DEAR DR. FOX: This will always be my favorite quote because of the truth of it. It is from Albert A. Bartlett (1923-2013), professor of nuclear physics at the University of Colorado: "Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted or advanced by further increases in population -- locally, nationally or globally?" -- V.L.C., Wellington, Florida
DEAR V.L.C.: Precisely said! Regrettably, we are in a situation now with millions of environmentally, economically and politically disenfranchised migrants and refugees.
The U.N. Biodiversity Conference in Montreal last month, also known as COP15, succeeded in securing nonbinding agreements from close to 200 countries to protect 30% of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by 2030. Signatories agreed to take steps to halt species extinctions, protect 30% of the planet for nature, restore 30% of degraded ecosystems and reform $500 billion in subsidies that encourage environmental damage. (Full story: CNN, Dec. 19; The Guardian, Dec. 19)
The main drivers of environmental destruction identified at the conference were agriculture, overfishing, logging, mining, climate change, invasive species and overall pollution. But missing from this list, at least to my knowledge, is the issue of population growth. The human population is now being estimated at 8 billion.
Perhaps this omission was a combination of amnesia, denial and politics, but the fact remains: Humans are the most invasive and destructive of all species. Many COP15 delegates and attendees were not even born when this issue was first raised by the Club of Rome's first report, "Limits to Growth," published in 1972. Widely publicized to world leaders and governments, the report showed that economic growth could not continue indefinitely because of resource depletion. It underscored that economic growth meant greater environmental impact, and that the main path to environmental restoration was the reduction of both population and consumption.
But now we face what scientists and conservationists call the sixth mass extinction: the Anthropocene apocalypse, the severity of which we may still be able to minimize, given the will and the means. Climate change and loss of biodiversity will lead to ever more famines, plagues and pestilences if we fail to act now. For some excellent information, go to sentientmedia.org.
The U.S. government and the Vatican declined to sign the COP15 agreement, and representatives from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda expressed disagreement. The non-signing by the Vatican reminds me of their centuries-long opposition to all forms of contraception other than abstinence -- which certainly helped increase family sizes in Catholic communities around the world.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a 17-year-old cat who has developed diabetes. Kitty was very healthy and active when I moved to Maine two years ago, but her immune system seemed to collapse when the vets here insisted on giving her an annual rabies shot. I had asked that they be mercury- and aluminum-free.
She is an indoor cat: There are too many ticks here that spread illnesses from Lyme to anaplasmosis. She received some tick bites during the few times we let her outside two years ago. She had no visible reaction to the bites, but I stopped letting her out, even briefly.
She nearly died last year when she first developed diabetes, but she came back strong with a new diet of Wellness brand canned cat food and some frozen raw food containing turkey, salmon, lamb and other ingredients. I give her potassium and minerals as supplements.
Lately she is getting very fussy; she has greatly slowed her eating and is losing weight. She is drinking a lot of water. Do you have any food recommendations to heal her and strengthen her? The vets stopped giving her vaccines because she is now too frail. -- G.C., Harpswell, Maine
DEAR G.C.: Your old cat's declining condition was most likely exacerbated by the rabies vaccinations, which the vet did not have to insist upon since your cat is (now) always indoors. Please note that I am not some antivaxxer, but a veterinarian with 60 years of experience dealing with a variety of animal health and welfare issues.
Diagnosed early, diabetes can be resolved by a change in diet -- essentially, no more high-carbohydrate dry kibble, which many veterinarians are still selling in their clinics.
Lack of appetite is serious for cats, since it can lead to fatty liver disease. Try to coax her to eat several times a day with high-protein foods such as canned sardines in water (watch her closely, as some cats are allergic to fish); shredded, boiled chicken or turkey; or any organically certified meaty baby food you can find. (Another word of caution: Many common baby food brands contain heavy metals and other contaminants not fit for babies or cats!) Or make something in a food processor, perhaps based on my home-prepared cat food recipe, which is posted on drfoxonehealth.com. Adding a pinch of Bragg's nutritional yeast or a small piece of a crushed B-complex vitamin to the food may help stimulate appetite.
My book "The Healing Touch for Cats" may help stimulate your cat's circulation and with gentle, deep abdominal massage, help with digestion and evacuation. Most cats respond very positively to such treatment. Above all, make your cat feel as secure and comfortable as possible.
(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.)