Biodiversity and Human Health
Edited by Francesca Grifo and Joshua Rosenthal; Foreword by Thomas E. Lovejoy Island Press, 1997 Library of Congress RA565.A2B56 1997 | Dewey Decimal 610
The implications of biodiversity loss for the global environment have been widely discussed, but only recently has attention been paid to its direct and serious effects on human health. Biodiversity loss affects the spread of human diseases, causes a loss of medical models, diminishes the supplies of raw materials for drug discovery and biotechnology, and threatens food production and water quality.Biodiversity and Human Health brings together leading thinkers on the global environment and biomedicine to explore the human health consequences of the loss of biological diversity. Based on a two-day conference sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution, the book opens a dialogue among experts from the fields of public health, biology, epidemiology, botany, ecology, demography, and pharmacology on this vital but often neglected concern.Contributors discuss the uses and significance of biodiversity to the practice of medicine today, and develop strategies for conservation of these critical resources. Topics examined include: the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss emerging infectious diseases and the loss of biodiversity the significance and use of both prescription and herbal biodiversity-derived remedies indigenous and local peoples and their health care systems sustainable use of biodiversity for medicine an agenda for the future In addition to the editors, contributors include Anthony Artuso, Byron Bailey, Jensa Bell, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Michael Boyd, Mary S. Campbell, Eric Chivian, Paul Cox, Gordon Cragg, Andrew Dobson, Kate Duffy-Mazan, Robert Engelman, Paul Epstein, Alexandra S. Fairfield, John Grupenhoff, Daniel Janzen, Catherine A. Laughin, Katy Moran, Robert McCaleb, Thomas Mays, David Newman, Charles Peters, Walter Reid, and John Vandermeer.The book provides a common framework for physicians and biomedical researchers who wish to learn more about environmental concerns, and for members of the environmental community who desire a greater understanding of biomedical issues.
In the capital of Ghana, a teenager nicknamed “Condom Sister” trolls the streets to educate other young people about contraception. Her work and her own aspirations point to a remarkable shift not only in the West African nation, where just a few decades ago women had nearly seven children on average, but around the globe. While world population continues to grow, family size keeps dropping in countries as diverse as Switzerland and South Africa.
The phenomenon has some lamenting the imminent extinction of humanity, while others warn that our numbers will soon outgrow the planet’s resources. Robert Engelman offers a decidedly different vision—one that celebrates women’s widespread desire for smaller families. Mothers aren’t seeking more children, he argues, but more for their children. If they’re able to realize their intentions, we just might suffer less climate change, hunger, and disease, not to mention sky-high housing costs and infuriating traffic jams.
In More, Engelman shows that this three-way dance between population, women’s autonomy, and the natural world is as old as humanity itself. He traces pivotal developments in our history that set population—and society—on its current trajectory, from hominids’ first steps on two feet to the persecution of “witches” in Europe to the creation of modern contraception. Both personal and sweeping, More explores how population growth has shaped modern civilization—and humanity as we know it.
The result is a mind-stretching exploration of parenthood, sex, and culture through the ages. Yet for all its fascinating historical detail, More is primarily about the choices we face today. Whether society supports women to have children when and only when they choose to will not only shape their lives, but the world all our children will inherit.
Through a series of essays by leading demographers, environmentalists and reproductive health advocates, A Pivotal Moment offers a new perspective on the complex connection between population dynamics and environmental quality. It presents the latest research on the relationship between population growth and climate change, ecosystem health and other environmental issues. It surveys the new demographic landscape—in which population growth rates have fallen, but human numbers continue to increase. It looks back at the lessons learned from half a century of population policy—and forward to propose twenty-first century population policies that are sustainable and just.
A Pivotal Moment puts forth the concept of “population justice,” which is inspired by reproductive justice and environmental justice movements. Population justice holds that inequality is a root cause of both rapid population growth and environmental degradation. As the authors in this volume explain, to slow population growth and build a sustainable future, women and men need access to voluntary family planning and other reproductive health services. They need education and employment opportunities, especially for women. Population justice means tackling the deep inequities—both gender and economic—that are associated with rapid population growth and unsustainable resource consumption. Where family planning is available, where couples are confident their children will survive, where girls go to school, where young men and women have economic opportunity—there couples will have healthier and smaller families.
Citizens expect their governments to lead on sustainability. But from largely disappointing international conferences like Rio II to the U.S.’s failure to pass meaningful climate legislation, governments’ progress has been lackluster. That’s not to say leadership is absent; it just often comes from the bottom up rather than the top down. Action—on climate, species loss, inequity, and other sustainability crises—is being driven by local, people’s, women’s, and grassroots movements around the world, often in opposition to the agendas pursued by governments and big corporations.
These diverse efforts are the subject of the latest volume in the Worldwatch Institute’s highly regarded State of the World series. The 2014 edition, marking the Institute’s 40th anniversary, examines both barriers to responsible political and economic governance as well as gridlock-shattering new ideas. The authors analyze a variety of trends and proposals, including regional and local climate initiatives, the rise of benefit corporations and worker-owned firms, the need for energy democracy, the Internet’s impact on sustainability, and the importance of eco-literacy. A consistent thread throughout the book is that informed and engaged citizens are key to better governance.
The book is a clear-eyed yet ultimately optimistic assessment of citizens’ ability to govern for sustainability. By highlighting both obstacles and opportunities, State of the World 2014 shows how to effect change within and beyond the halls of government. This volume will be especially useful for policymakers, environmental nonprofits, students of environmental studies, sustainability, or economics—and citizens looking to jumpstart significant change around the world.