DEAR READERS: By fomenting fear, spreading false information and fostering prejudice and hatred, politicians and other leaders throughout history have facilitated the displacement, extinction or near-extinction of indigenous peoples and species alike.
Modern “wolves of Wall Street” continue these injustices, and not just in the United States. According to Associated Press reporter Sylvie Corbet, the U.S., Brazil, India and Russia have not yet joined the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. This is a collaborative effort initiated in 2019 by Costa Rica, France and the U.K. that aims to protect at least 30% of the planet by 2030 and halt the extinction of species. Fifty countries have since joined -- but not the major players listed above. Let us hope that the Biden administration will bring the U.S. into this long-overdue international initiative, and encourage other countries to follow suit.
On a related note, University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner acted as lead author on a compilation of 12 studies, done by dozens of scientists, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The report documents the ongoing apocalypse of the insects, which Wagner calls “absolutely the fabric by which Mother Nature and the tree of life are built.” Climate change, habitat loss, insecticides, herbicides and light pollution are just some of the causes of global insect declines.
DEAR DR. FOX: I love birds. When I watch a flock fly by, I wonder if they all know where they are headed. How do they navigate? -- A.C., Brick, New Jersey
DEAR A.C.: Sometimes birds do get blown off-course by inclement weather, or fly blindly into trees when alarmed by fireworks. As a rule, they rely on imprinted, instinctual navigation systems in their brains that involve various sensitivities, including the Earth’s electromagnetic field and the position of the stars when navigating at night.
Microparticles of iron in their brains act like an internal compass; humans, bees and other creatures possess the same. In 1992, researchers identified the presence of magnetite -- a permanently magnetic form of iron oxide -- in human brain tissue. Various studies have shown that brain cells respond to external magnetic fields. EMFs (electromagnetic fields and non-ionizing radiation) generated by telecommunication systems may interfere with bird navigation and migration.
Birds are sensitive to seasonal changes in the hours of sunlight, which can trigger hormonal changes associated with the onset of the breeding season or preparation to migrate. Birds may also have a conceptual map of distinctive landmarks. It is notable how Canada geese, for example, will often circle a lake a few times before landing just to make sure it is safe.
DEAR DR. FOX: A friend has a son who is highly allergic to cats. The son lives in another state and visits once a year, at most. He complains about his father letting a neighbor’s cat come into his home, even though the cats are not allowed on the furniture or beds.
Can cat dander remain in a home and cause problems many months later, or is the son being overly cautious? -- J.C., Trenton, New Jersey
DEAR J.C.: Allergens can linger, but there are steps your friend can take. Cats’ dried saliva collects in their fur when they groom themselves, and it is a protein in this substance that causes problems for those with allergies. Wiping down cats with a moist sponge morning and evening can help those with mild respiratory and skin-contact allergic reactions. Spreading cotton sheets on furniture where cats like to lie and laundering them every few days can also help reduce the amount of dander in the home, along with a good air-filtration system.
All in all, having a cat or dog in the home helps reduce the incidence of allergies and infections (and therefore antibiotic use) in children. Dogs are of particular benefit because they get outdoors and bring home a variety of bacteria in their paw-pads. With exposure earlier in life, many children become desensitized.
MIDWESTERN PET FOOD EXPANDS DEADLY AFLATOXIN RECALL
“On Jan. 11, Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. expanded its recent recall to include all dry kibble pet food products containing corn that were made in the firm’s Oklahoma plant that expire on or before July 9, 2022. More than 1,000 lot codes are affected.”
Aflatoxin is a toxic, liver-damaging mold, and in this instance, at least 70 dogs have died and over 80 became ill.
(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.)