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One of the most recent intellectual enterprises of the scientist honored in this book, Walter Alvarez, is the dive into big history. Alvarez’s research and worldview contributed directly to the foundations of this transdisciplinary field. In this paper, the relevance of big history to the emergent idea of planetary health is demonstrated. Since big history studies both natural and human-made systems over long periods of time, it is uniquely positioned to help address the three categories of challenges identified within planetary health: imagination, knowledge, and governance. Most extensively, this paper focuses on governance challenges. A case study on the Ethiopian health system illustrates that governance frameworks can be reimagined in such a way that incentives and efforts of actors within the system are aligned, producing better human health outcomes. For Homo sapiens to have a better chance of survival than dinosaurs did 66 million years ago, these lessons will need to be applied more broadly in the planetary health domain.

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