Healthy people need a healthy planet. In other words, the health of the planet is a prerequisite for human health. This is an obvious and self-evident truth, yet our economy, our industry, our agriculture, our transport and even our food, water, medicine and hospitals all contribute to making the planet sick.

The chimneys of our factories and the noxious fumes from our cars and aeroplanes pollute the very air we breathe. Effluent from the industrial establishment fouls the water that we drink; pesticides and herbicides poison the soil and contaminate the food that we eat.

By cutting down the forest cover, we are disturbing the oxygen and carbon balance, which is, again, essential to human health. By diminishing biodiversity and the rich world of flora and fauna, we are destroying the very home of healing plants, which are still the source of the majority of our medicines. The list goes on. It should be common sense that in the interest of human health – if nothing else – the purity of the air, water and soil must be maintained, but such common sense is not common any more.

We are not even aware of what we are doing to our precious planet.

Not only are we ignorant of the dire impact of human activity on planet Earth, but we have been brainwashed into believing that converting natural wealth into financial wealth, and natural products into industrial products represents progress, development, economy and civilisation. No wonder we have forgotten the first principle, which tells us to do no harm to other people or the planet, and no wonder we have lost the wisdom of living in harmony with natural systems.

The consequence of this aggressive and harmful behaviour towards the planet is becoming more obvious day by day. In Britain alone, we spend billions of pounds on doctors and therapists, drugs and hospitals. Not only is this insufficient, it doesn’t even make us healthy; cancer, depression and obesity are increasing on an epidemic scale. Billions of pounds more are spent on researching the symptoms of such diseases. Yet hardly anyone is asking, “Why are our people so sick?” and, “What is the cause of their illness?”

If we did ask these questions the answer would be apparent. It is our disregard for and disconnection from our natural world. We take the services provided by the organic processes of the planet for granted and we have developed a blind faith in doctors and drugs, believing that one way or another, and sooner or later, science will find solutions for all our illnesses once and for all. In the meantime we are busy day in and day out creating financial and material wealth whilst losing physical, psychological and spiritual health.

To address this profound crisis a deep transformation in our consciousness is needed. As our special feature on human health and biodiversity shows, we have to recognise that our personal health must come before material wealth. In terms of quantum theory and systems theory we are the planet: our body is a microcosm of the macrocosm.

If we make our planet sick, in the end we make ourselves sick too.

Satish Kumar is Editor-in-Chief, Resurgence magazine.