Michael Lerner

At the heart of CHE’s work is what Ted Schettler calls the ecological paradigm of human health. This paradigm of human health has ancient roots — many indigenous peoples believed in the essential Oneness of all creation. Taoism could be said to reflect an ecological concept of human health. Ralph Waldo Emerson shared this same Taoist conception of the interconnectedness of all thing.

What has changed is that we are able to measure more and more of these profound interconnections. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are one of the best examples. Some EDCs can have life-long impacts on human health at exposure levels of parts per billion during fetal development.

But CHE is interested in more than chemical contaminants and health. We are interested in that great interface where chemicals, radiation, infectious vectors, nutrition, stress, income disparities, EMF, psychogenic stressors and untold other variables meet. We are interested in policies that protect human health in the face of this drastic revision of how we traditionally thought about such policies.

We are also deeply interested in what contributes to resilience in the face of this brave new world of ancient and modern stress factors. We often forget how many dimensions of modernity have improved health, and the power of the evidence of life expectancy that in many respects those improvements of health continue.

Finally, we are committed to science and civility in exploring these questions together. The focus on science — whichever way it points — keeps us grounded. And civility makes it safe for each of us to have our say. Welcome to the CHE blog.

Trying to Take the Long View

Steve Heilig, MPH
CHE Director of Public Health & Education

“Patience is a virtue” is wise counsel in many arenas, including both science and politics. But as 2010 speeds along, much of the American public and media seem consumed by a sense of impatience, if not disappointment, that concerns regarding health care reform, climate change, the economy and other large-scale issues have not moved more quickly towards a positive resolution over this past year. Some of that frustration is of course not only understandable, but appropriate. However, with the scope of problems facing our nation and the world, one year is hardly a fair passage of time to expect fundamental shifts in perspective and direction. Sometimes in our broad field of work a long view is not only justified, but essential.

For a bit of a reality check in CHE’s realm, take a look at the reflections of Dr. Linda Birnbaum, who in the new NIEHS newsletter reflects on her first year as director of that crucial federal agency. CHE partners will soon have the opportunity to hear from, and talk with, Dr. Birnbaum directly.

Beyond NIEHS activity, also peruse this mopnth’s newsletter for a number of new scientific and policy developments of note. Though it is hard to see signs of progress and hope in the seeming torrent of bad news, we applaud the extraordinary contributions that so many colleagues are making to improve public health for the long term. Some of the reports, meetings, activities and working groups listed in this newsletter offer ways to engage in a variety of ways. We hope you will find something of real interest to you and join us in our collective efforts.