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Report Shows Global Expansion has Negative Effects on Human Health

A new study has found that environmental pollution is even more damaging to human health than previously thought. Read more about the shocking results and what you can do about it below.
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Our world is constantly changing and new studies are released every day that are designed to improve health, find out how the body works, and find new cures for diseases.

However, a new study has found that all of our beneficial health advancements could be completely destroyed if the current trend of environmental mistreatment continues. The peer-reviewed data was compiled into a 60-page report published by The Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health. The report states that the decline of bees and other environmental dangers are drastically and quickly affecting the quality of human health.

The study researchers found that climate change combined with the degradation of the world’s natural resources is set to reverse all health gains that humans have made in the past 150 years.

Study Details

Researchers in the study examined hundreds of studies and reports on human development, health advancements, and environmental risks. The study authors found that to date, the development of agriculture, industry, and human health have come at the expense of the environment. However, the researchers found that the expansion of agriculture and industry has become too large for the world to sustain, and is starting to negatively affect public health.

According to the report, humans have affected the earth in the following ways:

  • One-third of all ice and desert-free land is used for pasture and cropland. 
  • Half of all freshwater is used for humans.
  • Over 2.3 million km of primary forests have been cut down since 2000.
  • 90 percent of all fisheries are harvested at 90 percent capacity or higher.
  • Energy and water management has altered 60 percent of the world’s rivers.
  • An estimated 60 percent of the world’s ecosystems are operating at unsustainable levels, including water quality and air quality.
  • A 2006 WHO report estimates that 25 percent of all global diseases are caused by environmental factors such as contaminated water, air pollution, and injuries.
  • The damage of coral reefs, mangroves, and wetlands has led to increased damage from tsunamis and storm surges.
  • Animal and insect species are dying at a rate 100 times faster than what is seen in fossil records.
  • Most wild species have had their population cut almost in half in the past 50 years.
  • Industry byproducts, such as methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide are at the highest levels they have ever been.

In short, humanity’s quest to control and dominate the earth is rapidly destroying it. However, until recently, the damaging effects of human industry did not directly relate to human health. But the report shows that now the damage is so extensive that it is directly affecting human health in multiple ways. The researchers dub this event the “anthropocene,” which is a geological term for how human involvement is rapidly changing the world for the worse.

How Environmental Changes Harm Humans

According to the study authors, “By unsustainably exploiting nature’s resources, human civilization has flourished but now risks substantial health effects from the degradation of nature’s life support systems in the future.” The report indicates that the damage to the world is so great that it is starting to directly affect our health.

One direct example is the reduction in bee population.

Bees and Our Health

A study published in 2014 conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health was one of the first studies to examine the health effects of a dwindling bee population. This study attributed the decline to the frequent use of insecticides that harm bees during the winter. Both clothianidin and imidacloprid could cause bees to abandon their nest and die. Follow-up studies have found damaging effects in human studies based on the reduction in the bee population.

According to a study by the same authors as the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health, the loss of bees has compromised the number of produce crops and the nutrient quality of the crops. Bees account for about 35 percent of all food production and supply 40 percent of natural sources of folate and vitamin A. Without these two vitamins, adults and children suffer. Pregnant women and fetuses are particularly at-risk for a reduction in the nutrient quality of food.

According to the study, if all bees and pollinators were destroyed, over a quarter of a billion people would be severely deficient in both vitamin A and folate. This would directly increase birth defects, heart disease, strokes, and some cancers. The researchers estimate that this could lead to an additional 1.4 million deaths per year.

Excessive carbon dioxide in the air contributes to a significant reduction of zinc in grain crops. Zinc levels are already low in many humans, and further reduction in zinc could harm millions. Zinc deficiency is implicated in ADHD, low immunity, weight gain, premature birth, and sluggish growth. Researchers in the Lancet study attribute bee population die-off to insecticides, but also to pollution and land-loss.

Fracking Also Dangerous for Human Health

Fracking is the process of using chemicals and water to break up rocks and expose natural gas. The practice has been in use since the 1940s, but it creates extremely worrisome health dangers. Fracking is known to cause the following issues:

Health Dangers of Fracking

Air Pollution Studies indicate that about 4 percent of the methane harvested during fracking is lost into the atmosphere. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimate that this causes the same environmental damage as 3 million cars. A host of other chemicals are also released into the air during fracking, causing smog, ozone, and other noxious gases. These effects are known to cause sickness, nervous system disorders, cancer, organ damage, birth defects, and death.

