Natural Environments as a Determinant of Health

Nicholson, Rosemary and Stephenson, Peter (2009) Natural Environments as a Determinant of Health. In: Understanding Health: A Determinants Approach. Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, pp. 112-133. ISBN 9780195551297

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The essential links between human health and wellbeing and the environment in which we live have long been recognised. For centuries they have been central to the Indigenous cultures of the world (Smith & Desai, 2002) and yet over the past century and a half, developing and industrialised nations have lost sight of this connection. In our relentless quest for economic wealth we have increasingly abused our own life support system. We have over-farmed, overfished and generally depleted our natural resources. We have treated the ecosystem as a bottomless pit into which we have unremittingly dumped growing quantities of industrial and human wastes. As a result, we are now witnessing the environment and health effects of this global destruction of our life support systems (Kickbush, 1989; McMichael & Woodruff, 2002).

In this chapter we aim to provide an overview of the full extent and nature of these impacts and of the current relationship between the state of the environment and human health. We begin by looking at some of the emergent or ‘modern’ environmental threats facing today’s world as populations become increasingly mobile, communities increasingly urbanised, and we begin to witness the reality of the public health impacts of global warming and changing climatic conditions. Inevitably socio-political considerations and issues of globalisation are brought to bear on these concerns. We then explore key environmental determinants of health, namely: air; water; land degradation and contamination; and the importance of these determinants, in particular, to safe food supplies.

Item Type: Book Section
Field of Research (2008): 11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
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Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2009 02:52
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2011 15:32

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