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Comment published on 11 July 2020, see Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 5004.
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Spaceship Earth Revisited: The Co-Benefits of Overcoming Biological Extinction of Experience at the Level of Person, Place and Planet

by Susan L. Prescott 1,2,*,† and Jeffrey S. Bland 2,3
1
The ORIGINS Project, Telethon Kids Institute, University of Western Australia, Perth Children’s Hospital, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia
2
inVIVO Planetary Health of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), West New York, NJ 10704, USA
3
Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Institute, Tacoma, WA 98443, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
On Behalf of inVIVO Planetary Health of the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN).
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1407; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041407
Received: 6 January 2020 / Revised: 16 February 2020 / Accepted: 18 February 2020 / Published: 21 February 2020
Extensive research underscores that we interpret the world through metaphors; moreover, common metaphors are a useful means to enhance the pursuit of personal and collective goals. In the context of planetary health—defined as the interdependent vitality of all natural and anthropogenic ecosystems (social, political and otherwise)—one enduring metaphor can be found in the concept of “Spaceship Earth”. Although not without criticism, the term “Spaceship Earth” has been useful to highlight both resource limitations and the beauty and fragility of delicate ecosystems that sustain life. Rene Dubos, who helped popularize the term, underscored the need for an exposome perspective, one that examines the total accumulated environmental exposures (both detrimental and beneficial) that predict the biological responses of the “total organism to the total environment” over time. In other words, how large-scale environmental changes affect us all personally, albeit in individualized ways. This commentary focuses the ways in which microbes, as an essential part of all ecosystems, provide a vital link between personal and planetary systems, and mediate the biopsychosocial aspects of our individualized experience—and thus health—over our life course journey. A more fine-grained understanding of these dynamics and our power to change them, personally and collectively, lies at the core of restoring “ecosystems balance” for person, place and planet. In particular, restoring human connectedness to the natural world, sense of community and shared purpose must occur in tandem with technological solutions, and will enhance individual empowerment for personal well-being, as well as our collective potential to overcome our grand challenges. Such knowledge can help shape the use of metaphor and re-imagine solutions and novel ways for restoration or rewilding of ecosystems, and the values, behaviors and attitudes to light the path toward exiting the Anthropocene. View Full-Text
Keywords: planetary health; biodiversity; microbiome; rewilding; dysbiotic drift; mental health; green space; climate change; nature relatedness; food systems; social justice; inflammation; NCDs; mindsets; personalized medicine; narrative medicine; stress; health equity; utopias; environmental health; ecology; extinction of experience; biophilosophy; health promotion; Anthropocene planetary health; biodiversity; microbiome; rewilding; dysbiotic drift; mental health; green space; climate change; nature relatedness; food systems; social justice; inflammation; NCDs; mindsets; personalized medicine; narrative medicine; stress; health equity; utopias; environmental health; ecology; extinction of experience; biophilosophy; health promotion; Anthropocene
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Prescott, S.L.; Bland, J.S. Spaceship Earth Revisited: The Co-Benefits of Overcoming Biological Extinction of Experience at the Level of Person, Place and Planet. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 1407.

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