What is Planetary Health?

I think I’ve always been fascinated with nature and how the health of our species, the planet and all the other creatures which call our world home are connected.

Yet, as with many things, as much as I delve into this huge topic and become more passionate and educated about it, I have tried to step back and see the bubble that I am in of like-minded individuals. I therefore wanted to take the opportunity to share what planetary health is and why I am so passionate about it here on my blog.

A seminal paper published in The Lancet by the Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health defined Planetary health as:

“the health of human civilization and the state of the natural systems on which it depends”.

To me Planetary Health and lifestyle medicine are so intricately linked. It introduces an eco-social approach to contemporary health challenges. It also brings about the issue of inter-generational health equity, focusing on the health and wellbeing of future generations, not just those already living on the planet. I want to be able to imagine a world where future generations live and there are coral reefs, rainforests and countries like the Maldives still exist on the map.

Planetary health highlights how interconnected all life on Earth is and aims to characterise the health impacts on humans caused by our disruptions of natural systems.

great infographic.png

Picture source: http://www.ukhealthalliance.org/health-climate-change/

A new geological era has been proposed, called the Anthropocene, which demonstrates how humanity is now the biggest influence of these natural systems on Earth.

Public health and modern medicine have led to dramatic improvements in human health over the past century. Yet, these improvements are now threatened by the fragile position we have put our planet in, as we have developed without consideration of natural resources.

Increasing temperatures, air pollution, deforestation, declining biodiversity and the health anxieties which relate to these all put our health at risk; just to name a few. It is often those who have done the least to create such dramatic changes to our Earth’s systems whom are affected the greatest.

planetary-health-infographic_lrg.jpg

Planetary health aims to collaborate in a trans-disciplinary manner across nations to research and develop our understanding of the connections between natural systems and health. It also strives to appreciate human health benefits from ecological conservation and alleviating the strain on our planet of greenhouse gases. On a political level a goal is to encourage the development of policies at the national and international level to make these improvements in planetary health possible.

I’ll leave it there for today as just an intro. If you’d like to start looking into how you change your lifestyle for both your health and the planet’s check out my previous blog on the planetary health diet here: https://thelifestylepill.org/2019/01/20/planetary-health-diet/

Emma x

Resources:

I have signed up to the Clinicians for Planetary Health initiative via the Planetary Health Alliance – if you’re interest in joining or just want to learn more check out their page: https://planetaryhealthalliance.org/planetary-health

The seminal paper mentioned in the blog can be found here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60901-1/fulltext

The Lancet has a specific journal dedicated to planetary health. All of this journal is open access so free to read, the aim of this was to facilitate multidisciplinary engagement and international collaboration given the gravity of the topic at hand. Check out the latest issue with links to the archive here: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/issue/current

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