The balance of nature is not a status quo; it is fluid, ever shifting, in a constant state of adjustment. Man, too, is part of this balance. Sometimes the balance is in his favor; sometimes- and all too often through his own activities – it is shifted to his disadvantage.
― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
All Hazards, One Framework
Natural and man-made disasters have become featured news stories with increasing frequency in recent years. Often, the life and health of affected populations are presented in a fairly species-specific manner. There is renewed momentum, however, towards more synergistic models of shared environments. To that end, emergency managers and policy makers worldwide are bringing together subject matter experts to create all-hazards frameworks across areas of human activity, animal welfare, and environmental concerns. This represents a first global effort to combine the tenets of One Health, One Nature, and One Medicine into a One Framework model.
In the 1960s, two landmark publications brought the influence of human activity on the inherent balances in nature to the forefront. Rachel Carson was a marine scientist and environmental champion who detailed the deleterious effects of pesticides, most notably DDT, in Silent Spring (1962). Despite facing significant criticism, she did not shy from publicizing the scientific facts and launched what would become the modern environmental movement. Released in 1964, Veterinary Medicine and Human Health by Dr. Calvin Schwabe proposed that veterinary and human healthcare professionals work together to meet the challenges of zoonotic diseases. He also is given credit for coining the phrase “One Medicine”, as he proposed this approach in his book. Popularized more recently, the phrases “One Health” and “One Nature” are global environmental models emphasizing the delicate balance between humans, animals, and plants.
While the interplay of medicine, health, and nature is an important construct, an all-hazards perspective introduces topics beyond the typical shared habitats. Environments that are social, economic, and political are each a specialized framework that fall into the greater One Framework paradigm. Simple disasters that are unavoidable – pandemic, hurricane, floods, tornado or blizzard – are appreciated as far more complex, interconnected systems when the impact of such events on social, economic, and political frameworks is taken into account. Supply chains, housing, transportation, and infrastructure also are interconnected systems. And every time that one such system is emphasized to the exclusion of another, the consequences ripple throughout the One Framework.
Striking a balance and considering the whole is integral to a “One Framework” paradigm. Nature is designed to balance itself. Like social, economic, and political systems, nature is predictable by studying its history. Each of these systems, including nature, provides us with everything that we need to succeed or fail in the face of adversity. Looking to the past for lessons to apply to future disasters provides insights, strengthening an all-hazards readiness for the One Framework. History is ignored at our species’ peril. If we continue to ignore the complex interactions of one health/nature/medicine in the One Framework, nature eventually may remove us from the playing field.
When the unavoidable happens, if we paid attention to all environments and factors along the way, we will have all the lessons that we need to meet these difficult challenges. Collective, cooperative approaches will optimize the productive vs destructive path and address gaps, regardless of what types of environments are involved. The humility to learn from the disasters that we cannot avoid and the community to work synergistically to apply the best balanced solution for all lessons combined defines a One Framework foundation. Like jigsaw puzzles, every piece (framework) of every environment is interconnected and the entire picture cannot be appreciated fully without all pieces in place.
Allison A. Sakara