Medicine in the Anthropocene: Modern Healthcare and the Transition to an Ecologically Viable Society

Katharine Zywert

The Anthropocene, a novel geological epoch in which human activities significantly affect the course of ecological change, is transforming health systems. Faced with the converging pressures of declining resource and energy flows, the extinction of medicinal plant species, changing ecologies of disease, aging demographics, and challenges to existing welfare state policies, health systems need to find new ways to operate in an alternative social-ecological regime. Preliminary research suggests that promising strategies for adaptation could involve lowering the material and energetic throughput of health services and medical technologies by reinventing social arrangements of care and designing preventative medical interventions that incorporate broader recognition of the social, cultural, and ecological dimensions of health. This paper presents three promising alternatives for health systems in the Anthropocene: the degrowth movement, Transition Initiatives, and salutogenic design.

Posted: Sep-2016

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