by George R. Lueddeke (Author)
Like many of my colleagues, I get up each morning and read the news, listen to the commentators, and learn a bit more about the risks associated with life in today’s world to us as individuals and to the environment in which we live. I then get on with my daily life, sometimes placing a mental bookmark on the challenges we face, to which I intend to return one day in order to gain better understanding – and I store them in a mental to-do file.
Having read Dr George Lueddeke’s well researched, lucid and absorbing book about our survival – a major theme that underpins the UN-2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – it has suddenly become more difficult to place those risks in the to-do file and to deal with them perhaps at a later time. The urgency of dealing with them now becomes a clear imperative. As the book begins, the author pulls together the fragments of the various threats to our health and well-being and to our environment that we read and hear about each day. They vary from risks to human and animal health from plastics and the waste they create to the consequences from climate change and our own dietary and eating habits, and how the risks impact on the seemingly insurmountable inequalities within and between our societies. It becomes a book of current events and twenty-first century trends that will impact on our health and well-being, our planet, our future and the future of our children.
The global issues that the author highlights – poverty, inequality, health, modernity, extremism, war and peace, migration, education and climate change, to name but a few – are all interconnected in an interdependent world and must be tackled together. These issues and others are succinctly described in the book, as is the evidence that confirms them. They are presented in full detail, interspersed with quotes and anecdotes from the world’s former and present leaders in science and politics. Reading the initial chapters is uncomfortable – they amplify and make more real that which we already know and, ironically, include evidence about new technologies such as artificial intelligence that provide solutions to mitigate some of the risks, but that create new risks in themselves in a world increasingly driven by technology. There is much to grasp – and much to contemplate as we strive to make a healthy and more sustainable planet.
Early in the book it also becomes clear that mitigation of the risks we face is no longer a question of what or why but when and how. To this end, the author convincingly argues that it requires understanding and taking personal responsibility for our actions – supported by educational opportunities from early years to lifelong learning in both developing and economically more advanced nations. He takes pains to demonstrate how lessening external threats necessitates that action also be adopted collectively no matter where we live, or what we believe. From its almost resigned and gloomy beginning – where risks that are preventable are shown to be present in all aspects of our daily lives – the book gradually moves towards a blueprint of what needs to be done to allay these risks and sustain our planet. Indeed, it allocates an entire chapter to contributions by leading global organisations and major movements and the collective actions underway to support their initiatives – reasons for guarded optimism.
In Survival, George Lueddeke argues compellingly for a new worldview that will ensure that our needs as human beings become compatible with the needs required to sustain our ecosystem. His vision reflects the One Health and Well-Being concept – a ‘global unity of purpose’ requiring joint action between human and animal health and the ecosystem – as the key to creating an environment where people from all walks of life work together to ensure the sustainability of the needs for human survival, and of those of the planet.
The last few chapters and insightful Epilogue summarise the author’s ten ‘propositions for global sustainability’ and underscore the key role of future generations that must be motivated ‘to make the world work better’.
Survival by George Lueddeke is an important read about what it takes to lessen the dangers to health and well-being, and to ensure a sustainable planet. It challenges us directly to spread the message across the social and economic divide – to those of us who create risks for corporate or personal vested interest, and to those who cannot easily access the knowledge but must do so in order to sustain their future.
One of the book’s concluding comments underscores the urgency for transformative change – continued and increased collective action – in particular, recognising the importance of global responsibility for the prevention of nuclear war, global warming and genetically engineered viruses. If we fail, the author cautions, ‘the shelf life of Homo sapiens could be extremely short’. Survival is a timely wake-up call for us all.
David L Heymann MD, Centre on Global Health Security, Chatham House (London)
About the author George Lueddeke MEd PhD is an educational advisor in higher and medical education and chairs the global One Health Education Task Force for the One Health Commission and the One Health Initiative (Chapter 11). Originally from Canada he has worked in both northern and southern communities as a teacher, researcher, educational manager and developer as well as programme consultant across a wide range of disciplines/professions. In the UK he has held posts in higher education and as senior lecturer in medical education at Southampton University’s Faculty of Medicine. As an advisor he has collaborated inter alia with the NHS Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSS) Postgraduate Deanery in London, the UK Centre for Workforce Intelligence, the UK Care Quality Commission, the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the InterAction Council. Most recently, he has contributed to initiatives such as Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Education-2030, the SEEJPH Public Health Curriculum Project, the ASPHER/WHO/Imperial College professionalisation of the public health workforce, and the South Africa Medical Association (SAMA)–South Africa Veterinary Association (SAVA), among others, on the implementation of One Health and Well-Being. In addition, he chairs the One Health Global Think-Tank for Sustainable Health & Well-being’ – 2030 (GHW–2030) to encourage multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary research underpinning the sustainability of planet and people.
Dr Lueddeke has published widely on educational transformation, innovation and leadership. Previous books have included Transforming Medical Education for the 21st Century: Megatrends, Priorities and Change and Global Population Health and Well-Being for the 21st Century: Toward New Paradigms, Policy and Practice.
Invited as a plenary speaker to different corners of the world, he has presented sessions for organisations such as the UK General Medical Council, the American Medical Association, University 21 (U21) – Health Sciences Group (Millennium Goals – Dublin), the Public Health Association of South Africa, University of Sri Lanka Jayewardenepura Medical School, UK Faculty of Public Health, The Catharina Pijls Lecture on ‘Global and European Health’ (annual Maastricht Symposium), the Global Health Council, Cambridge University, the UK Veterinary Public Health Association, the World Veterinary Association-World Medical Association (Kitakyushi, Japan), the International Schools Association annual ‘Youth Leadership Encounter’ conference on ‘Worldwide Migration’ (UK) and the Arab Health Congress (Dubai).