UNDERSTANDING OUR PREDICAMENT
Without a healthy and stable planet, there are no healthy humans, and our planet is in trouble. The scientific literature is clear with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from 153 countries clearly stating the earth is facing a climate emergency (Ripple et al, 2020).
Many scientists support the idea that we are now entering the Anthropocene, an epoch where human activity is the primary driver of accelerated global warming. We are pushing the limits of the planetary boundaries through our unsustainable use of natural resources. Globally, the climate has warmed by ~1ºC since 1910, much higher in some polar areas, and in 2019 the CO₂e of all greenhouse gases reached 508ppm, the highest levels seen in over two million years (BOM, 2020).
If our actions continue unabated we are on course to reach between 4-5ºC degrees of global warming by 2100 (IPCC, 2018). The public health consequences of this environmental change will be immense. We put ourselves at risk of more severe weather events and more frequent heatwaves, new and re-emerging non-communicable diseases, food insecurity and displacement of whole communities. We are fast approaching irreversible climate tipping points, and we have less than a decade to put climate solutions in place to safeguard our health and the health of the planet, now and for generations to come.
If left unchecked, climate-related effects could be responsible for an extra 250,000 deaths per year between 2030-2050
Climate and environmental changes place millions of people at risk of under nutrition
Over 40% of the world's population could be living in areas that experience severe water stress by 2050
Human alterations of the environment have triggered the sixth major extinction event in the history of life
The warming climate is already affecting vector-borne disease transmission and spread, with impacts likely to worsen
Continued environmental degradation could result in forced migration, civil conflict & loss of jobs
Chronic diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in both Australia and New Zealand, but by using our forks, fingers and feet wisely, we can all work on changing these sobering statistics.
According to the World Health Organisation up to 80% of coronary heart disease, 90% of type 2 diabetes and one-third of cancers could be avoided by healthier lifestyle choices.
The underlying, lifestyle-related causes of these chronic diseases can be treated by focusing on evidence-based nutrition, physical activity, sleep and stress management strategies. As an added bonus, many of these healthy lifestyle strategies are great for our planet too.
A healthy plant-based diet is associated with a myriad of health benefits. Diet can be a powerful tool for not only treating chronic illness, but for reducing our impact on the planet
Stress can either improve mood and productivity or lead to mental or chronic health issues. Adopting strategies that can minimse and manage stress is an important component of wellbeing
Social connection is an important health determinant. Fostering healthy relationships and social networks is associated with decreased risk of death and disease and improved cognition
Regular and consistent physical activity is an essential component of overall health and the prevention & treatment of disease. Exercise also benefits mental health and cognition
Sleep plays an important role in your physical and mental health, quality of life and safety! Ongoing sleep deficiency can increase risk for certain chronic health problems and affect how we interact with others
The dangers of substance abuse are well known. Overwhelming evidence documents the increased risk of many diseases and cancers from cigarette smoking and excessive alcohol consumption