there’s so much data out there that isn’t being picked up on or covered.”

While this isn't the first time Carlson has brazenly exploited men’s insecurities about the loss of their dominance at the hands of feminism and social progress, this overt focus on their fluctuating hormones feels different. But it isn’t exactly new; Carlson appears to be taking a page taken from regressive anti-feminist male spaces like the “manoshere,” an online community whose members obsessively warn men to check and increase their levels of testosterone.

But Carlson using hormones to scare men is a sly strategy because it is rooted in some truth.

“Over the past several decades, both testosterone levels and sperm counts have declined meaningfully,” Khaled Kteily, the founder of Legacy, a male fertility service that offers sperm testing and freezing, told me. “We know that your sperm quality, for example, is a biomarker of your overall health. And when sperm counts are down more than 50 percent in the past 40 years, that suggests that we are less healthy than ever before.”

Kteily said this dip can be explained by lifestyle changes like the fact that we are increasingly more stressed and get less sleep, but it’s also due to our shifting environment and the lack of regulation around it.

“Since the Second World War, hundreds of new chemicals came onto the market within a very short time frame,” Kteily said. “These chemicals were entering our bloodstream for the first time with almost no federal oversight, forethought or planning. As a result, today the CDC has determined that every single person in the United States has a measurable level of phthalates in their body.”

While Carlson has called climate change a conspiracy to shrink babies, it’s probably more accurate to say that it’s contributing to shrinking men’s manhood.

Endocrine disruptors like phthalates and bisphenol, which are found in everyday products like plastic containers and cleaning products, are associated with decreased sperm counts and even penis size. According to epidemiologist Shanna Swan in her book "Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race," more regulations could help, but the Food and Drug Administration hasn’t moved on banning phthalates despite public pressure to do so. According to a 2019 study by the University of Newcastle, in Australia, the average person could be ingesting 5 grams of plastic per week, which is the equivalent of eating a credit card every seven days, so of course this impacts men’s bodies.

So while Carlson has called climate change a conspiracy to shrink babies, it’s probably more accurate to say it’s contributing to shrinking men’s manhood.

“Researchers have argued that rising temperature levels are making us less fertile,” Kteily said. “We already know this to be true in certain species, like in fruit flies. We also know that heat negatively affects spermatogenesis in males. It's not a huge logical leap to assume that as temperatures rise, overall male fertility could decrease as well.”

If Carlson really cares about male fertility, he could start by acknowledging that climate change is real and calling for more governmental regulations to put an end to it, as well as for penalizing corporations that sell us products that release dangerous chemicals.

Rather than seeing men as needing to reclaim their power, Carlson would do better to help men get in touch with their vulnerabilities. While women are hounded about their biological clock, it turns out that men have one, too. As they enter their 30s, most men begin to experience a gradual yet steady decline in testosterone. Fertility is seen as a women’s issue, but it’s a big issue for men, too.

While Carlson likes to humiliate men who are vegans, a better diet could actually help men get their fertility under control.

“For someone who cares about their sperm quality, they should focus on making lifestyle changes,” Kteily said. “Eating a Mediterranean diet, eating more nuts, exercising a moderate amount, cutting out cigarettes and keeping away from the sauna, among other pieces of advice.”

Helping men eat healthier instead of mocking better food policy could make a difference.

What if instead of using his platform to push pseudoscience onto impressionable men, Carlson promoted the science supporting men’s health that already exists?