UC Berkeley Researchers Find Link Between Human Illness And EnvironmentBy Emily Marks, UniversityHerald Reporter
Researchers at the University of California - Berkeley have found a link between human illness and environment. Apparently, sick people can create health problems for the Earth.
Their study makes the case for how humans can also cause a negative impact to the environment. Usually, human disease provides a natural check to environmental exploitation. It also suggests that quality healthcare should include how to help people manage their environment and the sustainability of the resources.
According to Kathryn Fiorella, lead author of the study, they found that people opted for more destructive fishing methods when they were ill. She was a doctoral student at Berkeley during the study, working with professor Justin Brashares.
In its official website, UC Berkeley reported that the paper will be published in the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences." The study was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation and Rocca fellowships to the researchers through the Center for African Studies at the university.
Understanding how human illness and the environment are linked is important for people around the world who cope with recurrent illness and rely on natural resources for sustenance. ichard Yuretich, program officer for the National Science Foundation's Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program, noted that healthy people are better for the environment since they are able to plan their tasks well.
He added that sick people, on the other hand, tend to want to get things done fast. This leads to the potential to become more wasteful.
Fiorella spent three months of each year of her graduate studies at Lake Victoria, a fishing community in Kenya with high disease rates and a depleted fish stock. As the community grew sicker, the exploitation of the fishery got worse.
The researchers tracked 303 households living on Lake Victoria. They collected data about household health as well as fishing habits and looked for trends during times of sickness and good health. The families were interviewed four different times over a year.