Last updated on October 16th, 2019
In order to understand our ecosystem and environment, we need to know how we (as humans) interact with it. This is an important component of our sustainable future. Here is how human-environmental interaction works.
How Human-Environmental Interaction Works
Although human-environment interactions are beneficial for humans, it is not possible to ignore their far-reaching impacts on the environment. One of these several consequences is climate change, which serves as a serious threat to humans as well as the environment.
As a result, the temperature of the earth is increasing at a fast pace. In fact, there is a potential threat that various coastal areas would submerge due to rising sea level. Unbridled use of fossil fuels and cutting down of the forests have caused irreparable damage to the atmosphere.
Want to know more about sustainability? Read our in-depth guide to sustainability.
The prevailing crisis of climate change relates to human-environment interactions. However, to understand this concept, we need to dig deep into what the term human-environment interaction means. Going green helps the environment. It’s as simple as that.
Human-Environment Interaction Definition
Human-environment interaction relates to a phenomenon, which explains how humans interact with the environment to fulfill their needs and how the environment responds to these interactions. Moreover, it also describes how humans have adapted to their environment for their survival.
Since geography shares a close relationship with humans and the environment, it is essential to discuss it for a better understanding of the human-environment interactions. There are five themes of geography, which include place, location, movement, human-environment interaction, and region.
- Location- As the name suggests, location relates to the geographical position of a specific place on the earth. Latitude and longitude are the essential parameters to locate a place
- Place- On the contrary, the term place discloses the physical specifications of a region such as wet, dry, hot or cold
- Movement- The concept of movement relates to the transportation and immigration patterns in a particular region
- Region- The region, on the other hand, specifies an area showing identical characteristics
A comprehensive discussion regarding the concept of human-environment interaction and its consequences are mentioned below.
3 Ways Humans Interact With The Environment
Human-environment interactions are of different types. People use these interactions as a way to adapt to the environment as well as modify it.
Given below are 3 basic types of human-environment interaction.
- Humans try to modify the environment (positively or negatively), such as cutting forests, building dams, and extending urban areas
- The way humans adapt to the environment to meet their needs
- The way humans depend on the environment for food, timber, water, and other resources
By Modifying The Environment
In order to fulfill their needs, humans modify the environment. It allows them to extract and utilize the resources with less effort.
Some of these modifications include:
- Cutting down the forests to increase agricultural land and grow more food
- Construction of dams to store water and avoid floods
- Drilling of the holes in the ground for the purpose of extracting oil or other natural resources
By Adapting To The Environment
There are a few environmental conditions, which humans can’t modify. Hence, they adapt to such conditions for their survival.
Some of these adaptations include:
- Taking benefit of the natural slope of the land for irrigation
- Building houses on higher ground to avoid flood
- Wearing warm clothes to survive in cold climate
By Depending On The Environment
In order to obtain the essential resources for their survival, humans depend on the environment. Food, drinking water, fiber for clothing, timber, coal and natural gas are some of the major resources.
Humans also utilize different aspects of the environment to develop their civilization.
Human-Environment Interaction Examples
Here are some of the examples of human-environment interaction.
Using Natural Resources
Humans utilize numerous natural resources like oil, gas, wood, metals, and rocks to meet their needs. These resources help them to survive and make it easy for them to live in various conditions. Humans strive for food and water, which serves as one of the largest human-environment interactions.
In addition, people also need energy for various purposes including industrial as well as domestic. For instance, construction of buildings, electronic devices, transport services, and other necessary elements of our social life need energy.
As the population of the world continues to grow, the demand for these natural resources is also soaring. Moreover, socio-economic development also increases the utilization of available resources.
To meet their needs, humans have been continuously extracting these non-renewable resources at an alarming rate.
Deforestation At Large Scale
This is one of the largest negative impacts of human-environment interaction. It would not be wrong to consider it as the unprecedented misuse of natural resources. Humans not only cut down trees at large scale, but they also don’t bother to replant trees or allow them to grow back.
For instance, countries like America, Ethiopia, Brazil, India, and Congo, destroyed a major portion of their forests. The obvious reason for this brutal act is to get wood for economical purposes and increase the land for agricultural.
Deforestation casts drastic impacts on the environment. Forest is home to a variety of plant and animal species. By cutting down trees, we are actually depriving these species of their home. A wide range of animals and plants are at the verge of their extinction, but we are doing no good except continuing our activities.
Apart from this, turning forests into agricultural land minimizes biodiversity. This aspect of the environment is equally beneficial for humans as well as the ecosystem. Trees serve the purpose of purifying the air we breathe and regulate the temperature to make us comfortable while living in otherwise harsh weather conditions.
Soil erosion is another problem associated with deforestation. Trees act as a binding agent for the soil. On the contrary, deforestation exposes soil to unfavorable weather conditions like heavy rain and storm.
As a result, soil erosion starts to begin, leaving our water channels filled with mud and debris.
Utilization Of Resources
How humans utilize renewable or non-renewable sources is another factor that relates to human-environmental interaction. In most cases, humans use these resources to generate energy. For instance, we use energy for our homes, industries, transportation system, and to extract more resources.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy resources, yet we have been using them continuously without considering their depletion. Humans have taken these resources for granted and never tried to look for other resources that are renewable as well as environment-friendly.
