In Harmony and Health
Oct 01, 2019 08:15AM
● By Kyle Hass
This month’s issue of Natural Awakenings delves into two important subjects, wellness and sustainability, that ostensibly are unrelated. However, as we witness mounting evidence of the inextricable connection between our health and our environment, it feels less and less abstract. After all, God created the world as a symbiotic relationship—man and nature, living in harmony, surviving and thriving together. Polls have shown that 70 percent of Americans believe the climate is changing, and about 60 percent feel that climate change is human caused. Yet most also feel helpless to address the crisis themselves, saying it’s the responsibility of governments to do something (and only 6 percent feel that governments actually will).
Why the disconnect? Why the apathy? These answers are likely found in human nature, in some people’s belief that climate change is happening so slowly and over such a vast area that they will be long gone before it affects them. They don’t have to worry about it or do anything about it now. Instead, they can wait on the painfully slow government to do something, sometime in the “whenever” sphere. Or they can leave it up to the greenies, those nutty environmentalists who are always making so much noise.
Fortunately, new research is showing that public attitudes on this issue are shifting, that more Americans are beginning to see and believe that they and their families are being impacted by the effects of climate change. While these people don’t yet constitute a majority, their numbers are growing, and I believe that they will soon make a big difference in how our nation responds to this global crisis.
What’s most interesting to me is why attitudes are shifting. It appears that believers are being made by 1) the routinely catastrophic nature of modern weather events—from rain, snow and hail to tornadoes and hurricanes; and 2) personal health impacts. Based on their own experience and that of their families, friends and neighbors, Americans are beginning to recognize and accept the fact that air pollution from any source is dangerous to their health.
To a lesser degree, they are also beginning to understand that air pollution (caused by fires, and excessive heat mixed with particulates in the air that don’t belong there) causes global warming. While the most vulnerable populations are on the front lines of climate change, the air in a region is something we all share.
Some of us have more resources to mount a better personal defense against climate change, enabling us to stave off negative health impacts longer; however, unless there is systemic transformation to reduce global warming, we will all be affected in some way. Many of us will become climate refugees, as it appears many from the Bahamian island of Abaco have recently become. And it seems that every week I meet someone who moved here to North Texas years ago after Hurricane Katrina. Across the world, people are picking up and leaving their homes and their countries because drought, rising sea levels, warming seas and wildfires are destroying their ability to pursue their livelihoods.
While you’re thinking of these big things, don’t forget the little things—like your teeth and gums. “Mouth Matters: A Holistic Approach to Oral Health,” (page 24) explains how problems with the “doorway to the body” can usher in larger health issues, and explores less invasive, less toxic approaches to keeping the mouth and teeth well.
In “Rethinking Our Stuff: Moving Toward a Circular Economy,” (page 30) Yvette Hammett offers an easy roadmap for designing an intentional lifestyle that limits pollution, keeps products and materials in use and out of landfills, and regenerate natural systems. And our feature on slow food—it’s the opposite of fast food (page 32)—shows yet another facet of the health-environment connection, as it encourages a deeper appreciation of eating “farm to fork,” which is healthier for us, for nature and for local economies.
This month’s issue is chock-full of news and resources to help you live a greener, healthier lifestyle. We hope you enjoy it and find something that encourages you and inspires you to take action.
Blessings until next month,