Soil Pollution

Oil spills, chemicals, and contaminated water also contaminate nearby soil. According to a report from the Associated Press, drilling waste increased contaminated soil levels by over 5,000 percent over the past 10 years.

Water Pollution

The chemicals used during fracking can leach into groundwater and contaminate water sources. Fracking not only releases chemicals used in the fracking process, but also exposes natural pollutants such as heavy metals, brine water, and radioactive material.

How to Minimize Environmental Health Risks

Since the environmental issues are global, preventing them on a personal level is impossible. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of damaging environmental effects.

Promote Earth Awareness

Many individuals are not aware how precarious the health of the world is. We may never be able to completely reverse the effects of humans on the world, but by taking steps now to preserve the world’s natural resources, we can save the lives of billions of future residents.

Buy Organic

Much of the nutrient deficiencies seen in food today are seen in conventionally-raised crops. Bees are only harmed if they pollinate plants with commercial insecticides, so the fewer insecticides that are used the healthier the bee population will be. Organic foods may also contain more nutrients, and they are tastier, too.

Protect the Bees

The bee population is in serious danger. Do your part to protect bees by capturing unwanted bee colonies rather than killing them. Encourage others to save bees and forgo the use of pesticides. If you have some extra land, consider installing a bee hive. Not only will you give local bees a place to grow and stay safe, but you will also have a delicious source of allergen-fighting honey.

Avoid Industrial and Fracking Sites

If you live near a fracking site or industrial plant, or even a farm that uses pesticides and insecticides, consider moving to a cleaner area. Although the effects may not be visible right away, these industries are directly damaging your health.

Eat an Abundance of Nutrients

As nutrient levels in foods drop, it is increasingly important to ensure you get enough food nutrients. Aside from purchasing organic foods, eat as many vegetables and fruit as you can in a day. Consider supplementing for lacking nutrients. Nutrients that protect your brain health may provide the biggest benefit. Consider adding the following nutrients to your supplement routine to protect your health from environmental dangers:

Essential Nutrients

Iodine: Iodine is essential for brain health and for proper hormone production. Studies indicate that individuals with low iodine levels typically perform worse in schools than individuals with higher iodine levels.

Zinc: Zinc levels are dropping rapidly in modern grains. Zinc is extremely important for the proper function of the brain and the immune system. Make sure your zinc levels are boosted every day.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is another nutrient that is declining in food produced through conventional methods. Add vitamin A to your supplement routine to boost your health and prevent increased risks for stroke and heart problems.

Huperzine A: Huperzine A is a general brain-booster. It increases alertness, cognitive processing, and other basic brain functions.

Choline: Choline is a powerful brain food, typically found in eggs. Choline is responsible for boosting activity and mental alacrity in the brain.

B vitamins: B vitamins are essential for health, but many B vitamins come from seafood, which can be contaminated with pollutants and heavy metals. If you don’t want to risk eating seafood, you can supplement with B vitamins instead.

Gingko biloba: Gingko biloba increases blood flow to the brain, ensuring that the nutrients you do eat get there.


Garden with Heirloom Seeds

The nutrient profile in vegetables and fruits has dropped over the past decades. Some research indicates that as vegetables and fruit was altered to be larger, the nutrient content has dropped. Additionally, food starts to lose nutrients the instant it is picked, so the longer the journey from the plant to your table, the fewer nutrients you are getting. When you garden with heirloom seeds, you avoid some of the nutrient deficiencies in grocery store produce and prevent the loss of nutrients.

Environmental Protection Starts with You

Our quick global expansion with little regard for how it affects the world is starting to directly cause problems in the human population. This is a serious risk to not only future generations, but also to our health today. Although it is impossible for one individual to make a global environmental difference (unless you are an environmental scientist), steps you take today can protect your health and raise awareness about the importance of protecting our earth for future generations. With a little more care, we can prevent our habits from completely destroying the world and ourselves in the process.

Sources


http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)60901-1/fulltext

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/study-strengthens-link-between-neonicotinoids-and-collapse-of-honey-bee-colonies/

http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html

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