Healing Anthropocene Syndrome: Planetary Health Requires Remediation of the Toxic Post-Truth Environment

Alan C. Logan, Susan Berman, Brian Berman, Susan Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The term “Anthropocene Syndrome” describes the wicked interrelated challenges of our time. These include, but are not limited to, unacceptable poverty (of both income and opportunity), grotesque biodiversity losses, climate change, environmental degradation, resource depletion, the global burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), health inequalities, social injustices, the spread of ultra-processed foods, consumerism and incivility in tandem with a diminished emphasis on the greater potential of humankind, efforts toward unity, or the value of fulfilment and flourishing of all humankind. Planetary health is a concept that recognizes the interdependent vitality of all natural and anthropogenic ecosystems—social, political and otherwise; it blurs the artificial lines between health at scales of person, place and planet. Promoting planetary health requires addressing the underlying pathology of “Anthropocene Syndrome” and the deeper value systems and power dynamics that promote its various signs and symptoms. Here, we focus on misinformation as a toxin that maintains the syndromic status quo—rapid dissemination of falsehoods and dark conspiracies on social media, fake news, alternative facts and medical misinformation described by the World Health Organization as an “infodemic”. In the context of planetary health, we explore the historical antecedents of this “infodemic” and underscore an urgent need to remediate the misinformation mess. It is our contention that education (especially in early life) emphasizing mindfulness and understanding of the mechanisms by which propaganda is spread (and unhealthy products are marketed) is essential. We expand the discourse on positive social contagion and argue that empowerment through education can help lead to an information transformation with the aim of flourishing along every link in the person, place and planet continuum.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChallenges
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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