A New Deal for Planetary Health

Wed, Sep 9, 2020 4:15 PM – 5:45 PM EDT

Download the slides here

In spite of lingering global public health problems, human well-being has never been better. In the past 65 years through scientific advancement, for example, the proportion of the world’s people living in extreme poverty has dropped from 63% to 10% in spite of a tripling of the global population. That same technological advancement that has pulled much of humanity out of extreme poverty and provided other dramatic human benefits, has also increased the human ecological footprint and exploded consumption of natural resources.

The impacts on the planet’s natural systems have been extraordinary, measured by the composition of the atmosphere, loss of biodiversity, acidification of the oceans and loss of tropical forests as well as rapidly changing environmental conditions led by climate change. Planetary Heath recognizes that the well being of humanity and degradation of the rest of the biosphere cannot remain disconnected much longer. Rapidly changing environmental conditions alter our exposures to infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, and natural hazards including heat waves, droughts, floods, fires, and tropical storms. Our species has been slow to systematically address the devastating impact we have had on the planet and human wellbeing in spite of 40 years of international attempts by the United Nations and other international bodies.

COVID-19 is forcing all sectors of society to rethink how they operate and remain resilient in a post-COVID future. Watch Island Press and SSF in an insightful discussion about the potential for A New Deal for Planetary Health. Building on the new Island Press publication, Planetary Health – Protecting Nature to Protect Ourselves, the webinar, led by the book editors Howard Frumkin and Samuel Myers, explores reframing planetary health thinking to reimagine food, energy, placemaking, chemistry, and the economy in ways that can lead to a convergence of human wellbeing and the protection of natural systems.


Howard Frumkin, MD, DrPH, – Co-Editor of Planetary Health is emeritus professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, where he was Dean from 2010-2016. He was previously head of Our Planet, Our Health at the Wellcome Trust. From 2005 to 2010 he held leadership roles at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Sam Myers, – Co-Editor of Planetary Health  works at the intersection of human health and global environmental change. He is a Principal Research Scientist, Planetary Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Planetary Health Alliance and an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and is Board Certified in Internal Medicine.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, Moderator – As executive director of APHA since 2002, Dr. Benjamin is leading the Association’s push to make America the healthiest nation in one generation. From his firsthand experience as a physician, he knows what happens when preventive care is not available and when the healthy choice is not the easy choice.

Dr. Solomon Hsiang is a Professor of Public Policy at the UCal, Berkeley, a Co-Director at the Climate Impact Lab, Research Associate at the NBER, a National Geographic Explorer, and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Dr. Hsiang directs the Global Policy Laboratory at Berkeley, where his team is integrating econometrics, spatial data science, and machine learning to answer questions that are central to rationally managing planetary resources.

Dr. Felicia Keesing is the David & Rosalie Rose Distinguished Professor of the Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing at Bard College. Dr. Keesing’s research focuses on the ecology of infectious diseases in New York’s Hudson Valley and in the savannas of central Kenya. Dr. Keesing is affiliated with the Environmental and Urban Studies, Global Public Health, and Science, Technology, and Society academic programs at Bard.

Ana V. Diez Roux, MD, PhD, MPH, is a Professor of Epidemiology in the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University.
Dr. Diez Roux is internationally known for her research on the social determinants of population health and the study of how neighborhoods affect health. Her research areas include social epidemiology and health disparities, environmental health effects, urban health, psychosocial factors in health, cardiovascular disease epidemiology, and the use of multilevel methods.