The biosphere is a delicate and dynamic system of organic and inorganic matter and energy. The health of this system is essential to all life on the planet and yet the actions of humanity threaten to unravel its fragile composition. Many of the problems that face modern society and threaten the quality of life for future generations are a direct result of our failure to forge a respectful attitude toward the planet we live on – the source of our life. We have failed to develop a positive human ecology.
This gap in human thought and action is reflected most dramatically in the way we use the resources of nature in our daily lives. Much of this is done unwittingly and a result of social convention. One of the most commonly ignored elements of this misuse is our relationship to the food we eat.
The modern diet is the direct cause of the rise of degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and stroke in the affluent countries of the world. It is also a primary cause of increased pollution of the environment by inefficient harmful practices in farming and the meat and dairy industry in particular. The combination of these two factors influences greatly the rise of cost in health care systems and contributes to the problems of adequate food supplies to the poor.
Governments have shown unwillingness to address this issue in a meaningful way allowing the international food industry to control and manage food supplies often with subsidies that make less nutritious foods more available to the poor.
If this situation is to be changed for the better it will take urgent action in the arena of public education that leads to a shift in consumption patterns. Such education is not dependent on increased scientific research; that is already there. What is required is effective communication of the facts combined with practical strategies that instruct individuals in the ways they can improve their personal health while knowing that they are also contributing to environmental stewardship and social justice. The purpose of the Human Ecology Project is to provide the information, inspiration and practical knowhow to make that process possible.
The Human Ecology Project
The vision of the Human Ecology Project is a very simple one. We believe that a healthy future for human life on earth is possible. It will require a new set of values rooted in a deeper understanding of our relationship with nature and practical strategies for a healthy and ecologically sound way of life. Many people are concerned about global warming and other environmental issues there is often frustration regarding the kind of action that can create positive results. The beginning of this process must be the individual. It is only through creating a “critical mass” of individual action that we can shift the present path of cultural and environmental decay in a life affirming direction.
The goal of the Human Ecology Project is to stimulate thought and action leading to a higher level of health within society and in the relationship between human activity and nature. To accomplish this end a creative fusion of natural health professionals, scientists, ecologists, political activists and artists will combine skills and talents to powerfully communicate a vision of health and environmental integrity to the general public, governments and professional bodies.
The project will provide the inspiration and education essential for creating a practical and effective approach to individual health that places healthy living within the larger context of disease prevention, environmental stewardship and the ecological ethic essential to meet the challenges of our times.
The diet developed largely in America and spreading rapidly into Europe is a diet high in animal protein, fat and simple sugars. This diet has been cited in scientific literature over the past twenty years as one of the major causes of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. The statistical basis of these phenomena is irrefutable and yet governments have not shown the courage or leadership to challenge the international food industry to conform to more rigorous nutritional standards.
The WHO estimates that between 60 and 75% of degenerative disease can be prevented; agribusiness, the meat industry, the dairy industry and food manufacturers have been allowed to influence government policies with no attention to social nutritional needs.
The stress on national health care systems, regardless of the source of payment, will continue to increase as North America and Europe experience an aging population with higher expectations and rising cost of treatment. Prevention and education are the only answer.
The environmental impact of the food industry is second to none. This impact is generated from several sources:
- Damage and destruction to Rain-forests through land clearing for animal food
- Long distance transport of feed and processed meat and dairy products
- Excessive use of water resources for both feed and animal growth
- Toxic run off of animal waste, often polluted with growth hormones
- Methane gas from cows
The energy that powers human life is food. Proper access to food supplies on a regional basis must be the goal of any global response to the issues of poor nutrition and the waste of resources. Right now the land resources of the planet are largely consumed by large corporations that grow food to be shipped long distances. In emerging economies this often means that food for local consumption needs to be imported, driving prices high and undermining regional self-sufficiency.
The impact of improper use of food resources is often dependent on direct or indirect subsidies that artificially depress the costs on the most harmful agricultural products meaning that the poor can only afford poor nutrition. The cost of this situation in human life and on national economies is steadily rising along with the cost of treating increasing cases of heart disease, diabetes and cancer and will continue to do so unless action is taken.
The problems described above have a high degree of complexity. Food is not only an issue of nutrition it is also an issue of culture and emotion. The food industry is massive and resists and change that shifts power away from the corporation and into the community at large. The only actions that can stimulate essential changes are shifts in consumption.
The Human Ecology Project has as its goal to dramatically provoke and support a shift in food consumption. Along with education to enlighten the public to the scale of the problem and to provide education of the practical steps needed to eat a healthy and ecologically sane diet, we have a precise and measurable goal in mind. The attainment of this goal would result in a decrease in obesity, heart disease and some cancers as well as make a profound contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gasses.
Our goal is to stimulate a 20% reduction in meat and dairy consumption in North America and Western Europe by the year 2020. This is a bold goal but must be worked toward. Our campaign – A 20/20 vision of a Healthy Planet – will be launched in late 2009 or early 2010. This will be our first project.
Many people know about the dangers of the modern diet, they simply don’t know how to go about the change. Through the internet, film, publications and live presentation this message can be presented in a dynamic and effective way that inspires both young and old to contribute to their own wellbeing as well as the health of the planet – This is the goal of the Human Ecology Project.
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