On Earth Day 2023, here’s how we can think globally and act locally | Opinion (The Tennessean)

THE TENNESSEAN | More people than ever are coming together around a unified cause — the health of our planet, which is inextricably connected to the health and well-being of our people.

While not created for Earth Day, the slogan “think globally, act locally” rings true this month as we are reminded to consider the health of our shared planet in our day-to-day activities. We are doing the same at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the world’s largest conservation organization where I chair the Global Board.

Today our planet faces the accelerating loss of plant and animal species at an alarming rate, while rapidly shifting weather patterns and progressive climate change is disrupting human and natural habitats alike. As a physician, I view both crises – biodiversity loss and climate change – through a lens of their impact on the health and well-being of people.

The continuing loss of our planet’s biodiversity — such as birds, bees, butterflies, insects and other pollinators — jeopardizes food production around the world. The destruction of natural environments increases the likelihood of human exposure to novel viruses and other pathogens for which we have no cure. And increasingly volatile weather — from extreme rain events and subsequent flooding to lengthy droughts — places unprecedented pressures on our electrical grid, our nation’s aging infrastructure, our agriculture sector and on health systems responding to natural disasters.  With expanding flood zones, whole communities are at increased risk.

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