Ecology is both blessed and burdened by romanticism, with a legacy that is multi-edged for health. The prefix ‘eco-’ can carry a cultural and political (subversive) baggage, associated with motivating environmental activism. Ecology is also practiced as a technical ‘science’, with quantitative and deterministic leanings and a biophysical emphasis. A challenge for planetary health is to avoid lapsing into, or rejecting, either position. A related opportunity is to adopt ecological thought that offers a rich entrance to understanding living systems: a relationality of connectedness, interdependence, and reciprocity to understand health in a complex and uncertain world. Planetary health offers a global scale framing; we regard its potential as equivalent to the degree to which it can embrace, at its core, ecological thought, and develop its own political narrative.
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