Doc’s Blog

The Population Bomb


    I had to chuckle when I recently read about Paul Ehrlich’s new  book - “The Population BombRevisited”- in which he predicts pretty much the same doomsday message he espoused in his original 1969 book, “The Population Bomb.”   Both books forsee a shattering collapse of civilization to be a near certaint in the next few decades.  

    For me, his reputation is somewhat tarnished by the fact that most of what  he predicted 50 years ago has not come to pass — but some of it has.  Back then he predicted mass starvation caused by rampant population growth. That hasn’t happened — yet — but is is happening.  There has been a tremendous population  increas in the last 50 years and there are parts of the world suffering from famine - mostly caused by faulty global distribution systems and not so much by failure to produce enough food.  

    His new book adds the problems of our continuing destruction of natural resources and the toxification of the planet’s farm land by products of Big-Pharma. Ehrlich wrote that the poisoning of our food may be more damaging that climate change.  He also pointed out that chemical contamination has caused sperm counts to plument world wide — which may contribute to population decline in the long run. 

    I started out to write this as a criticism of Ehrlich’s lack of accuracy in his predictions — but I was wrong.   Stick to your guns, Paul, the only mistake you made was in estimating the length of the time-line.  

Antibiotics: good or bad?

I had a phone call from a fellow with a question about injecting his horse with antibiotics. His Vet had diagnosed a case of Strangles (Streptococcus equi) and recommended a course of antibiotic teatment.  The owner wanted to know if that would upset his plans to be organic. I think he was concerned that using antibiotics would violate some basic precept of holistic thought. I assured him it would be a prudent thing to do.   

I think antibiotics are a good and useful technology/ Since Alexander Fleming’s discoverey of penicillin in 1927 it has saved many thousands, perhaps millions, of lives. Antibiotics, in and off themselves, are not bad. The probles we have with them is misuse.  Fleming  warned, early on, that if penicillin was used at too low a dose or for too short of a time it would lead to antibiotic resistant bacteria.  We ignored his advice.

In 1947, a hospital in London experienced an outbreak of staph infections that did not respond to penicillin. By 1953, the same resistant bug sparked an epidemic in Australia.  In 1955 it crossed to the United States, infecting more than 5,000 mothers who had given birth in hospitals near Seattle and their newborns too.

In 1948 Thomas Jukes, a poultry nutritionist at Lederly Laboratories, fed a few ounces of the left over growth medium from the production of the newly discovered broad-spectrum antibiotic  tetracycline or aureomycin to a group of chicks.  The results in increased growth rates were amazing as were the short-term health benefits.  

Jukes shared his results with some colleagues and the practice of  feeding low levels of antibiotics to livestock spread like wildfire.  This enabled the start ot the CAFO industry and was the beginning of the lethal game of leapfrog that organisms and antibiotics have engaged in ever since.

Walk the Farm

    A presentation at a recent Dairy Conference was entitled, “Walk The Farm If You Want to Know the Truth.”  The speaker cited his experiences as manager of a large, up-scale, 14 floor hotel.  Starting early each  morning he would walk all of the halls, checking rooms, lounge areas, kitchen, restaurant, and even bookkeeping entries. He would then confer with the responsible staff and remedy any problems.  He did this three times every day.  He said as he did this there were less and less problems. 

    His point was, whether managing a hotel or a dairy, if you want to know what’s really going on, you need to have an eyes-on presence  in every key area — several times a day. The information he gets from personal observation is more valuable than verbal or written reports from subordinates. 

    For a dairyman, I think eye-balling the cows is a must.  My friend and former colleague, Dr. Bob Scott, often said, “The most valuable time a dairyman spends on his farm is when he is leaning on a fence looking at his cows.”   I agree.  

    It's not only about being on-site and looking around — the very presence and subliminal mental input of the manager adds another element to the equation of success that makes the whole operation more cohesive, more productive, and more profitable.   As Dr. Marvin Cain, DVM, so succinctly put it, “Thoughts Are Things”.

    In 160 BC an old Roman, Cato the Elder, wrote a treatise on agriculure titled 'De Re Agri Cola.”  He wrote: “The master’s eye doth fat the ox, his foot doth fat the ground”.   I interpret this to mean that in order to have healthy and productive soils, crops, and animals, the Master must be personally involved in caring for both.   Walk the Farm!

A Quote to Ponder This Weekend

“I do not know what I may appear |
to the world; but to myself I seem
 to have been only like a boy playing
 on the seashore, and diverting
myself in now and then finding a
smoother pebble or a prettier shell
 than ordinary, whilst the great
ocean of truth lay all
undiscovered before me.”

Sir Isaac Newton. , 1642-1727  

Sir Issac Newton

English physicist and mathematician, who was the culminating figure of thescientific revolution of the 17th century.