Renowned Sociologist Discusses Synergy of Project Save the World and the One Health Approaches

Submitted to the One Health Initiative website January 18, 2020 by Metta Spencer, PhD  Dr. Spencer is president of Science for Peace, a Canadian organization of natural and social scientists based in Toronto.  The One Health Initiative team is pleased to present Professor Emeritus Spencer’s commentary:

Millions of people around the world are actively working to save humankind from six global catastrophes: war and the proliferation of weapons (especially nuclear); global warming; famine; pandemics; radioactive contamination; and cyberattacks. Since these disasters are causally interdependent, we would benefit from addressing them as a system, rather than as separate problems. Indeed, a brief set of policy changes could greatly reduce the risk of them all. 

A two-day forum met in Toronto in May, 2018 with the intention of compiling just such a list of proposals. After listening one day to to experts on the six threats, the participants gathered in break-out groups and chose the 25 that became the “Platform for Survival.” This list resembles the platform of a political party or the currently popular “Green New Deal,” except that it is relevant in every country of the world, whereas most political platforms are only national in scope. 

Activists and researchers addressing these problems also need a common “meeting place,” for sharing ideas and developing actions. Hence Project Save the World was formed after the forum, and has developed such a website: . It is open to the public, but also presents resources for activists. Each week, our editor conducts a one-hour-long video interview with one or several persons about a particular global issue. Those videos are disseminated on social media and kept on the website itself. (See An audio podcast version is also available on the website and elsewhere. 

The most recent feature of the website is a section called “Global Projects.” Upon request, we offer a free page to any progressive campaign or network in the world that is global in scope and that is working on “saving the world.” One of these pages is a campaigns called “Promote One Health Initiatives.“ *Dr. Laura Kahn of Princeton University is its contact person. Each such page displays its mission statement, a list of URLs to like-minded groups, and a comments column where anyone can post articles or opinions, and can reply to others. (See .)

There is a great similarity between Project Save the World itself and “One Health,” in that both approaches are alert to the common origins of a problem in “inter-disciplinary” factors. For example, One Health physicians and veterinarians can jointly work on diseases caused by the same pathogen or by a common environmental hazard, including climate change. 

Likewise, Project Save the World recognizes that famine and pandemics go together, and is often caused more by political factors than by nature or technology or the economy. We also regard both war (or even the production of weaponry) and global warming as relevant causes of famine and pandemics.  Moreover, war and weaponry can both cause, and be caused by global warming (armed forces inevitably produce vast amounts of greenhouse gas). 

All of these global threats are linked. Cyberattacks are obviously but a new form of warfare. Radioactivity from such sites as Chernobyl, Hanford, Fukushima, the Marshall Islands must be addressed either by shutting down all nuclear power and plutonium production plants, or by more extensive safety measures than are required today. The One Health initiative no doubt also sees radioactive contamination as a problem within its purview.

Hence we see a great overlap between One Health and Project Save the World. Both pay attention to the  connections among phenomena that may go beyond the professional expertise of the practitioner. Each requires, therefore, partnerships with other professionals.

Project Save the World and One Health are transnational and transdisciplinary approaches.  Let’s work together! Please use the page on our website for communicating with your own activists and for reaching out to a wider community of people who are also working to save the world. 

*Physician Laura H. Kahn, MD, MPH, MPP, Research Scholar, Program on Science and Global Security, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, is a co-founder of the One Health Initiative team/website and author of the book One Health and the Politics of Antimicrobial Resistance