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LETTERS for April 27 issue

By Staff | Apr 27, 2017

Help the environment by changing your diet

As thousands across the U.S. get ready to protest environmental budget cuts, each of us can also help with our driving, our recycling and our diet.

Yes, our diet. A 2010 United Nations report blames animal agriculture for 70 percent of global freshwater use, 38 percent of land use and 19 percent of greenhousengas emissions.

Carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by fossil fuel combustion to operate farm machinery, trucks, factory farms and slaughterhouses.

The more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

Moreover, meat and dairy production dumps more animal waste, crop debris, fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants into our waterways than all other human activities combined. It is the driving force in wildlife habitat destruction.

In an environmentally sustainable world, meat and dairy products in our diet must be replaced by vegetables, fruits and grains, just as fossil fuels are replaced by wind, solar and other pollution-free energy sources.

Let’s cherish our environment with eco-friendly, plant-based eating. Our next trip to the supermarket is a great starting point.



Bombing is foolish

Bombing is dumb. The Age of Destruction is a foolish logic. Mother Nature is offended and is showing us that annoyance – and this will worsen as we fail to correct our conduct. Simply put, anyone anywhere from the top of the command chain to the frustrated lone fertilizer bomber is acting foolishly. We are looking at you, Kim. And you, Donald. Our Era of Strategic Patience is wearing thin.

The solution to bombs is not more bombs – or rather, it is the worst and most costly “solution” that usually leads, eventually, to even more bombs exploding and destroying even more innocent noncombatants. Idiot’s delight.

And so, even as impulsively cathartic as Trump’s bombing the Syrian airbase might have been, it was wag the dog gratuitous. As dime store tough-talking as Mike Pence was in Asia, his braggadocio is simply annoying to anyone with a shred of humanity and coherence.

Can we, at some point very soon, move to thinking critically and in our national/transnational enlightened self-interest? Simply put, Trump is threatening life on Earth, and it’s intolerable.

This guy can’t even show us his taxes. Dearest Trump supporters, it is time. Time to join the rest of us who want to survive, who want to salvage democracy, who want to have a president we can trust – even if we disagree with some of his decisions.

You must know by now, if you have been paying attention even a wee tiny little bit, that Donald Trump is stone incompetent, a buck naked liar, a flipper and flopper who will betray you in a New York second, and someone who tosses his “promises” overboard when the first whitecap appears in the sea of public policy questions.

Let him go. Help us impeach this Tweeting nuclear option – and for Trump, the nuclear option is NOT a metaphor. For your daughter, for your granddaughter, for all the daughters to come, stop this. End this aberrant administration.

Yes, U.S. presidents have been bad. But this one is an existential threat who must be turned out to pasture. Now. Before he turns Pyongyang into vitrified Kimchi, and Kim Jong-un transmogrifies Seoul, San Francisco, Tokyo and Seattle into seas of fire.

We have two testosterone-addled rulers with pudgy fingers on nuclear code launchers. The Humankind Era of Strategic Patience is ended. Impeach one, impeach both – but stop this dummy dance to death now.



Stop animal diseases before they reach humans

It’s hard to believe that medical researchers could underestimate the dangers of tuberculosis – the world’s deadliest infection.

Yet according to a study published by Lancet Infectious Diseases, a medical journal, one form of the disease is a far bigger threat than previously thought: animal TB.

The illness, which can be acquired through contaminated food or close contact with animals, afflicts roughly 120,000 humans around the world. It’s harder to treat than the conventional form of the disease and is resistant to the main antibiotic used to treat TB.

Zoonotic diseases, illnesses spread between animals and humans, represent some of the most serious public-health threats the world faces. Battling them effectively will require a broader approach to human health – one that takes into account the relationship between human beings, animals and the wider ecosystem.

Nearly 3,000,000 people die annually of animal-borne diseases. These illnesses include everything from influenza and salmonella, to Ebola, malaria and Zika.

In an alarming number of cases, zoonotic illnesses have led to devastating epidemics. The 2014 Ebola outbreak, for instance, is believed to have started when a bat transmitted the illness to a young boy in Guinea. The disease soon spread throughout West Africa, with cases emerging as far away as the United States. Ultimately, more than 11,000 people died.

The mosquito-borne Zika virus has infected tens of thousands of people in 73 countries and territories, including 3,800 people in the continental United States.

We haven’t seen the last of these kinds of outbreaks. Scientists estimate that nearly 75 percent of newly emerging infectious diseases will originate in animals.

Addressing the risk posed by zoonotic diseases will require an approach to global health that sees humans, animals and the environment as deeply interconnected. Known as One Health, this holistic view calls for collaboration among experts in disciplines from veterinary medicine to public health and environmental science.

If researchers can understand the interconnected causes of zoonotic outbreaks, they’ll be better equipped to prevent the next epidemic.

Fortunately, the One Health movement is gaining traction in the public health community. USAID, for instance, has spearheaded a One Health Workforce initiative that partners with universities around the world to train future health professionals in this collaborative approach.

The rise of zoonotic diseases like Zika and animal TB shows just how interconnected animal health and human health are. To effectively combat zoonotic disease, the medical community must recognize those connections and explore them fully.