Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity

January 13, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

Please join the Environmental Change and Security Program for a discussion of

Sustaining Life: How Human Health Depends on Biodiversity


Eric Chivian, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Michael Wright, Managing Director, Natural Capital Project
Thomas Lovejoy, Biodiversity Chair, The Heinz Center (opening remarks)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
5th Floor Conference Room
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Webcast live at

Please RSVP to with your name and affiliation.

Earth’s biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming rate. While many books have focused on the expected ecological consequences, Sustaining Life is the first book to examine the full range of threats that diminishing biodiversity poses to human health. Edited and written by Harvard Medical School physicians Eric Chivian and Aaron Bernstein, along with more than 100 leading scientists, Sustaining Life presents a comprehensive and sobering view of how human medicine, biomedical research, the emergence and spread of infectious diseases, and the production of food all depend on the planet’s dwindling biodiversity. Sustaining Life argues that we can no longer afford to view ourselves as separate from the natural world.

Eric Chivian is the founder and director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment, as well as an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, at Harvard Medical School. In 1980, he co-founded International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. During the past 17 years, he has worked to involve physicians in efforts to protect the environment, and to increase public understanding of the potential human health consequences of global environmental change. He was senior editor and author of MIT Press’s Critical Condition: Human Health and the Environment. In 2008, Time magazine included Chivian and Reverend Richard Cizik among their 100 Most Influential People in the World, for their work organizing scientists and evangelicals to protect the global environment.

Michael Wright is the managing director of the Natural Capital Project, a joint venture among The Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the World Wildlife Fund. From 2002 to 2007, he was director of conservation and sustainable development at the MacArthur Foundation. From 1994 to 2002, he served as president and chief executive officer of the African Wildlife Foundation. In 1980, Wright served as an assistant director of President Jimmy Carter’s Task Force on Global Resources and Environment. He also helped launch TNC’s international program in 1974 and served as its first director until 1979.

Thomas Lovejoy is biodiversity chair at the H. John Heinz III Center, where he served as president from 2002 to 2008. Previously, he was the World Bank’s chief biodiversity advisor and lead specialist for environment for Latin America and the Caribbean, and senior advisor to the president of the United Nations Foundation. In 2001, he was awarded the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Lovejoy served on science and environmental councils or committees under the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations. He is co-chair of the Environmental Change and Security Program’s advisory committee.

If you are interested, but unable to attend the event, please tune into the live or archived webcast at The webcast will begin approximately 10 minutes after the posted meeting time. You will need Windows Media Player to watch the webcast. To download the free player, visit:

Location: Woodrow Wilson Center at the Ronald Reagan Building: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (“Federal Triangle” stop on Blue/Orange Line), 5th Floor Conference Room. A map to the Center is available at Note: Photo identification is required to enter the building. Please allow additional time to pass through security.

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