Our Role and Relationship With Nature | Environmental Topics and Essays
Yet, in the last decade, the field's presupposed dichotomy between humans and nature in relation to power has been critically challenged by. Contention defines the relationship between man and nature. Th roughout medallions from withers to rump and burdened by an expensive-looking saddle, far. Download Citation on ResearchGate | The man-nature relationship and environmental ethics | Our behaviour and policies with regard to nature and the.
Furthermore, what gives us the right to do so? However, our rapid success as a species has begun to affect this natural order. The ability of humans to manipulate the landscape and recognize the consequences of doing so puts us in a peculiar position. As a species we are assigned the duty to provide and proliferate.
Man in the Realm of Nature
Our goal is to achieve stability for ourselves and our kin. However we also have an obligation to maintain the environment, as we depend on the resources and services it provides. The question then becomes: Do we have the right to manipulate the land, factory farm animals, and pollute waterways? Or do we have an obligation to reduce our numbers and merely subsist? In order to answer these questions we must rely on our knowledge of Earth, evolution, and our influence on the environment.
History Our relationship with nature has historically been one of imbalance and overuse. Nearly every step in human history has unfortunately been accompanied with a leap in environmental degradation. At first, humans were incredibly in-tune with their surroundings. Nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes used to roam the lands, following the ebb and flow of the seasons. These tribes had a measurable impact on the environment, but their influence was relatively manageable due to their population size.
With advancements in technology and agriculture though, humans began to find more efficient ways of sustaining themselves. These advancements allowed for more permanent settlements, which led to rapid population growth and a distancing from nature. As society evolved, populations grew and more and more resources were required to fuel the expansion.
With breakthroughs in agriculture, settlements became more permanent and cities began to take shape.
This shift to city life inadvertently led to a distancing from nature. While many people were still in-tune with nature on a subsistent level, the need for more and more resources began to change our regard for nature.
Although our distancing from nature began several thousand years ago with advancements in agriculture and social order, it is the age of industry to which we owe our modern regard for nature. The growth of cities allowed for a separation between people and nature and our obsession with convenience and efficiency beckoned a new perspective on the environment.
The Human–Nature Relationship and Its Impact on Health: A Critical Review
With technological advancements, nature became something we were no longer apart of and entirely subject to, but something that we could control and profit off of. The growth of industry enabled humans to truly dominate the landscape and disrupt the natural systems that have been in place for billions of years. As we have removed ourselves further and further from nature, we have developed a willing ignorance of our role and relationship within it.
With the growth of cities and trade we have moved from a subsistent, sustainable economy to one of greed and exploitation. Humans have always had an impact on the environment, but with the age of industry that impact has been ultra-magnified.
Population growth has been exponentiated, cities have become the primary place of residence, and the majority of the world is now out of touch with the workings of nature. Although every species plays a unique role in the biosphere and inherently has its own impact, not every species has the cognitive ability to measure their influence or the capacity to change it.
Whereas nature once frightened us and made us tremble with her mysterious vastness and the uncontrollable energy of its elemental forces, it now frightens us with its limitations and a new-found fragility, the delicacy of its plastic mechanisms.
We are faced quite uncompromisingly with the problem of how to stop, or at least moderate, the destructive effect of technology on nature. In socialist societies the problem is being solved on a planned basis, but under capitalism spontaneous forces still operate that despoil nature's riches. Unforeseen paradoxes have arisen in the man-nature relationship. One of them is the paradox of saturation.
For millions of years the results of man's influence on nature were relatively insignificant. The biosphere loyally served man as a source of the means of subsistence and a reservoir for the products of his life activity. The contradiction between these vital principles was eliminated by the fact that the relatively modest scale of human productive activity allowed nature to assimilate the waste from labour processes.
But as time went on, the growing volume of waste and its increasingly harmful properties destroyed this balance. The human feedback into nature became increasingly disharmonised. Human activity at various times has involved a good deal of irrational behaviour. Labour, which started as a specifically human means of rational survival in the environ ment, now damages the biosphere on an increasing scale and on the boomerang principle—affecting man himself, his bodily and mental organisation.
Under the influence of uncoordinated production processes affecting the biosphere, the chemical properties of water, air, the soil, flora and fauna have acquired a negative shift. Experts maintain that 60 per cent of the pollution in the atmosphere, and the most toxic, comes from motor transport, 20 per cent from power stations, and 20 per cent from other types of industry. It is possible that the changes in the chemical properties of the biosphere can be somehow buffered or even halted, but the changes in the basic physical parameters of the environ ment are even more dangerous and they may turn out to be uncontrollable.
We know that man can exist only in a certain range of temperature and at a certain level of radiation and electromagnetic and sound-wave intensity, that is to say, amid the physical influences that come to us from the atmosphere, from outer space and from the depths of the earth, to which we have adapted in the course of the whole history of the development of human life.
From the beginning man has existed in the biosphere, a complex system whose components are the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the phytosphere, the radiation sphere, the thermosphere, the phonosphere, and so on. All these spheres are and must remain in a natural state of balance. Any excessive upsetting of this balance must be to the detriment not only of normal existence but of any existence at all, even human vegetation.
