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Focusing on policy for a healthier planet will also pay big dividends in human well-being and economic development, argues ACSF faculty director of environment Alex Travis in an op-ed in The Hill 

Travis and Rodewald Launch Op-Ed Series in The Hill

September 11, 2014

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Focusing on policy for a healthier planet will also pay big dividends in human well-being and economic development, argues ACSF faculty director of environment Alex Travis in an op-ed in The Hill, Capitol Hill’s number one news source. His August piece was the first in a monthly series supported by the Atkinson Center, written in alternating months by Travis and Amanda Rodewald of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Based in Washington, The Hill is Capitol Hill’s top news source.

Policymakers should not wait for an environmental crisis before taking action, Travis says. He sketches some of the connections between the climate, wildlife, and human health:

In agricultural areas in developing nations, when crops don’t come in and non-farm jobs are limited, people cope by falling back on their natural resources, such as timber and bushmeat. . . . Through the lens of One Health, we also see that deforestation and the capture, butchering, and consumption of bushmeat bring increased contact with wildlife that can facilitate the emergence and transmission of diseases. The ongoing tragedy with Ebola in western and central Africa is an excellent example of a disease whose impact on human health is clearly tied to climate change, deforestation, and harvesting of bushmeat. Treating the sick justifiably demands our attention and resources. Yet no matter how much we spend on containing and treating the illness, we are not giving it our full attention if we leave the underlying climate and wildlife connections out of news reports, policy discussions, and economic analyses.

One Health research—emphasizing the connections among human, animal, and ecosystem health—is one of ACSF’s six focus areas.

Rodewald’s editorial for September advises urgent policy action to protect 230 bird species that are either currently endangered or at risk. Summing up the State of the Birds report released on September 9, she warns: “Birds on the ‘Watch List’ come from every habitat type in the United States. The list includes every single one of Hawaii’s native forest species.”

Read op-eds by Travis and Rodewald in The Hill.