Now, more than ever, the importance of planetary health is made apparent as a viral pandemic sweeps over the earth. Due to events in one area, our whole planet has been affected. It is critical for us to understand that all life on earth is connected, and the activities of humans can have far-reaching repercussions.
Planetary health has been defined simply as “…the health of human civilisation and the state of the natural systems on which it depends.” Harvard University defines it as "...a field focused on characterizing the human health impacts of human-caused disruptions of Earth's natural systems."
This means that we humans are dependent on the health of our planet and all of the natural systems in it. If the planet is sick, then we too, become sick.
How does this apply to us as individuals? Well, by recognizing that we exist in a complex living system, full of unique smaller systems that act in concert, rather than in isolation, we can take responsibility for the health of our home and our species.
Things like climate change, spread of disease, and species extinctions are symptoms of how we interact with our home.
We focus on local change here at Non Toxic Communities - particularly in regard to landscaping practices at the neighborhood level. This is more manageable than trying to tackle an issue from the top down. When implementing a municipal policy, the effects are immediate in that an ongoing source of toxic exposures and pollution have ceased.
That's the thing about human-caused disruptions - they are within our control. During this pandemic, there are things we do have control over like staying home, washing hands, and wearing masks. These help slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus which emerged due to human interactions with wildlife and our natural world.
While this is an urgent issue that needs our attention, let us not lose sight of the big picture with regard to other urgent issues like climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution that create problems like COVID-19 and can actually make it worse. The stressors on our species and natural systems add up, so the more we can do to address the straightforward issues that degrade our environment and harm our health like synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, gas engine pollution, synthetic turf, and habitat loss, the healthier and more resilient our communities will be.
Check out our Tools for Change for free resources to get started to protect your community's health.
And, of course, stay safe and be well!