About The Site

A Brief Summary

What's happening {definitionbot=disable}to our Earth? EcoHealth explores the connection between our changing environment and our well-being.

"Earth has more people than ever before, and we are
consuming natural resources at an unprecedented rate.
New technologies have improved the quality of life for
many. But our quest for a better life is also changing
the face of the planet—and putting our health at risk."

Jonathan Patz, MD, MPH


EcoHealth (Environmental Change and Our Health) developed and produced at the world-famous Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, examines the changes that are transforming Earth and what they can mean for our health.

This website is geared to middle-school students and their teachers, and delivers scientific information in a kid-friendly, engaging, and visually-vibrant manner. Since its initial partnership with the Journey to Planet Earth television mini-series, hosted and narrated by actor Matt Damon and aired on PBS in Spring 2003 and 2004, the website has become an educational complement to this TV series, as well as a dynamic stand-alone tool for students and teachers. Since then, the site's appeal has grown far broader, reaching high-school students, and anyone interested in environmental and health issues—or simply wanting a reliable and fun resource for being able to sort the science from the sound bites. EcoHealth provides the in-depth analysis and context behind today's headline news.

"The idea for the site grew from the positive feedback following public lectures I've given on global environmental health," says Dr. Jonathan Patz, Professor and Director of the Global Health Institute, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "'Students should really learn about how their health is tied so closely to the global environment,' was the comment I often heard."

"The site is very exciting because it deals with serious and thought-provoking topics," adds Dr. Patz. "Nonetheless, it shows middle-school students how to have fun with the visual elements and discover what potential solutions exist for alleviating the negative effects of climate change and other changes to our planet."

EcoHealth partners include the World Health Organization (WHO), with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). The site was reviewed for accuracy and fairness by science, health, and environmental experts in a wide range of specialties.



Rooted in serious science: It's based upon a graduate course at the world-famous Johns Hopkins University (Bloomberg School of Public Health) in Baltimore, Maryland.

Glossary: Tailored to the site with terms and phrases that may be too new or specialized to appear in household dictionaries.

Images: Photographs, charts, graphs, maps, animations, and video clips cover
complex topics.

Resources: Explore more with links to carefully-chosen sites, whose work constitutes the frontiers of science.

Lesson Plans: Connecting vital topics to national science education standards.

A Guide to the Site for Teachers: Provides class prep and projects for students.

Q & A's: Delve more deeply into topics of special interest.

Current & cutting edge content: The News Page links today's print and TV headlines to in-depth analyses throughout the site. Educators and scientists will monitor research and new findings to keep this site up-to-date and accurate.


Purple icons show how you can take action today to make a difference.


Blue icons connect distant scientific topics to relevant daily life.


Video clips come from Journey to Planet Earth, a companion PBS television series. They feature people and situations that highlight issues discussed in EcoHealth.



The site covers five main areas:

    Chapter One: "Taking Our Temperature" examines the basics of global warming, climate change, and the consequences for our weather, our world, and ourselves. Explore droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, violent storms and floods, El Niño and how it can help predict the future, ozone's split personality, bacteria, bugs, and other health issues—and solutions to global warming.
    Chapter Two: "Hole in the 'Zone" explains what is happening to the ozone layer and why that matters. Uncover the ozone layer—Earth's natural sunscreen—through four sub-topics: "What's Going On Up There?"; "What's Eating the 'Zone?"; "Solar Radiation on the Rise"; and "Don't Get Burned!" Explore how human actions are putting a hole in the ozone layer and how scientists discovered it in the first place. See how countries are successfully working together to solve this problem.
    Chapter Three: "Unbalancing Act" explores how human actions—whether large or small, helpful or harmful—can make a difference. Examine agriculture, deforestation, development of cities and urban sprawl, biodiversity loss, and some of nature's best-kept secrets: links between giraffes and heart disease, and how plants can help us heal. Trace the links between changes in our environment and their effect on our health.
    Chapter Four: What's Left to Eat? addresses why more than 800 million people on Earth do not get enough to eat. Explore how modern farming can improve food production but can also poison land. Learn how technologies such as modifying plants and animal genes may offer solutions but cause problems, too. Examine the tough choices that we have to make.
    Chapter Five: Our Small World The Earth seems to be getting smaller even though its actual size remains the same. Explore a faster-paced world and the disease-causing microbes that may accompany globalization. Explore how to make a smaller world a better world. Explore what free trade can mean for you, what happens when pollution crosses boundaries, and the meaning of the "bio" in bioterrorism.

Additional information