Human ecology

The connections of the knowledge base have developed to the point where I can start discussing major topics somewhat intelligently. The first of these I discuss is human ecology, or the relationship of peoples to the natural environment.

One approach to this is historical, considering the development of human society from antiquity and classical and medieval times through modern history, the effects of the industrial revolution from the 17th century, and the development of environmentalism as a political and social movement.  When I was in Elementary school in the late 1960s, concern with the environment, pollution, and so forth was just starting to gain widespread public attention, and I have watched the environmental movement develop in various ways, not all of them good.

A comparison of Modern American society with those of other peoples who still lack the conveniences many of us take for granted may also be instructive. It is no longer possible for modern city dwellers to live off the land as, for instance, the American Indian peoples did. A knowledge of different kinds of societies reinforces this view.

There are different religious viewpoints possible. The idea that God created the world and that we are responsible to Him for our dominion or stewardship over it, and that we should therefore not squander the bounties of nature or befoul our own nest (or those of our neighbors) is likely to produce a beneficial attitude.  Given the corruptibility of human nature, I personally doubt that political or legal remedies for environmental problems will be efficient. There are real and powerful economic forces at work that shape our response to and interaction with the environment.  There are many whose zeal in environmental causes is not well paired with knowledge.

The habits and customs of millions of people are difficult to change, and there are many technical and engineering problems that need to be addressed before proposed solutions can be adopted.  We are too dependent on modern techniques of transportation, food preparation, and agriculture to live the way that stone age tribesmen did, nor would most of us want to.

A more detail examination of the geographical problems (which vary from region to region), and the effects of human population and the workings of society is also society.

I am not personally impressed by celebrities or public figures who speak without knowledge of the facts or whose approaches are so partisan that they ignore the concerns of those who disagree with them.  The realities of human psychology and physiology also need to be addressed.

It should go without saying that those who are concerned with the relationship of people to their environment should be well informed about biology and earth science, as well as the principles of chemistry and physics that underlie them.

Concern with the environment is a good thing. But if you are going to get involved, be wise about it. Be sapient.

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