I’m so excited. A wake-up call. Over the last 26 years, there has been a ten-fold increase in the failure of stud dog testes to drop.
The significance of this is complicated, but let me say at the outset that the finding on stud dog testes relates to the awakening we desperately need to the human factor in climate change. The question has been hovering: What’s it going to take?
Of course, we all know that it has to do with critical mass–one person “getting it” beyond what it takes to maintain the status quo. It’s like a certain lemming, after scores have flown off the cliff, screeches to a halt thinking, “Wait a minute.” And then others notice her, and eventually a sufficient number pause to ensure their survival.
Where we are now on the issue of anthropogenic climate change is a critical mass still in denial. We might borrow from lemming group terminology to refer to them as a “leap” of deniers or a “suicide, splat, plunge, or funeral” of such. And here are their classic responses to the call for action:
- “Human-caused climate change is a hoax.”
- “The 97% of climate scientists warning about the human factor in climate change are all in collusion with the manufacturers of electric car batteries.”
- “So the temperature climbed to 129º in Iraq last month. It’s still cold in the Arctic.”
- “Anyway, temperatures rose millions of years ago. It has nothing to do with oil wells.”
- “I have plenty of water. My grocery store is full. My AC is working. Everything is fine.”
Unfortunately, there is more and more bad news flowing in whose significance needs to be denied in this way. But this was before the fertility of “man’s best friend” came under threat. Dogs have long been such a comfort in our increasingly turbulent and polarized world. The possibility that they could gradually cease to reproduce–well, it’s too horrifying to think about.
So how does the impending dog crisis relate to climate change? Well, my trail of thought began upon reading an article Thursday on a 26-year study performed by scientists at the University of Nottingham. Their research on canine fertility was focused on a number of purebreds bred, raised, and trained as service animals because they are an easily monitored population.
Over the course of the study, they discovered that sperm motility, the ability to swim toward an egg, dropped by 30% over all five breeds analyzed (Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, curly coat retrievers, Border collies, and German shepherds). The mortality rate of female puppies also showed a threefold increase. And as I mentioned at the outset, the incidence of undescended testicles rose ten-fold.
Why? Well, these dogs live very closely with humans, of course, breathing the same air, drinking the same water, their food contaminated with chemicals also being ingested by their humans, and sharing the same environment. As service dogs, they exist to protect and enhance the lives of their owners. In the world at large, however, all of us who own dogs cuddle with them when anxiety mounts. We love, cherish, and depend on their uncomplicated devotion more than we probably collectively realize.
So now I’ll be watching for a dog-related awakening. Maybe it will be a riveting photo of a Dachshund, say, standing on a roof, defiantly barking at the rising waters from yet another severe storm associated with climate change. Maybe such a moving image will finally send a message to all of America like that Apollo 13 call from outer space: “Houston, we have a problem.”
Of course, I realize that there’s no telling when or how or from what or whom the critical wake-up call will come–if we’re lucky. But if the source is man’s best friend, remember that you heard it first here. And it will go like this:
- “My dog’s in trouble. We gotta do something.”