DEAR READERS: In June, France's President Emmanuel Macron held a Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris. The event aimed to find financial solutions to interlinked global crises such as climate change and poverty. The summit brought together more than 50 heads of state, along with world finance officials and activists.
These crises would undoubtedly benefit from curtailing population growth through more effective family planning -- a topic I was stunned that Macron made no mention of, in his June 25 interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. The expanding human and farmed animal biomass is a major contributor to climate change, poverty and loss of biodiversity. Clearly, for political and other reasons, discussing the overpopulation of people and farmed animals is off the agenda. But it should not be.
All should look at the numbers:
-- The United Nations has projected that the world population, 8 billion as of 2023, would peak at about 10.4 billion around the year 2086.
-- Globally, an estimated 70 billion farm animals are reared for food each year, and about two-thirds of them are reared on factory farms.
-- There are some 900 million dogs across the world, almost 85% being free-range.
-- As of 2021, the number of owned cats in the world was estimated to be 220 million, while the number of stray cats was estimated to be 480 million.
-- Monitored populations of vertebrates (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish) have seen a devastating 69% drop on average since 1970, according to World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report 2022.
Larger families and expanding communities need more livestock and land for grazing and for food and cash crops, further harming wildlife and reducing biodiversity, now all imperiled by climate change. Decades before the burning of fossil fuels became a major factor in climate change, I witnessed the devastating ecological consequences of livestock overgrazing, corporate plantations and deforestation for firewood in Kenya, Tanzania and India.
Scientists have documented five prior mass extinctions of life on planet Earth, and are ringing alarm bells about the sixth extinction event, which is now gaining momentum. This is not alarmist eco-panic, but reality -- one being reported worldwide and experienced by communities in the form of increasingly severe and frequent extreme climatic events.
For more details and potential short- and long-term solutions, see my post: drfoxonehealth.com/post/the-anthropocene-extinction-crisis.
Whatever political will can be mustered internationally should give equal priority to social justice, economic justice, animal rights and environmental justice. The courts must recognize crimes against nature as they do crimes against humanity.
Economist and environmental activist Paul Hawken opined: "At present we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it gross domestic product. We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing the future instead of stealing it. We can either create assets for the future or take the assets of the future. One is called restoration and the other exploitation. And whenever we exploit the Earth, we exploit people and cause untold suffering. Working for the Earth is not a way to get rich, it is a way to be rich."
The fundamentally spiritual and ethical roots of this existential crisis need to be recognized. Until we have respect for all life and apply the golden rule to all our relationships, human and nonhuman, chaos and suffering will continue and intensify.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE GLOBAL ONE HEALTH INITIATIVE
DEAR DR. FOX: Some of your readers, especially veterinarians, health care professionals, environmentalists and conservationists, will be interested in a piece appearing in the June edition of the World Medical Journal, the official journal of The World Medical Association, Inc.
"One Medicine-One Health: An Historic Perspective" begins on page 18 of the document (wma.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/WMJ_2023_02_final.pdf). -- Bruce Kaplan, DVM; Sarasota, Florida; content manager/editor, OneHealthInitiative.com
DEAR B.K.: Many thanks for giving us these educational and inspiring connections to this global movement. It must become part of public policy for every nation.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)