Ecology, Ethics, and Interdependence: Biking to Work can Improve Health
The Mind & Life Institute is a non-profit organization that seeks to understand the human mind and the benefits of contemplative practices through an integrated mode of knowing that combines first person knowledge from the world’s contemplative traditions with methods and findings from contemporary scientific inquiry.
The institute organizes Mind and Life Dialogues with the Dalai Lama, publications with report on these dialogues, a research institute, and other programs.
The “Ecology, Ethics, and Interdependence,” Mind and Life XXII conference with the Dalai Lama and scholars, activitsts, and ecological scientists was held in Charamsalasa, India from October 17-21, 2011. The sessions were recorded, and you can watch sessions from the conference online.
In Session 2 of the conference : Interdependence Between the Environment and Our Health: Risk and Opportunities the session began with a presentation by Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and lead author of a new study highlighting the “four-way win” that comes with swapping cars for bikes: reduced greenhouse emissions and gains in air quality, fitness and the economy. Patz is also a professor in Madison’s Nelson Institute and Department of Population Health Sciences.
In the study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, Patz and his team looked at the Midwest states and asked: What if during the nicest four months of the year, those residents biked instead of driving for round-trips of five miles or less? According to their study, this could save approximately four trillion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 1,100 lives and $7 billion in mortality and health care costs for the region every year.
You can watch present Patz present his study in the online video from the conference and talk about the health impacts and ethics of climate change, and the potential for environment and health improvements of interventions.
In the session, Patz said “Fighting global climate change could be one of the greatest public health opportunities we’ve had in a century. “This is where I look to your wisdom and writing,” he added. “Everything starts with the individual — we start with ourselves.”
“Wonderful,” Dalai Lama replied, bowing his head to Patz. “Wonderful. Very good.”