From time to time the paper prints letters from people who are upset by the use of animals in medical research. To me this is the least worrying aspect of our treatment of the natural world.

Life started from a single cell over four billion years ago, followed by all the diversity of life that exists today.

Whether any of it continues to exist into the future should be decided by the laws of natural selection and, since all existing life has arrived here together, it means that we are all equal, all different, but just the same equal.

Unfortunately, we humans don’t think that we should be subject to the laws of natural selection and that we should be kept alive at any cost, which is one of the reasons for the vast increase in the world’s population.

To keep us alive is, of course, why millions are spent on research, which includes the exploitation of other life forms. Neither my wife nor I would be here today without the aid of the medical profession.

The biggest problem we now face is that the expansion of the human race is rapidly destroying the natural environment by, among other things, felling the rain forests to provide more room to produce food and more room to live in and, if animals get in the way, their destruction as well.

The result is that hundreds of species have become extinct, with many more likely to follow.

In addition, deforestation is accelerating global warming.

One example of our attitude to other life forms was the practise, by the hunting/shooting fraternity, of employing gamekeepers to kill all birds of prey and the crow family because they might eat some of the birds bred to be shot.

The same seems to apply to foxes, which were only spared because of the wish to chase them. Now that this ‘sport’ is no longer allowed, shooting of foxes has accelerated. Perhaps landowners will now have to employ someone to kill the rodents that the foxes would have kept under control naturally.

It took millions of years for the creation of coal, gas, oil and peat to make it possible for animal life to exist. It seems that we are doing our best to return all that carbon back to the atmosphere. I wonder if those that make money from selling these fuels will stop until all has been removed from the Earth. The future for our planet looks grim.

Derrick Holt, Fortnam Close, Headington, Oxford