If humanity does not succeed in preventing damage to the biosphere, we run the risk of encountering the paradox of replacement, when the higher plants and animals may be ousted by the lower. As we know, many insects, bacteria, and lichens are, thanks to their relatively simple structure, extremely flexible in adapting to powerful chemical and even physical factors, such as radiation.
Mutating under the influence of an unfavourable environment, they continue their modified existence. Man, on the other hand, "nature's crown", because of the exceptional complexity of his bodily and mental organisation and the miraculous subtlety and fragility of his genetic mechanism may, when faced with a relatively small change in the chemical and physical factors of the environment, either produce unviable progeny or even perish altogether.
Another possible result of harmful influences on the environment is that the productivity of the biosphere may substantially decline.
Already we observe unfavourable shifts in the great system of the universe: Much more carbon dioxide is being produced on earth than plants can assimilate. Various chemical preparations herbicides, antibiotics, etc. Thus, not only progress but even human life itself depends on whether humanity can resolve the paradoxes in the ecological situation that have arisen today.
Modern technology is distinguished by an ever increasing abundance of produced and used synthetic goods. Hundreds of thousands of synthetic materials are being made. People increasingly cover their bodies from head to foot in nylon, capron and other synthetic, glittering fabrics that are obvious ly not good for them. Young people may hardly feel this and pay more attention to appearance than to health.
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But they become more aware of this harmful influence as they grow older. As time goes on the synthetic output of production turns into waste, and then substances that in their original form were not very toxic are transformed in the cycle of natural processes into aggressive agents.
One gets the impression that human beings are working harder and harder to organise bits of synthetic reality by disorganising the systems evolved by nature. Emphasising man's hostility to nature—a hostility armed with the vast achievements of modern technology—both natural scientists and philosophers are today asking themselves the pessimistic question: Is it not the fatal mission of man to be for nature what cancer is for man himself? Perhaps man's destruction of the biosphere is inevitable?
One would like to think that the limited capacities of nature do not signify a fatal limitation of civilisation itself. The irrational principle, which once permeated human nature, still exists in human behavioural mechanisms, as can be seen, for instance, in the unpredictable consequences of their individual and concerted efforts.
Much in human activity goes beyond the limits of the predictable, even when it is humanely oriented. The man-nature relation, the crisis of the ecological situation is a global problem.
Its solution lies in the plane of rational and humane, that is to say, wise organisation, both of production itself and care for mother nature, not just by individuals, enterprises or countries, but by all humanity, linked with a clear awareness of our planetary responsibility for the ecological consequences of a civilisation that has reached a state of crisis.
One of the ways to deal with the crisis situation in the "man-nature" system is to use such resources as solar energy, the power of winds, the riches of the seas and oceans and other, as yet unknown natural forces of the universe. At one time in his evolution man was a gatherer.
He used the ready-made gifts of nature. This was how human existence began. Further, there still remains a gap between academic research and local knowledge, which would otherwise lead to more effective interventions. Nonetheless, for such approach to be implemented requires sufficient time, cost, and an adequate scale of resources to ensure for aspects of coordination, communication, and data validation This in part owes to the increasing evidence accumulating in research literature centering on the relationships between the following areas: Such health-related effects that have been alluded to include chronic diseases, social isolation, emotional well-being as well as other psychiatric disorders e.
Reasons for these proposed links have been suggested to stem from various behavioral patterns e. Further, these suggested links have been inferred, by some, to be visible in other species e. Nonetheless, research within this field remains speculative with few counter examples e. With a growing trend in the number of chronic diseases and psychiatric disorders, costs to the U. However, this anticipated trend is considered to be both undesirable and expensive to the already overwhelmed health-care system In concurrence are the associated impacts on health equity, equating to further productivity and tax losses every year in addition to a growing gap in health inequalities Furthermore, population growth in urbanized areas is expected to impact future accessibility to and overall loss of natural spaces.
Not only would this have a direct detrimental effect on the health of both humans and non-humans but equally the functioning and integrity of ecosystem services that sustain our economic productivity Thereby, costs of sustaining our human-engineered components of social—ecological systems could rise, having an indirect impact on our economic growth and associated pathways connecting to health As such, researchers have highlighted the importance of implementing all characteristics when accounting ecosystem services, particularly the inclusion of natural and health-related capital, as well as their intervening mechanisms.
This is an area, which at present remains difficult to synthesize owing to fragmented studies from a host of disciplines that are more conceptually rather than empirically based Toward an Interdisciplinary Perspective of Human and Ecosystem Health Since the late nineteenth century, a number of descriptive models have been developed to encapsulate the dimensions of human health and the natural environment as well as their interrelationships As VanLeeuwen et al 17 highlight in their review, each have not fully incorporated all relevant characteristics of ecosystems e.
Further, the Bioecological systems theory model encapsulates the biopsychological characteristics of an evolving theoretical system for scientific study of human development over time 16 However, the model has been suggested by someto be static and compartmentalized in nature, emphasizing instead the importance of evolving synergies between biology, culture, and technology.
It is broadly defined as the attainment of optimal health across the human—animal—environmental interfaces at local, national, and global levels.
It calls for a holistic and universal approach to researching health, an ideology said to be traceable to pathologist Rudolf Virchow in Yet, the concept has received criticisms regarding its prominence toward the more biological phenomena e.