May 26, 2004
New Educational Website Highlights Connections Between Human Health, Climate and Ecosystem Change
Site Offers Facts Behind Disaster Film, “The Day After Tomorrow”
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is launching a new educational website that focuses on global warming and other environmental threats and their links to human health. EcoHealth (www.ecohealth101.org) is for students, teachers and anyone interested in understanding the relationship between our health and the health of our planet.
EcoHealth offers cutting-edge science based on graduate-level course material from Johns Hopkins University. Presented in a visually-vibrant and lively format, the site features photos, diagrams, maps and video clips; standards-based lesson plans; a news page and a glossary with many terms not yet found in household dictionaries.
The launch of the new website, which was more than two years in the making, coincides with the release of the Hollywood thriller, “The Day After Tomorrow,” which depicts massive destruction caused by rapid global climate change.
“The film’s premise is based on global warming theory, whereby the infusion of fresh water into the North Atlantic from the melting of Greenland’s glaciers stops Gulf Stream water circulation,” said EcoHealth project leader Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This is a low-probability scenario, but climate change in the real world is a significant concern.” He added, “Few people understand how global warming can affect their own health and the health of the planet. Our website is an in-depth educational resource, particularly engaging for students and teachers in middle and high schools. The timing of the movie release is coincidental but fortunate for our website.”
“It is vital for students of all ages to discuss issues that directly influence their lives and health. We believe that the EcoHealth website helps sort the science from the sound bites, and demonstrates the connections between human health and environmental changes in our own back yard and on the other side of the world,” said Marjorie L. Share, creative and content director of EcoHealth and former director of education at the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Students and teachers who have tested the site have been extremely enthusiastic and find in it meaningful actions that they can take to make a difference.”
The Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization are partners on the website; a Spanish translation of the site will be online later this fall.
Taking Our Temperature (Global warming and its consequences)
- How climate change can spark extreme weather, including violent storms, floods, droughts and hurricanes
- The risk of new epidemics: Cholera, Dengue fever, SARS, West Nile virus, Malaria, Chagas’ disease
- Why El Nino offers a “sneak preview” of our climate’s future
Solutions to global warming
Hole in the Zone (Stratospheric ozone depletion)
- How scientists discovered the ozone hole
- The international and individual efforts to protect the ozone layer
- Related health effects
Unbalancing Act (How human actions disrupt the balance of nature)
- Modern agriculture, deforestation, urbanization, construction of dams—and their effect on biodiversity and the spread of disease
- How plants are nature’s medicine
- Secrets of animal behavior that could boost human health
What’s Left to Eat? (How to provide nutritional food and safe drinking water)
- Water scarcity, food supplies, malnutrition and the costs of food
- The promises and perils of genetic engineering, industrial farming, reliance on chemicals and the growth of fish farming
- The crucial role that worms, bees and nematodes play on even the most sophisticated farms
Our Small World (Globalization and related opportunities and costs)
- Fighting diseases without borders
- Policing pollution in a global era
- Understanding the “bio” in bioterrorism
Funding for the website was provided by The Gottesman Fund, The New York Community Trust, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, The Overbrook Foundation, The Consortium for Conservation Medicine, Wildlife Trust, Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer Seed Grant Fund, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the Johns Hopkins Program on Health Effects of Global Environmental Change.