Florida researchers have recently touched upon an issue that is all too often swept under the carpet when it comes to maintaining good health: the environment. Natural ecosystems are the reason we are alive in the first place, of course, but they also have the capacity to dictate whether we live our lives in good health or bad health.
Think about the natural environment you live in. Is the water safe to drink? How treated is it? Is it so full of chlorine that you worry about the long-term consequences of drinking it day after day? What about the air you breathe? Is it full of pollutants? Perhaps the soil in and around your city is contaminated with chemicals used in manufacturing and other types of industries. All of these
chemicals together can help to usher in serious conditions like cancer, asthma, immune disorders, and mental illness.
Not used to thinking about the environment as a buffer against ill health? Maybe it’s time to change the way you think and learn to safeguard the natural habitat surrounding your home and work. Remember that it’s not just the health of adults affected by a stressed-out natural ecosystem — it’s that of kids, too. These children are especially vulnerable to the outdoor environment they live in: whatever is wrong with the air, water, or soil will be reflected in the health of children living with these elements.
There comes a point when searching for treatments for health problems caused by a toxic environment becomes almost a distraction. It’s important, the Florida researchers say, to value the health of natural ecosystems. Just because nature provides air, water and soil for free, doesn’t mean they have zero value.
The researchers’ health advice? Even though we don’t pay for these things, we pay significantly for their loss in terms of wastewater treatment, greenhouse gases (read this article for more on climate change and our health), increased illnesses, reduced soil fertility and even losses in those images of nature that contribute to our basic happiness and mental health.