Summary and Info
While the author does mention the issue of mental health in relationship to our wacked-out species within the planet's growing urban population, I think he misses an opportunity to consider the obvious that the human ecologist Paul Shepard covered in his book NATURE AND MANDESS: our species developed into what it is biologically and psychologically in the Pleistocene. When that 'world' ended thousands of years ago, our species--in the blink of eye evolutionarily speaking--was not equipped in its brain to deal with the changes. The birhrate, and humane methods of raising children changed over night as well. Shepard seems to argue that we literally went 'nuts' as a result (agriculture, wars, walled chaotic cities, shorter life spans of dubious quality during the rise of ag, psychotic leaders, strange other-worldly monotheistic religious-belief systems, George Bush..need I go on?)
I bring up Shepard because this author is aware of his work. McMichael says on page 21: "We can thus understand, says Shepard, the inner human needs for contact with wilderness, with animal species, and with symbolic place. To depart from the conditions, the rhythms, and the interdependence of the natural world is both to stunt our own human essence and to risk damaging the environment's support systems."
Here is the health/environment connection that McMichael only alludes to but which may end up being THE most critical:
Our species--now alomost completely devoid of ANY connection to a rapidly disappearing natural environment--, and which is now rapidly cramming itself into urban slums when it's not waging wars,(See Davis, Planet of Slums), has virtually gone crazy, will continue to get crazier, and because of such large-scale 'mental illness' if you will, has little hope of gettig the 'treatment' Shepard called for in his book.
The prescriptions and predictions in McMichael's book are no more or less than what one finds in other recent evironmental books (i.e., will we use our brains and survive, or use our brains to kill ourselves?) Perhaps the question is more accurately: can a neurotic species like man ever regain its mental health in time to save a dying planet?
More About the Author
Anthony John McMichael, MBBS, PhD (3 October 1942 – 26 September 2014) was an Australian epidemiologist who retired from the Australian National University in 2012.
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