Exploring the Paradox of Increased Global Health and Degraded Global Environment: How Much Borrowed Time Is Humanity Living on?

Geohealth. 2018 Aug 23;2(8):226-228. doi: 10.1029/2018GH000155. eCollection 2018 Aug.


Ample documentation of the global environmental degradation of air, land, and water paints a grim picture for the future of humanity. And yet by all measures global human health and well-being have been improving significantly over the past several decades, including significant improvements in middle- and low-income countries as well. The causes and consequences of this apparent paradox have not received the attention that they deserve, largely because they are measured and studied by different fields of inquiry. A systems approach that focuses on the drivers behind this apparent paradox of environmental degradation and human health improvement must include a combination of social and technological developments that have improved resource use, distribution, and innovation. But in many cases, such as phosphate resources and flying insect populations, the resource bank is not inexhaustible or replaceable, and priority must be placed for research and action on those critical resources upon which planetary health relies. Particularly, providing greater support and access to the table for youth leaders may be one way to create space for this first true generation of Anthroponauts to lead with solutions to our resource problems and to help build balance back into the environment-health equation.

Keywords: Anthroponauts; global health; phosphorus; pollution; resources; youth leaders.

Publication types

  • Editorial