By Anna Marie Trotman
With Earth Day coming up this week I wanted to look at how healthy ecosystems support all of us. We live, work and interact with each other on a planet which is not compartmentalized but connected in ways we sometimes don’t understand or pay attention to. We know about climate change, that’s a biggie, (we generally think of climate change as affecting the ecosystems and not of the impact on our health). But what about other indicators which show us how precariously perched we are. Well-functioning ecosystems provide goods and services essential for our health and wellbeing. These include nutrition and food security, clean air and fresh water, cultural and spiritual principles, and contributions to local livelihoods and economic development. Well-functioning ecosystems can also help to limit disease and stabilize the climate. These are certainly big challenges but we can break them down into smaller bites.
I’m reading a book called Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food written by Lenore Newman. It’s a fascinating look at the history of lost foods that have gone extinct due to human activity. While none of us will be sitting down to a wooly mammoth steak, passenger pigeon pie or one of the over 400 varieties of cabbages that have gone extinct, it’s important to be aware of how out of balance our culinary choices have become in order to insure that the nutrition we get from food sustains us through variety.
Biodiversity can be considered as a foundation for human health; its loss is devastating and we can see the effects in our lives. Biodiversity supports the functioning of the ecosystems on which we depend for our food and fresh water. Biodiversity aids in regulating climate, and provides recreational benefits. All human health ultimately depends on healthy ecosystems that are made possible by biodiversity and the products and services derived from them. The loss of biodiversity counteracts our efforts to improve our health. The hope is a sustainable use of biodiversity which offers significant opportunities to improve health outcomes through the variety of foods and other resources.
Healthy Planet, Healthy People
As human beings living on this beautiful, abundant planet, we are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. (Principle 1 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 1992).
In order to achieve the goal of living in harmony with nature we need to take a holistic approach, body, mind and spirit, while relying on healthy ecosystems to support us as individuals and the communities we live in. How do we do this? Through education and understanding, teaching our children about nature, the sun, the moon and the stars and how we are all connected.
Together, We Have the Power to Restore Our Earth.
This year’s Earth Day theme is Restore Our Earth™, you can get your Earth Day Tool Kit by following the link, https://www.earthday.org/toolkit-earth-day-2021-restore-our-earth/. One person, one family, one community at a time can make a difference. Let us know how you are making a difference and how we can participate. Together we will make a difference.