I take it as axiomatic that symbiosis is foundational to life at all levels and that symbiogenesis is at least as important as natural selection in the evolution of life on Earth. In the era after the Anthropocene, the Symbiocene, the physical and mental health of humans will be vitally connected to health in symbiotically structured biomes at micro-, meso- and macro-scales. While attention has been directed at the role microbiomes in human health (e.g., gut flora), ecosystem health at meso scale levels (e.g., wetlands) and at global biogeochemical cycles within Earth System Science (e.g., carbon cycle), there has been very little transdisciplinary research directed at the relationships between all three levels.
Young people maturing now will enter a period in Earth history where re-integration of humans with the rest of life on this planet will take place. The positive role of ‘health’ in leading this movement will be crucial to full entry into the Symbiocene. Sumbiocentric thinking (focused on mutualistic, symbiotic connection between species at all scales) will allow thought to move from micro to macro and vice versa levels of life systems and see the relationships that maintain, reinforce or destroy good health.
Generation Symbiocene (all the post-Boomer generations) will be the first generation of humans who will ‘know’ their microbiome, mesobiome and macrobiome in intimate detail. They will be able, with respect to the microbiome, to ‘see’ its relevance to human health. Gene sequencing opens a massive field of discoveries about what we are and who we are as living beings. Ecological science continues to provide knowledge about interconnections in life and physical systems at meso levels with toxicology, for example, reaching levels of never before achieved precision about exactly ‘what’ is in our ‘symbioment’. Earth Systems Science provides global scale knowledge, often delivered via satellite-based information and data collection, with scope and scale not possible in the past. Climate science is now a vital part of understanding our planetary-scale macrobiome.
A Symbiocene health perspective will allow all three levels to be collated and presented to people in a way that depicts ‘health’ as an outcome of the relationships between all three levels. It will also be future-directed as it will help humans move from the dis-ease of the Anthropocene (at all scales) to the optimal well-being of the Symbiocene. A new transdisciplinary ‘discipline’, Sumbiology, will enable collaboration of many types of perspectives, scientific and cultural in the study of health interconnections.
Symbiocene health will provide a motive for young people to re-integrate their bodies, lives and lifestyles to a grounded view of health. Moreover, since ‘health’ is a shared property between trillions of organisms within biomes at all levels, it offers the prospect of human sharing and collaboration in the maintenance and optimisation of life and health for ‘all’.