Challenges for health in the Anthropocene epochBMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l460 (Published 04 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l460
All rapid responses
I am convinced that the human species is “doing its worst” for the health of the planet (though I am not persuaded that there is such a thing as the Anthropocene Epoch, attractive sounding though it is).
But let us look at some “criminal” acts of mankind.
1. The pursuit of planetary travel by USSR, USA, CHINA, INDIA.
Would Prof Haynes and colleagues agree that this activity, howsoever benign in intentions, is a malignant invasion of the universe?
2. Nuclear science - be it the bomb or the rocket propulsion for ostensibly peaceful purposes.
No one has yet invented a means of safe disposal of the products. Yet, USA, Russia, China, Japan, France, India, etc are blithely continuing in this activity.
3. Climbing summits. Every year the world puffs up its chest as yet another mountaineer wastes millions of calories in useless summiteering.
Enough to start with. Perhaps Prof Haynes and colleagues will tell me if I am wrong? If I am right, would they please start a movement? Thank you
Competing interests: A desire to see the planet survive for my descendants.
As Haines and colleagues note, Humanity can flourish within certain planetary boundaries. To 'flourish', populations need a certain background of mental wellbeing and, especially when faced with dramatic changes in their environment, mental resilience. Fearful, poorly understood events (like a catastrophic flood or epidemic ) not only threaten health, they can undermine a population's capacity to respond: through panic, scapegoating, social disorganisation - and internal conflict. Only today I was reading in the new Oxford Textbook of Public Mental Health about the public health implications of social disorganisation and violence (e.g. the 11,000 terrorist attacks reported in 2015). However, the same Textbook also demonstrates that we are learning quite a lot about mental resilience, too. If our descendants are to survive and adapt through the Anthropocene, Humanity must nurture that dimension of resilience across all ages and in all communities.
 Haines A, Scheelbeek P, Abbassi K. Challenges for health in the Anthropocene epoch. BMJ 2019;364:l460.
 Caan W. Robust well-being. Journal of Public Mental Health 2016; 15: 141-49.
 Caan W. Chekhov’s Corner: “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster. Journal of Public Health 2015; 37: 744-745.
 Stewart-Brown S. Resilience and well-being. Pages 503-511 in: The Oxford Textbook of Public Mental Health. Oxford, OUP, 2018.
Competing interests: I was involved in the Global Sustainability Institute (see Caan W. An unhealthy planet creates climate refugees. So What? 2017; 9: 6-7).