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I'm Samuel Myers, senior research scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I study how our global transformation of Earth's natural systems impacts human health and nutrition. AMA!
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Hello, reddit! I’m Samuel Myers, a senior research scientist in the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and I’m here to talk about Planetary Health. As part of my Planetary Health research, I lead five multidisciplinary research teams investigating 1) the global nutritional impacts of rising concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere; 2) the health impacts of land management decisions in SE Asia associated with forest fires and particulate air pollution; 3) the nutritional impacts of reduced access to wildlife (bushmeat) in the diet in Madagascar; 4) the local (in Madagascar) and global consequences of fisheries decline for human nutrition and health; and 5) the impact of animal pollinator declines on human nutrition at a global scale. Planetary health is a growing field focused on understanding the many ways that human transformation of all of Earth’s natural systems—the climate, oceans, land use, freshwater systems, and other ecosystems—impacts human health. I recently authored two studies in The Lancet that showed changing environmental conditions around the globe caused by human activity could negatively impact the health of millions of people by altering the amount and quality of key crops. One study found that decreasing numbers of food pollinators such as bees—falling in part due to pesticide use and destruction of habitats—could lead to declines in nutrient-rich crops that have been linked with staving off disease. A second study found that increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) could lead to lower levels of zinc in food and thus to greatly expanded zinc deficiency. You can read an article about both of these studies here. If you are interested, you can find some of my research articles, radio interviews (Living on Earth, Morning Edition, Quirks and Quarks) and talks here. I’ll be here at 1:00 p.m. EST to answer your questions; ask me anything! Edit 2:45 p.m.: Unfortunately, I have to sign off now. Thank you so much for your questions! I enjoyed chatting with you about this important topic. You can always visit my website to stay up to date on the latest research from me and my team.