Our Role and Relationship With Nature | Environmental Topics and Essays
History. Our relationship with nature has historically been one of and the majority of the world is now out of touch with the workings of nature. of the world's resources, we encourage a division between man and nature. Environmental history is the study of human interaction with the natural world over time, . However, the origins of the subject in its present form are generally traced to the 20th .. George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by .. –; relation to Social history · Nash, Roderick (). at a time when geographers turn to studies of environmental management and conservation. Figure 1 sets out man-nature relationship which have been current since in Anglo-Amer- to History (p ) which became the authoritative.
When the subject engages in environmental advocacy it has much in common with environmentalism. With increasing globalization and the impact of global trade on resource distribution, concern over never-ending economic growth and the many human inequities environmental history is now gaining allies in the fields of ecological and environmental economics.
Population and environment: a global challenge - Curious
This has been seen as the reason for a perceived lack of support from traditional historians. These include discussion concerning: For Paul Warde the sheer scale, scope and diffuseness of the environmental history endeavour calls for an analytical toolkit "a range of common issues and questions to push forward collectively" and a "core problem".
He sees a lack of "human agency" in its texts and suggest it be written more to act: Sustainability Many of the themes of environmental history inevitably examine the circumstances that produced the environmental problems of the present day, a litany of themes that challenge global sustainability including: Richard Grove has pointed out that "States will act to prevent environmental degradation only when their economic interests are threatened".
Advocacy It is not clear whether environmental history should promote a moral or political agenda. The strong emotions raised by environmentalism, conservation and sustainability can interfere with historical objectivity: Engagement with the political process certainly has its academic perils  although accuracy and commitment to the historical method is not necessarily threatened by environmental involvement: Imbalances of power in resources, industry, and politics have resulted in the burden of industrial pollution being shifted to less powerful populations in both the geographic and social spheres.
Communities with less economic and sociopolitical power often lack the resources to get involved in environmental advocacy. Environmental history increasingly highlights the ways in which the middle-class environmental movement has fallen short and left behind entire communities. Interdisciplinary research now understands historic inequality as a lens through which to predict future social developments in the environmental sphere, particularly with regard to climate change.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs cautions that a warming planet will exacerbate environmental and other inequalities, particularly with regard to: Declensionist narratives[ edit ] Narratives of environmental history tend to be declensionist, that is, accounts of progressive decline under human activity.
Presentism literary and historical analysis Under the accusation of "presentism" it is sometimes claimed that, with its genesis in the late 20th century environmentalism and conservation issues, environmental history is simply a reaction to contemporary problems, an "attempt to read late twentieth century developments and concerns back into past historical periods in which they were not operative, and certainly not conscious to human participants during those times".
In environmental debate blame can always be apportioned, but it is more constructive for the future to understand the values and imperatives of the period under discussion so that causes are determined and the context explained. Environmental determinism and Cultural determinism Ploughing farmer in ancient Egypt. Mural in the burial chamber of artisan Sennedjem c. The claim that the path of history has been forged by environmental rather than cultural forces is referred to as environmental determinism while, at the other extreme, is what may be called cultural determinism.
An example of cultural determinism would be the view that human influence is so pervasive that the idea of pristine nature has little validity - that there is no way of relating to nature without culture. Historical method Recording historical events Useful guidance on the process of doing environmental history has been given by Donald Worster,  Carolyn Merchant,  William Cronon  and Ian Simmons.
The tools are those of both history and science with a requirement for fluency in the language of natural science and especially ecology. Shikar, Subsistence, Sustenance and the Sciences Kolkata: Readers Service, Chakrabarti, Ranjan ed. Manohar, Cronon, William edUncommon Ground: Toward Reinventing Nature New York: The Environmental History of Settler Societies. Cambridge University Press, Hughes, J. Routledge, Hughes, J.
The Long View", Globalizations, Vol. The Decline of Nature: The Global Environmental Movement. Forestry and Imperial Eco-Development, Oxford: The MIT Press, Williams, MichaelDeforesting the Earth: From Prehistory to Global Crisis. The Remaking of the Columbia River. A Study of Ecological Ideals. Donald Hughes has also provided a global conspectus of major contributions to the environmental history literature.
David Lowenthal Cambridge, MA: Lesotho Adams, Jonathan S. Conservation without Illusion Berkeley: Resources such as oil and food are all unevenly distributed throughout the world and therefore used as a platform for profit. All the while the environment bears the grunt of our greed. In order to reconstruct our views of nature and understand our place within it, it is important to reconsider our relationship with each other and our surroundings.
We have to consider ourselves as part of a bigger picture. Industry and capitalism rely heavily on ignorance and individualism. However, the reality is that we are all dependent upon each other in one way or another. Time for Change Humans play a vital role in nature just like everything else.
What separates us from nature though, is the ability to understand our place within it. This cognitive capacity of ours has historically been the cause of a perceived division between man and nature. However, in order to achieve a sustainable future in which humans assume a more natural role and have less of an impact it is imperative that we reconsider our role and relationship with nature. A change in the way we regard nature has obvious political, economic, and social repercussions, but our cognitive ability obliges us to reevaluate our position in the world rather than continue to degrade it.
There are a number of ways in which we can begin to reconsider our relationship with nature, but all of which require an enormous effort.
Through a universal education curriculum, it is possible to encourage people everywhere to consider themselves as part of a larger picture. By teaching people about the environment, evolution, and ecology, we can provide them with the tools for change.
