Jared Romero and Dr. Julia Oxford
Animal, Human, and Environmental Health are all interconnected and reliant upon one another. Humans tend to think of themselves and their actions as separate from nature, rather than part of the larger interrelated system. Our species elitist thinking has resulted in our greatest challenges going forward as a planet, such as climate change, extreme weather events and wildfires, food insecurities, increased antimicrobial resistance, zoonosis, and currently a pandemic. The One Health Solutions VIP course analyzes complex global problems and encourages the development of solutions in an attempt to slow and possibly reverse humanity's role in changing our planet and provide health for all (animals, humans, and the environment). Students chose an individual topic that they were passionate about and felt like the One Health approach could benefit. After becoming experts in their own area, they brought their expertise and we as a class chose an overarching topic to focus on the rest of the semester. The intentional creation of green and natural spaces was determined to be critical for several reasons. Soil health is instrumental in combatting climate change, antimicrobial resistance, and food insecurities. The soil and the microorganisms within the soil are capable of sequestering more carbon than the atmosphere and plants combined. Green and natural spaces act as filtration for our water systems and help prevent flooding during extreme weather events. In addition to the recreation these spaces offer for humans and our four-legged companions, green and natural spaces have been shown to reduce addictions, stress and decrease symptoms of ADD, ADHD and positively affect cognitive function. Green and natural spaces also provide the opportunity to discuss zoonoses with the public and encourage them to do their part in limiting the spread of disease. Recognition of rabies symptoms in wildlife and pets is important for the protection of us all. Also, we must be cognizant of the pathogens that our pets may spread in their feces, so it is important that we all clean up after them. We as consumers are very powerful and have the ability to spend our money at organizations that align with the core beliefs of One Health. B Corps meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. There are several companies registered as B Corps that you may recognize such as Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, New Belgium Brewing, Warby Parker, and Etsy. There are several various measures that our government officials at various levels can support as well. We identified several; such as new construction requiring green space and renewable energy, utilizing parks and government buildings as infrastructure for solar/wind energy, or as horizontal or rooftop gardens. Additionally, larger strategic plans incentivize regenerative agriculture, natural fertilizers/pesticides, joining the 30×30 initiative, creating natural wildlife corridors that maintain habitats, and creating a national water management and conservation strategy that prioritizes water. Together we will thrive and divided we will fall.
Meyer, Jessica; Petersen, Kassidi; Romero, Jared; Shusterove, Sara Rostron Lexi; Welch-Stockton, Micah; Wigfall, Cassie; and Wyer, Justyne, "The Intentional Creation of Green and Natural Spaces is Instrumental in Animal, Human and Environmental Health Going Forward" (2020). VIP 2020. 9.