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Environmental protection and human health: time for a planetary health watch!

Updated: Jan 3

The Lancet: "The scale of human impact is such that in many areas it threatens the functioning of the natural systems that sustain the health of human civilisation."

In May, 2019, a prominent group of scientists voted to designate a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, that reflects the commencement of substantial human impact on the Earth's systems. 1 The scale of human impact is such that in many areas it threatens the functioning of the natural systems that sustain the health of human civilisation. Rockström and colleagues refer to nine planetary boundaries that if transgressed could lead to non-linear, abrupt environmental change. 2 , 3 These boundaries indicate critical risks arising from climate change, ocean acidification, depletion of stratospheric ozone, biogeochemical flows, atmospheric aerosol loading, land-system changes, global use of freshwater, biosphere integrity, and novel entities. 2 , 3 Breaching these boundaries has the potential for major, but imperfectly understood, risks to human health and wellbeing. Most of these risks are not clearly recognised or monitored, and are invisible to the policy, economic, and social systems that can help mitigate them.


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