Lewis Mumford imagined a social revolution brought about by a change in values through educational reform: In order to bring about necessary change it is critical that people take action. Through a universal environmental education program it is possible to galvanize people into forming new ideas and opinions of the world and to understand their place within it.
A universal education program would go a long way in encouraging change in how we view each other and our environment. Changing attitudes are a primary component in achieving a sustainable future — one in which nature is allowed to run its course without human intervention.
Gregg Easterbrook discusses a similar future in his The Ecorealist Manifesto: In order for the Earth to retain its balance, it is important that we not overstep our bounds as a species.
This requires a universal effort to reevaluate our relationship with nature and make adjustments as needed. Conclusion After thousands of years of societal evolution, we find ourselves at the peak of technology and pollution. We are already seeing the effects of our industrial ways through the extinction of species, the melting of glaciers, and the destruction of the landscape.
Our recognition of these effects suggests that our role in nature is far more influential than it should be. Therefore it is necessary that we make major changes and that we make them soon. Our role within nature should be one of subsistence rather than commercialization.
We have exploited the world for too long and the consequences of doing so are everywhere. As everything is related to everything, we have no right to infringe on the livelihood of any other species. In fact, our cognitive ability and understanding of nature obliges us to maintain the integrity of the environment.
So if everyone on Earth lived like a middle class American, then the planet might have a carrying capacity of around 2 billion. However, if people only consumed what they actually needed, then the Earth could potentially support a much higher figure. But we need to consider not just quantity but also quality—Earth might be able to theoretically support over one trillion people, but what would their quality of life be like?
Would they be scraping by on the bare minimum of allocated resources, or would they have the opportunity to lead an enjoyable and full life?
More importantly, could these trillion people cooperate on the scale required, or might some groups seek to use a disproportionate fraction of resources?Man – Environment Relationship
If so, might other groups challenge that inequality, including through the use of violence? These are questions that are yet to be answered.
Population distribution The ways in which populations are spread across Earth has an effect on the environment. Developing countries tend to have higher birth rates due to poverty and lower access to family planning and education, while developed countries have lower birth rates. These faster-growing populations can add pressure to local environments.
Globally, in almost every country, humans are also becoming more urbanised. Bythat figure was 54 per cent, with a projected rise to 66 per cent by While many enthusiasts for centralisation and urbanisation argue this allows for resources to be used more efficiently, in developing countries this mass movement of people heading towards the cities in search of employment and opportunity often outstrips the pace of development, leading to slums, poor if any environmental regulation, and higher levels of centralised pollution.
Even in developed nations, more people are moving to the cities than ever before. The pressure placed on growing cities and their resources such as water, energy and food due to continuing growth includes pollution from additional cars, heaters and other modern luxuries, which can cause a range of localised environmental problems.
Humans have always moved around the world. However, government policies, conflict or environmental crises can enhance these migrations, often causing short or long-term environmental damage. For example, since conditions in the Middle East have seen population transfer also known as unplanned migration result in several million refugees fleeing countries including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The sudden development of often huge refugee camps can affect water supplies, cause land damage such as felling of trees for fuel or pollute environments lack of sewerage systems. Unplanned migration is not only difficult for refugees. Having so many people living so closely together without adequate infrastructure causes environmental damage too. Population composition The composition of a population can also affect the surrounding environment.
At present, the global population has both the largest proportion of young people under 24 and the largest percentage of elderly people in history. As young people are more likely to migrate, this leads to intensified urban environmental concerns, as listed above. Life expectancy has increased by approximately 20 years since While this is a triumph for mankind, and certainly a good thing for the individual, from the planet's point of view it is just another body that is continuing to consume resources and produce waste for around 40 per cent longer than in the past.
Ageing populations are another element to the multi-faceted implications of demographic population change, and pose challenges of their own. For example between andJapan's proportion of people over 65 grew from 7 per cent to more than 20 per cent of its population. This has huge implications on the workforce, as well as government spending on pensions and health care. Increasing lifespans are great for individuals and families. But with more generations living simultaneously, it puts our resources under pressure.
Population income is also an important consideration. The uneven distribution of income results in pressure on the environment from both the lowest and highest income levels. They may also be forced to deplete scarce natural resources, such as forests or animal populations, to feed their families. On the other end of the spectrum, those with the highest incomes consume disproportionately large levels of resources through the cars they drive, the homes they live in and the lifestyle choices they make.
On a country-wide level, economic development and environmental damage are also linked. The least developed nations tend to have lower levels of industrial activity, resulting in lower levels of environmental damage.
The most developed countries have found ways of improving technology and energy efficiency to reduce their environmental impact while retaining high levels of production.
Population and environment: a global challenge
It is the countries in between—those that are developing and experiencing intense resource consumption which may be driven by demand from developed countries —that are often the location of the most environmental damage. Population consumption While poverty and environmental degradation are closely interrelated, it is the unsustainable patterns of consumption and production, primarily in developed nations, that are of even greater concern.
For many, particularly in industrialised countries, the consumption of goods and resources is just a part of our lives and culture, promoted not only by advertisers but also by governments wanting to continually grow their economy. Culturally, it is considered a normal part of life to shop, buy and consume, to continually strive to own a bigger home or a faster car, all frequently promoted as signs of success.
It may be fine to participate in consumer culture and to value material possessions, but in excess it is harming both the planet and our emotional wellbeing. More clothes, more gadgets, bigger cars, bigger houses—consuming goods and resources has big effects on our planet.