The book-Planetary Healthexplores the many environmental changes that threaten to undermine progress in human health
Humanity has made major, albeit inequitable, progress in health and development in recent history but this has come at a cost to the natural systems that underpin human progress. We live in an epoch when human activities are driving multiple environmental changes including climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution of the air, soil and water- widely referred to as the Anthropocene. The book-Planetary Health explores the many environmental changes that threaten to undermine progress in human health, and explains how these changes affect diverse outcomes including from infectious diseases, non – communicable diseases, child development, mental health, nutrition and injuries. In many cases those populations that have contributed little to the pervasive environmental changes are most at risk of adverse outcomes.
This book explores the intertwined challenges that must be addressed to respond effectively to the burgeoning threats to health in the Anthropocene Epoch. Three major types of challenges are identified. Conceptual challenges include our dependence on flawed metrics such as Gross Domestic Product to assess progress and drive policy. Knowledge challenges are exemplified by the failure to invest sufficiently in generating transdisciplinary evidence to guide policy and practice. Implementation challenges include the inadequacy of current governance systems to support the transition to a society that prioritises the protection, promotion and improvement of health within Planetary boundaries.
But the book goes beyond simply documenting problems; it focuses also on solutions.
But the book goes beyond simply documenting problems; it focuses also on solutions. It shows how societies can adapt at least partly to those changes that are now unavoidable, through actions that both improve health and safeguard the environment. But as there will be limits to adaptation humanity must do more than just adapt: we need transformative changes across many sectors – energy, built environment, transport, manufacturing, food, and health care to reduce the environmental footprints of society and safeguard, as far as possible, human health.
It presents the evidence, builds hope in our common future, and aims to motivate action by everyone
Increasingly policies and actions should aim to achieve multiple benefits for people and planet, and to do so equitably, with special attention to the most deprived communities and populations. Examples include reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions by replacing fossil fuels with clean renewable energy sources, transforming cities into healthier places to live at much lower environmental footprints than today, or reforming food systems to provide sufficient nutritious food sustainably to meet global demands in the face of environmental change. The book discusses specific policies, technologies, and interventions to achieve the scale of change required, and suggests how these can be put into practice. It presents the evidence, builds hope in our common future, and aims to motivate action by everyone, from the general public to policymakers to health professionals.