Planetary Health: Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves (Book)

Edited by Samuel Myers and Howard Frumkin, 2020 Two young people look toward a mountain embraced. The text reads PLANETARY HEALTH Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves.

Human health depends on the health of the planet. Earth’s natural systems—the air, the water, the biodiversity, the climate—are our life support systems. Yet climate change, biodiversity loss, scarcity of land and freshwater, pollution and other threats are degrading these systems. The emerging field of planetary health aims to understand how these changes threaten our health and how to protect ourselves and the rest of the biosphere.


Publication in Press

Focusing Attention on Reciprocity between Nature and Humans

Can be the Key to Reinvigorating Planetary Health

Usha Varanasi
Usha Varanasi

Usha Varanasi, Ph.D., College of the Environment, University of Washington

In Press, Ecopsychology Journal,
Mary Ann Liebert Inc., Publishers

This timely essay raises the importance of shifting individual and societal attention to preventive and precautionary measures to maintain human and ecological health. These measures require strategic rather than reactive approaches to human health and ecological crises. This essay points to the growing body of research that nature (wilderness to green and blue space) is necessary for people’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Such evidence should persuade the public and policymakers to proactively conserve ecosystems, reducing the need to rescue depleted species or repair and restore their degraded habitats. It concludes with a plea for focused attention on reciprocal healing of both nature and humans, which can occur only if our interaction with nature–be it wilderness, an urban park, a garden–is frequent and respectful. The author suggests that the nature-and-health paradigm may be the game-changing strategy needed to sustain grassroots awareness for halting, and hopefully, reversing the trajectory of decline in planetary health. Our very survival depends on redefining our relationship with nature with deep reverence and empathy. In summary, purposeful attention and respect for nature across all parts of society can reinvigorate planetary health.

Nature and people in wilderness, green, and blue spaces
Photo by Su Kim