Ecological Vitality

There is no question that an unhealthy, unsta­ble environment decreases efficiency and our ability to create stable, healthy societies and communities. Yet, human history is filled with examples where we do just the opposite. For a variety of reasons, we have accepted the de­struction of healthy, vital habitats for ourselves and the natural systems that we rely upon. This has to change. Increasing climate change— indeed, climate crisis—is requiring us to take a systems perspective in order to create healthy,

more vital natural capital for which to support human life and activities. Some of these con­cerns include:

• Habitat destruction and collapse

• Topsoil depletion (which retards our ability to grow food)

• Habitat alteration

• Reduced biodiversity

• Climate change (also known as global warming, global weirding, and climate crisis)

• Ozone depletion

• Fresh water supplies

• Air pollution

• Toxic pollutions (including carcinogens, acid rain, and the by-products of industrial and agricultural chemicals)

• Over-concentration of substances (too much of even good materials, in too high a

concentration, or in the wrong places, are just as toxic as harmful materials)

• Resource depletion (such as oil or water)

• Destruction of eco-services (such as the environment’s ability to clean air and water, and shade us from harmful ultraviolet rays)

For all of these issues that affect the environ­ment, they all directly affect human health as much as they affect the health of plant, animal, and other life in nature.

The stress our activities have placed on the en­vironment by our population has endangered not only specific species, but whole systems. Food, water, and energy are intimately inter­connected, although our policies treat them as separate and unrelated. If you’re interested in the more details on this topic, a great place to start is the U. N. Millennium Assessment at www. millenniumassessment. org.