More than half a century ago, a little girl growing up on a small Indiana farm fell deeply in love with the natural world. She was fascinated by the wildflowers, birds, trees, butterflies, tadpoles, fossils, mushrooms, fireflies, stars, clouds, and other wonders. That farm was a permanent place of the heart for her whole family.
That girl grew up to be a university professor, who taught courses on the connections between human health and the health of the natural environment. Now retired from teaching, she is still an ardent naturalist and environmentalist. She works to help protect the environment on which our health depends.
Humans have made profound changes to our natural world. These include:
- physical changes (like water pollution and soil erosion),
- biological changes (such as development of new diseases and the extinction of species),
- social changes (such as globalization of trade and the development of industrial agriculture).
- Most important is the threat of climate change: the human-caused warming of our planet that is the greatest challenge facing current and future generations.
These changes are affecting us all – whether or not we think about them. The more we can understand about the threats to the health of people and the environment, the better we can act to protect and improve the health of our families, our communities, our countries, and the world as a whole.
A better world is possible.