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Public Health in the Face of Global Ecological and Climate Change

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Traditional public health over the centuries has focused on a few areas. It has ensured the health of communities through good sanitary practices, regulatory regimes that keep air and water clear of pollution and safe for inhalation and consumption purposes respectively, and soil quality that better ensures food safety and security. Also, since the advent of the smallpox vaccine by Edward_Jenner in 1796, various immunization programs against contagion from several other debilitating diseases have been the mainstay of public health.

Now, as humanity, both individually and collectively, tampers with the very fabric of life through the global expansion of the human enterprise, Nature's services that provide pure air, clean water, and uncontaminated soils are under siege. Additional changes include biodiversity loss, population growth with ever-widening disparities, over-consumptiveness and hazardous waste disposal, escalating demands on fossil fuels for energy and consumer products, and on technological gaps between the more advanced and less advanced economies, globally.

The effect of the changes that are under way is a net negative, with systemic impacts such as climate change, declines in air, water and soil quality, as well as food security issues around the world. If epidemiology is to usefully inform policy on matters of such global import, as it has traditionally done in the past on matters globally but bearing on more local public health concerns, then more support for the sub-specialty of ecoepidemiology is needed.

Eco-epidemiologists study the dynamics between global ecological changes and population health. By studying these dynamics, the public and policy-makers could be better informed about the need for policy interventions to serve ecological integrity, biocentric in its essence, thereby being better informed about the need to implement policies to sustain all life. In so doing, we would help humans to see their integral connection to the ecosystems in which we live, with consequences that will more ensure human well-being and the ongoing of civilization.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law
    Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law is the latest product of research by the Global Ecological Integrity Group (, an organisation that has been meeting annually since 1992 to discuss scientific, philosophical, political and legal aspects of ecological integrity. This collection examines various aspects of governance from the standpoint of integrity: from democracy, to forms of Native governance, from globalization and neocolonialism to specific human rights to food, water and climate.
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