The ecological and climate crisis have been documented with overwhelming scientific evidence. Ecosystem breakdown and climate disruption have a negative impact on society and human health. Indeed, they have now become the biggest threat to our health.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a striking example of our dependence on nature. Humans are not "separate from" or "above" nature. We depend on the ecosystems we are part of and which sustain our existence: they provide us with oxygen, water, food, places to live, and the variety of species we can admire. This inspires gratitude, but also humility and concern. A lack of awareness of this dependence leads to alienation and social disruption.
Ecosystems and biodiversity provide us with countless other "services": pollination, resources, cultural and spiritual enrichment, climate regulation, protection against pests and diseases. These “services” are essential to our physical, emotional and social health.
The climate and ecological crisis have already partially exceeded safe limits for human existence or are approaching dangerous tipping points. Human health is directly and indirectly at risk. Direct effects include food shortages, air pollution, increased spread of infectious diseases, heat and extreme weather events. Indirect impacts are equally important: violent conflicts, poverty, increased inequality in the social determinants of health, climate migration, mental health problems. The impacts are usually strongest on the vulnerable.
In this critical situation, we believe that the fight for human and planetary health is particularly meaningful. Caring for the preservation of life — for ourselves and future generations — is valuable. It gives our lives meaning and makes them worthwhile.
Alongside mitigation, adaptation is crucial. Both require the same approach: a wise and humble reassessment of our values and goals, leading to, both, a smaller footprint and improved quality of life and health.
We must act urgently and join efforts to, at the least, delay climatic and other tipping points, and give our society and healthcare systems resilience to the challenges ahead.