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Dr. Christopher Golden is an ecologist and epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an explorer at National Geographic. His research investigates the nexus of trends in global environmental change and human health. He received his BA from Harvard College where he created his own curriculum integrating courses in ecology, medical anthropology and development studies. He then received two graduate degrees from UC Berkeley: an MPH in Epidemiology with a focus in Nutrition, and a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management focusing his studies in wildlife ecology and ecosystem services.

Since 1999, Dr. Golden has been conducting environmental and public health research in Madagascar where he created a local research organization called MAHERY (Madagascar Health and Environmental Research). In the local language, “mahery” means strength and this organization has been the sole research organization operating in Madagascar’s largest remaining tract of rainforest. This group supports 20 field staff and he has trained nearly 25 Malagasy university students in field research methods.

Dr. Golden is now the Associate Director of the Planetary Health Alliance, working to create a community of practice for those interested in the human health impacts of environmental change. Over the past several years, he has served as lead investigator on several research efforts: 1) the investigation of terrestrial wildlife declines in Madagascar on food security and human nutrition; 2) the investigation of marine fishery collapses in Madagascar (and across the globe) on food security and human nutrition; and 3) intervention analyses to determine solutions to wildlife harvest unsustainability and local health crises.

Maintaining Nature’s Delicate Balance in Madagascar

The people I meet in Marofototra have adapted with ingenuity to nature’s changes: the turning of the seasons; changes in fish catch or rice harvest. But we live in a world of increasing human population, deforestation, fisheries exploitation, and, looming behind it all, climate change. These are changes caused by humans, and changes that threaten those with the most fragile dependence on nature’s delicate balance.

Imagining a Future Without Wildlife in Madagascar

It is difficult to reconcile the need for food with the long-term need for wildlife conservation. It is clear that hunting at current rates drives certain wildlife species’ populations down to unsustainable sizes. Habitat destruction and fragmentation add to the problem. Not only is this harmful in terms of destabilizing food security, it also creates a cascade of harmful environmental impacts.

Ideas Are Like Eggs: Once Hatched, They Have Wings

What started with a 3rd-grade animal report on the ring-tailed lemur has become a complete dedication to the people, plants, and animals of Madagascar. The ideas of a 9-year-old-me are now truly taking flight, as I train a new generation of Harvard students to help protect this unique land.