About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 2, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 41
Web Site Highlights Links Between Human and Ecosystem Change

By Tim Parsons
School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has launched a new educational Web site that focuses on global warming and other environmental threats and their links to human health. EcoHealth, which can be found at is for students, teachers and anyone interested in understanding the relationship between our health and the health of our planet.

Presented in a visually vibrant and lively format, EcoHealth offers cutting-edge science based on graduate-level course material from Johns Hopkins. The site features photos, diagrams, maps, video clips, standards-based lesson plans, a news page and a glossary with many terms not yet found in household dictionaries.

The launch of the Web site, which was more than two years in the making, coincides with the release of the Hollywood thriller The Day After Tomorrow, which depicts massive destruction caused by rapid global climate change.

"The film's premise is based on global warming theory, whereby the infusion of fresh water into the North Atlantic from the melting of Greenland's glaciers stops Gulf Stream water circulation," said EcoHealth project leader Jonathan Patz, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the Bloomberg School. "This is a low-probability scenario, but climate change in the real world is a significant concern.

"Few people understand how global warming can affect their own health and the health of the planet," he continued. "Our Web site is an in-depth educational resource, particularly engaging for students and teachers in middle and high schools. The timing of the movie release is coincidental but fortunate for our Web site."

Marjorie L. Share, creative and content director of EcoHealth, said, "It is vital for students of all ages to discuss issues that directly influence their lives and health. We believe that the EcoHealth Web site helps sort the science from the sound bites and demonstrates the connections between human health and environmental changes in our own backyard and on the other side of the world," said Share, former director of education at the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "Students and teachers who have tested the site have been extremely enthusiastic."

The Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization are partners on the Web site; a Spanish translation of the site will be online later this fall. EcoHealth covers five major topics:

Taking Our Temperature looks at how climate change can spark extreme weather, including violent storms, floods, droughts and hurricanes; the risk of new epidemics, among them cholera, dengue fever, SARS, West Nile virus, malaria and Chagas' disease; and why El Nino offers a "sneak preview" of our climate's future.

Solutions to Global Warming explains how scientists discovered the ozone hole, the international and individual efforts to protect the ozone layer and related health effects.

Unbalancing Act addresses modern agriculture, deforestation, urbanization and construction of dams--and their effect on biodiversity and the spread of disease; how plants are nature's medicine; and secrets of animal behavior that could boost human health.

What's Left to Eat? focuses on water scarcity, food supplies, malnutrition and the costs of food; the promises and perils of genetic engineering, industrial farming, reliance on chemicals and the growth of fish farming; and the crucial role that worms, bees and nematodes play on even the most sophisticated farms.

Our Small World looks at issues related to globalization, such as fighting diseases without borders, policing pollution in a global era and understanding the "bio" in bioterrorism.

Funding for EcoHealth was provided by the Gottesman Fund, New York Community Trust, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Overbrook Foundation, Consortium for Conservation Medicine, Wildlife Trust, Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer Seed Grant Fund, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and the Johns Hopkins Program on Health Effects of Global Environmental Change.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |