One Health

One Health—The Book

New Book on One Health

I wrote a book. Actually, I co-wrote a book.  The book, published by Wiley in January 2019, is Introduction to One Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Planetary Health (https://bit.ly/2rIZfjd). Parts of the book are open access, including the first chapter in which the two other authors and I use our home base in St. Louis, Missouri, situated on the bank of the Mississippi River, as an example of the One Health challenges and opportunities that flow through our past, present and future. Try it out https://bit.ly/2VUdKSM.

We divided the book into 6 sections, including (1) An Introduction and Impetus for One Health; (2) The One Health Triad; (3) Practitioners and Their Tools; (4) How to Start a Movement; (5) Humanities of One Health; and (6) Where Do We Go From Here. These sections are further divided into 15 chapters, in which we seek to answer the what, where, when, why, who, and how of One Health.  Science at the core, we include interviews of persons across disciplines showing the diversity of career choices necessary to solve today’s health challenges and case studies of real life One Health challenges and opportunities. We also use storytelling as the vehicle for inspiring next-generation planetary health care-givers. The foreword, written by Dan Ashe, CEO and President of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, starts the book off with his take on why we need biodiversity and how One Health will help us continue to have a planet full of life, and one worth inhabiting, as the 21st Century unfolds. 

Why a Book on One Health

I am often asked why write a book on One Health?  The answer is easy and one I counter with questions of my own.  I ask whether the person has found her/himself increasingly thinking about the conservation and public health challenges that threaten human, animal, and plant health. I follow with a question on whether climate change or the loss of biodiversity or plastic pollution is on their mind. I then remind the questioner that all these, along with countless other, challenges have impacts on the health of life, whether animals living in the deepest oceans or humans living in the most crowded cities. These challenges threaten planetary health and the health of all life—One Health. 

A book like this is just in time.  With the growing body of evidence on the global challenges—even the biggest science deniers among us—must surely be thinking about the impacts they of these challenges on the health of their families.  The data on climate change and the impacts this has on all facets of our cultures, politics, economies, as well as health https://bit.ly/2qusHsK is a wake up call.  Climate change is real and it exerts impacts, both small and large, on all life. Then just this month, another report released, and frankly this one keeps me up at night and working hard during the day, should also move us to reflection. This is the UN report on the current state of biodiversity. Read it!  If not the whole report, at least the summary on the current state of the planet you call home https://bit.ly/2Jjc51D.

Both these documents are report cards of sorts, providing grades on the health of life on Earth today. These reports are connected. We know that climate change leads to biodiversity loss and that the loss of biodiversity has negative feedbacks on climate change.  They are indicators of our shared health concerns—One Health.

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One Health is About Hope

The story does not need to end here with us simply letting these challenges loom large, creating a type of overwhelmed apathy. Instead, these facts should generate energy, drive, and determination within us so we may come up with solutions.  This is the true value of One Health.  A solution based transdisciplinary approach to overcome the planetary health challenges we humans have created, and for which we humans increasingly will suffer.  One Health is about hope.  

In the same month of the UN’s alarming report on the state of Earth’s living creatures, with 1 million species of animals and plants at risk of extinction, there was other news.   Good news!  Jane Goodall, the icon of conservation and hope, received a Time Person of the year award.  Her words play out well in an interview https://bit.ly/2QgrscL. Although not called by name, Goodall speaks of One Health and the responsibility and power we each have to help save wildlife, wildlands, and Homo sapiens alike.  A call to action. One of the easier actions might just be to sit down with a copy of our new book and learn about the what, where, when, why, who, and how of One Health. Then go out and save the world.     

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One Nation Under … Siege

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We are a nation under siege. Siege as “a prolonged period of misfortune” sums up the state of our Union today. We are indeed in a prolonged period of mass misfortune, which has only become worse since January 20, 2017, as the government chips away at health care access and women’s rights while sitting quietly on gun control. Refusing to begin a discussion on gun control is unfortunate on so many levels. 

Guns and Guitars

A shocking combination. (Image from  gunsandguitars.com )

A shocking combination. (Image from gunsandguitars.com)

You may think me naïve, but when the Guns and Guitars store front flashed onto my screen Monday following the Las Vegas massacre, I thought how odd that a store would sell guns and guitars. My confusion was mixed with the dread, horror and all but complete sense of hopelessness I felt in the face of the uncontrolled gun insanity that has crossed our land. Waking on October 2, 2017 to the news of the latest and greatest mass shooting in modern USA history did not feel unexpected. This news hit me in the same way as the news following the Columbine High School gun violence in 1999, Sandy Hook Elementary School killings in 2012, and the Pulse Nightclub slayings in 2016. Thoughts of sadness and rage and empathy all mixing together this week, just as they had following each of the countless other gun related murders in the US. The national heartache over the past week feels like déjà vu. Similar heartache to that which I felt after the shooting in 2007 at my Alma mater, Virginia Tech, even if the Va Tech violence felt a little more “personal”. All these gun tragedies were in one sense the same, while in so many other ways different; different for each of the victims and their families and friends. Similar in that they all may have been prevented if we could bring about common sense gun control.   

Living in the USA

I feel amazingly lucky to have been born in the USA and that I hold a United States of America passport. The places it has allowed me to travel and rights it has afforded me are a privilege. However, I am frankly shell shocked that so many of my fellow citizens cannot grasp the fact that we need change. This week I have been reading and re-reading the Amendments. They are mostly good, helpful and powerful for the people: this is especially true if considered in the context of what our country was like when the Bill of Rights came about.   

Of all the Amendments, the one that seems to have us stuck in a time warp is Amendment 2 - The Right to Bear Arms. Ratified in December 1791 this Amendment provides U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. The Amendment states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Arms in 1791 might have looked something like this gun.  

Here is a Ketland Pistol. (Image from  roperld.com )

Here is a Ketland Pistol. (Image from roperld.com)

I am all for citizens of the US having rights and freedom. However, I question what we mean by freedom and rights. Do I have freedom from fear of being shot if I go into a school, stop next to someone at a traffic light, or enjoy myself at an outdoor concert? When does someone else's right impinge on my freedom? 

Bullets and Burgers  

For those seeking "The Ultimate Outdoor Machine Gun Experience" (Image from  3gun.co.nz )

For those seeking "The Ultimate Outdoor Machine Gun Experience" (Image from 3gun.co.nz)

This week seeing Guns and Guitars reminded me of another commercial stop along the American road – Bullets and Burgers.  Famous for the incident in 2014 when a 9 year old girl accidentally killed her “instructor” at this restaurant/shooting range. This one gun mistake by a 9 year old ruined the instructor’s life and his family, as well as the girl’s life. 

I am happy for and appreciate my “inalienable rights” as a US citizen.  However, I have to believe that even the government officials who ratified the second Amendment in 1791 would see the world through different glasses—definitely through a different scope on their gun—today, and they too would realize it is time for change. 

This “gun thing” leaves me thinking of something Charles Darwin said a long time ago, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”  America - it is time for change. 

Gun control = public health = One Health.