DEAR READERS: I was stunned that a severely deformed dog -- who had great difficulty breathing and walking, and had several facial and other deformities that jeopardize his quality of life, and likely that of all his offspring -- won the 2019 Westminster dog show, promoted by Purina.
The dog is a bulldog named Thor. I also noted many breeds with cropped ears and docked tails, but Thor’s deformities -- shared by other breeds, like the Pekingese, French bulldog and pug -- are a sad reflection of how many people have become so accepting of such things. These deformities can be life-threatening and may require veterinary intervention, while these dogs’ owners parade them around in public as though nothing is wrong.
DEAR DR. FOX: Looking at the extinction crisis worldwide reveals that the extinction of not just the animals is occurring, but also the human race.
It isn’t just climate change but also the pollution of the air, water and soil that continues to increase daily. Plastics in the oceans, pesticides and other poisons will doom life as humans have experienced it on this tiny planet in a tiny solar system. Species come and go, with most already gone. Humans are on that path, and humans will, by their nature, continue to destroy their environment. It’s already too late. -- R.Q. Tulsa, Oklahoma
DEAR R.Q.: Many people feel as you do. Such environmental pessimism, along with the interconnected global problems of political, economic and social turmoil, is making people feel despair, depression and existential angst. I believe this also contributes to the nihilism of terroristic movements and mass shootings.
Tragic indeed. The evident nihilism behind the Trump regime’s actions -- gutting the Environmental Protection Agency, rolling back clean air and water standards and regulations, and giving the fuel, timber and mining industries free access to protected wildlands -- is another form of terrorism, which civil society must continue to fight against.
I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a realist who may join apocalyptarians and “rage, rage against the dying of the light” (as poet Dylan Thomas wrote). Yet I do what I can within my personal and professional spheres to reduce my “carbon footprint”: I eat as a vegetarian; adopt and shelter animals; tend a wild garden free of pesticides; and help others to move from paralytic despair to some beneficial actions that contribute to planetary CPR (conservation, protection and restoration).
We can all support humane and organic farming practices and vote for those whose economic, social and political goals are consonant with such essential, and still possible, principles of planetary and cultural CPR.
CLEANING UP OUR WATER
The disturbing report that 56% of state waters are “impaired” in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is the tip of the iceberg nationally. Contaminants from conventional agriculture not considered by this agency include insecticidal toxins produced by genetically modified corn and soy, which are also genetically resistant to glyphosate and other widely applied herbicides. Also, neonicotinoid insecticides are widely used on seeds, and glyphosate is sprayed on crops to accelerate pre-harvest drying.
All these pesticides harm aquatic life, depleting and contaminating the food source (microorganisms and aquatic insects and their larvae) of fish and other animals higher up the food-chain -- including us. Neonicotinoids in agricultural runoff have been recently documented as causing fishing industry collapse in some coastal areas in Japan.
It is time to address the use of such chemicals in commodity crop production in particular, mainly to feed livestock and poultry and for export abroad since their long-term adverse environmental consequences, negative impact on biodiversity and potential risks to consumer health can no longer be denied.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)