Apart from the fact that these resources are close to their depletion, there is another issue, which requires immediate attention. The burning of fossil fuels is a great contributory of climate change. Humans are destroying the environment by increasing the number of carbon footprints in the atmosphere.
Although there is no shortage of renewable energy resources, humans have not devised strategies to make good use of these resources. We can use them as a better alternative to fossil fuels. Renewable energy options such as solar/wind power and hydroelectricity are viable in terms of both the cost as well as their zero impact over the environment.
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Here are some relevant guides to learn more about renewable energy:
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Biomass
- Pros and Cons of Tidal Wave Energy
- Pros and Cons of Hydroelectric Energy
Read more about renewable energy in our blog.
Use Of Water Resources
This is a significant element of human-environmental interaction. Humans can’t survive without water. Apart from being a lifesaver, water also offers numerous other benefits. It is essential for various domestic, agricultural and industrial operations.
Despite technological advancements, we are still using conventional irrigation techniques to water our agricultural land. In fact, agriculture utilizes a massive amount of water. To meet such high demands, we build dams to preserve the water. This results in saltification of the soil close to the seas and destruction of the cultivable land.
Recycling is a viable method of replenishing the underground water level. However, the rate of depletion is much higher as compared to recycling. By utilizing huge quantities of water for domestic and industrial purposes, we are actually disturbing the natural water cycle and level of underground water.
Clean and abundant drinking water, fertile soil, and favorable temperatures are some of the characteristics of the environment, which assists humans to survive and prosper.
On the contrary, a harsh condition such as scorching weather, barren land, and lack of water make it difficult for humans to survive. Water is renewable to a certain extent. We need to find ways to better use it and preserve it, however. Also, avoid using bottled water to save on plastic.
Humans start their interaction with the environment shortly after getting birth. Each childbirth puts pressure on the food cycle. We need more food to feed our people and utilize more resources for our survival. We need to build new structures to provide shelter and improve our sustainability.
Hence, humans continue to modify the environment for their own survival. On the contrary, the environment also casts its negative impact on our lives. Climate change has caused damage to our agricultural land. Unexpected weather makes it difficult for us to perform our day to day activities.
Natural calamities like floods, drought, wildfires, earthquakes, and tsunamis are a few examples of nature’s revenge. These adversities of environmental phenomenon cause large scale migrations and death of people.
All these are the side effects of the activities that humans continue to practice without taking into account their consequences. Humans modify the environment to draw maximum benefit out of it and meet their needs. This disturbs the natural balance of our ecosystem and causes the destruction of the environment around us.
Drilling For Oil, Gas And Other Natural Resources
Humans drill the land to extract oil and gas, which serve as a major source to produce energy. However, this act of drilling and extraction of natural resources leave a negative impact on the environment.
Drilling, for instance, makes the soil more prone to earthquakes by lowering its strength. Moreover, oil spills have their own effect on the environment. Incidents like these can destroy marine life.
In addition, the vegetation around shores also experiences the negative impacts of oil spills.
Use Of Different Means Of Transportation
Humans have been inventing things to make their lives more comfortable. The revolution in the field of transportation has enabled people to travel faster and cover longer distances. Besides the benefits of using different means of transportation, there are certain drawbacks too.
Cars, buses, and airplanes are the major contributors to the devastation humans have caused to the environment. These transportation facilities are responsible for more than one-third of the overall greenhouse gas emissions. The air pollution, which is a result of such emissions, has been causing the spread of various fatal diseases.
Dumping And Littering
Dumping of waste materials into rivers, at seashores and close to vegetation is a serious threat to marine life and animals living on the land. Besides, dumping and littering add harmful elements to the air that we breathe. Hence, we are not affecting the environment only, but also putting our own lives at risk.
Litter also interferes with the flow of water, causing river tributaries to flood the surrounding area. Especially, improper dumping of plastic materials serves as a continuous menace for the close by inhabitants.
Dumping also destroys the natural landscape. It pollutes the air, water, and land, making it difficult for humans and other living creatures to survive. The heaps of dumped waste material serve as a breeding site for various harmful bacteria and virus, spreading the epidemic diseases in the surrounding areas.
Graffiti And Aerosols
Another instance of human-environment interaction that affects the environment in a negative sense is the use of aerosols and graffiti. These chemicals are harmful to the environment. The fumes coming out of aerosols increase the number of greenhouse gases, thus promote global warming.
In addition, the latest CFC-free aerosol sprays are not safe to use, as they emit volatile organic compounds. These compounds have a tendency to dissolve the ozone levels. These chemicals are also dangerous to inhale since they cause asthma in humans when exposed for longer periods.
Conclusion on Human-Environment Interaction
Nature has provided for us a sustainable and favorable environment for humans. However, humans have destroyed the perfect balance of our ecosystem by mercilessly utilizing the resources around them. Although human-environment interactions are inevitable for co-existence, maintaining a suitable balance is the key to survival.
Our environment allows us to make certain modifications for our survival, but misusing this opportunity results in the destruction at a large scale. Humans have made significant changes to the environment in a way that suits them. However, they didn’t consider the consequences of such modifications.
Hence, humans are responsible for the current devastation of our environment. We are now facing the challenge of climate change, which puts the future of our next generations at risk.
What are some other ways of human-environmental interaction? Please let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.
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