How Do Humans Interact With The Natural Environment

How humans interact with the natural environment is becoming one of the most pervasive issues of the modern world. The effects that human development has had on the natural environment, are only recently beginning to be realised, and has led some scholars to call for the current geological epoch to be termed the “Anthropocene”, due to the great effect human populations have had on the natural environment (Steffen et al. 2011: 843). There has also been a rise in environmentalist ideologies and environmentalist organisations, based on the increasingly popular notion that human interactions with the natural environment need to be reformulated. I have always been interested in environmental issues, and my time spent studying anthropology
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Leopold (1949), discussed how humans should think about and act towards the natural environment, especially with his concepts of “thinking like a mountain” and “land ethics”. Thinking like a mountain refers to his notion that humans should understand ecological systems in a holistic sense, by recognising that each entity in the ecological system has a function that affects the survival of the other entities in that system (ibid: 132). He explains though his discussion of how killing wolves, allows deer to destroy the natural habitat as their populations go unchecked by predation, relating this to his own story of killing a wolf in his younger years and seeing a, “ fierce green fire dying in its eyes” (ibid: 131). Land ethics, is his notion that humans have to develop an ethical relation to land based on, “love, respect and admiration for land and a high regard for its value” (Leopold 2009: 873). He argues that humans have to change the way we think about community by developing an ecological conscience that recognises, “soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively the land” as also being part of human communities (ibid: 866). Leopold offered a treatise on human-nature relations that posited that humans should understand themselves as integrated into nature which should be respected and not exploited. He saw nature, not as something that is separate and other to …show more content…
In their study of connectedness to nature, Vining, Merrick and Price (ibid: 8) found that although participants considered themselves as part of nature, they also tended to exclude humans from their definitions of what constitutes the natural environment. They also found that the more time spent in built environments, such as urbanised areas, and the less time spent in natural environments, correlated negatively with feelings of connectedness to nature, which suggests that more exposure to natural environments increases feelings of connectedness to nature (ibid). Connectedness to nature has also been examined by many in relation to its significance for wellbeing, such as the psychological benefits accrued from feelings of connectedness to nature (Hinds and Sparks 2009: 181). In Hinds’ and Spark’s (ibid: 184) research on connectedness to nature, they found also that an environment-related identity is significantly predicated on experiences with the natural environment. Other research on connectedness to nature has focused on how it influences environmentally responsible behaviour (Restall and Conrad 2015). For instance, many studies, such as one conducted by Mayer and Frantz (2004), suggest that feelings of connectedness to nature are a good

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