Health and the Environment

The relationship between health and the
natural environment is an issue that doesn’t always get connected, yet the two
are deeply inter-related.

The relationship between health and the natural environment is something that doesn’t always get connected, yet the two are deeply interrelated. The TIME Gobal Health blog reports on a Voice of America report that reveals an epidemic of malaria in regions where deforestation is occurring in the Amazon.

As Christine Gorman notes, malaria occurs in some parts of the world year- round, but epidemics such as the current one in the Amazon call for a deeper explanation.

I’m about one-third of the way through Jared Diamond’s, Collapse:How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, which looks at this issue from a more wholistic view. The book is a daunting read–over 500 pages–but it makes clear from the second chapter on Easter Island onward that the connection between the environment, food and health is a major hinge-point in the collapse or success of a society.

Given the debate about global warming and human impact on the environment, the subject should be given even more urgent attention.

We’ve long known that environmental degradation contributes to population movement as people seek new land to cultivate food. We also know conflict happens when competing claims are made for fertile land and access to water, and this isn’t an ancient reality, it’s contemporary. From the U.S. West through the drylands of sub-Saharan Africa, the same competition is leading to conflict.

Diamond illustrates how several factors lead to collapse, environmental degradation being one of several. But human health is always directly affected by the health of the environment.

For an interesting web study of collapse, including health impacts, this site is worth a visit.

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