Planetary Overload: Global Environmental Change and the Health of the Human Species

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Our increasing populations, conspicuous consumption and the spread of technology are overloading Earth's capacity to replenish and repair itself. This eloquent and alarming book examines the likely impact on human health of the ongoing degradation of the planet's ecosystems.

This book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...lucid and convincing...this is a book with built-in appeal to epidemiologists...inviting, informing, and enabling us to face and begin to be effectively involved in the strategies for the future of our neighborhoods, our countries, and our species." American Journal of Epidemiology

"...well articulated and excellent basic framework—ecological, evolutionary and historical—of the human species and our social and economic activities. This alone makes the book an excellent addition to the literature. Planetary Overload is a thought-provoking, excellent addition to the literature on global environmental health issues for medical and public health students as well as for practicing environmental and health professionals." Medicine and Global Survival

"...the book is interesting, readable, and thought provoking." Bill D. Roebuck, International Environmental Affairs

"...skillfully written: an accomplished, eclectic book which draws fruitfully on historical, biological, ecological, and epidemiological knowledge...a very worthwhile book...challenging and erudite and very worth reading..." International Journal of Epidemiology

"The scholarly journey undertaken by A.J. McMicheal in this book is profound, broad and a bold attempt to shift public-health theory and practice onto firmer ecological ground...A strength of this book is the way the author places environmental and public-health issues in an historical and geographical forces the reader to think of the interconnectdedness of natural systems, and the complex and perhaps unpredictable effects on human health that disturbances in these inter-linked systems may have." Aleck Ostry, Annals

"In discussing a variety of environmental threats, the book does a good job of exploring many important issues in a single work." Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Quarterly Review of Biology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521441384
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Series: Canto Book Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 First things 17
1.2 Biological origins 19
1.3 Life on a restless planet 26
1.4 Future prospects 34
2 The ecological framework 39
2.1 Environmental and ecological perspectives 39
2.2 Non-linear systems 47
2.3 Ecological ideas in human culture 50
3 The health of populations 56
3.1 Persons, populations and public health 56
3.2 Health, wealth and environment 66
3.3 Human health within an ecological framework 72
3.4 Estimating the effects upon population health 75
4 System overload: ancient and modern 82
4.2 The decline of ancient civilisations 84
4.3 The human diet: 'evodeviation' and health 87
4.4 Energy use: environmental sources and impact 95
4.5 Acid rain 98
4.6 Environmental pollutants and ecosystems 102
5 Population increase, poverty and health 108
5.2 Human ecology and population growth 113
5.3 Controlling population and alleviating poverty 122
6 Greenhouse warming and climate change 132
6.1 Climate change 132
6.2 Climate change and human health 143
6.3 Politics of climate change 167
7 The thinning ozone layer 174
7.1 The ozone layer 174
7.2 Direct health effects of increased ultraviolet radiation exposure 181
7.3 Indirect effects upon human populations 194
8 Soil and water: loaves and fishes 203
8.1 Soil: source of sustenance 203
8.2 Intensive agriculture 212
8.3 Food: hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition 215
8.4 Agriculture, food and health: other aspects 222
8.5 Water resources 225
8.6 Fewer fish for food? 231
9 Blodiversity: forests, food and pharmaceuticals 238
9. 1 The benefits of biodiversity 238
9.2 Biodiversity and human health 243
9.3 Destruction of the world's forests 252
10 The growth of cities 259
10.1 Urbanisation and social change 259
10.2 Urbanisation and human health 266
10.3 The future: designing cities for healthy living 283
11 Impediments 1: conceptual blocks 294
11.2 A lack of distance vision 295
11.3 The limitations of neoclassical economics 298
12 Impediments 2: relationships 313
12.1 Relations between rich and poor countries 313
12.2 Power relations and the Global Commons 318
13 The way ahead 326
13.1 Science: dealing with uncertainty 326
13.2 Policy initiatives 332
13.3 Social and political relations 334
Glossary 339
Index 342
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