The Future of Equitable Public Health
The Eco-Futures independent study research and design project had public health at its core, as climate change is directly related. This thinking was based upon the Institute of Medicine’s definition of public health, “Public health is what we as a society collectively do to ensure the conditions for all people to be healthy.” The rising global temperatures caused by the climate crisis threatens the health of all living things and corresponding systems. There is a scientifically proven correlation between an increase in extreme nature disasters — hurricanes, superstorms, pandemics, wildfires, floods, and climate change. The climate crisis has also affected basic access to safe food and water across the world. These disasters are more commonly mental and physical health hazards to marginalized groups who do not have the means to flee. According to Tyron Winter of What Design Can Do, “Author Glenn A. Albrecht coined the term Solastalgia’, meaning a form of mental or existential distress caused by environmental change. Symptoms that are familiar to those experienced and expressed by the Eco-Anxious.” The goal of the study was to learn and build on previous knowledge to construct fictional just futures. Scenario world-order-building methods were used to consider future implications of our current actions in the Anthropocene. As the Kresge Foundation stated, “Given the multiple uncertainties facing public health, scenarios are needed to consider plausible alternative paths for the field in order to choose the best way forward.” With an ever changing social landscape, government officials and authority figures will need new ways to navigate the challenges ahead. We will need to know the future that we want to build, one that excludes the western delusions of individualism, infinite growth and superiority. Societal paradigm shifts to the post-digital, post-human, post-colonialist, post-capitalist world are crucial and should be elevated.