Human Ecology

Topics: Ecology, Ecosystem, Natural environment Pages: 2 (586 words) Published: August 29, 2010

What is Human Ecology?
Ecology is the science of relationships between living organisms and their environment. Human ecology is about relationships between people and their environment. In human ecology the environment is perceived as an ecosystem (see Figure 1.1). An ecosystem is everything in a specified area - the air, soil, water, living organisms and physical structures, including everything built by humans. The living parts of an ecosystem - microorganisms, plants and animals (including humans) - are its biological community. Ecosystems can be any size. A small pond in a forest is an ecosystem, and the entire forest is an ecosystem. A single farm is an ecosystem, and a rural landscape is an ecosystem. Villages, towns and large cities are ecosystems. A region of thousands of square kilometres is an ecosystem, and the planet Earth is an ecosystem. Although humans are part of the ecosystem, it is useful to think of human - environment interaction as interaction between the human social system and the rest of the ecosystem (see Figure 1.1). The social system is everything about people, their population and the psychology and social organization that shape their behaviour. The social system is a central concept in human ecology because human activities that impact on ecosystems are strongly influenced by the society in which people live. Values and knowledge - which together form our worldview as individuals and as a society - shape the way that we process and interpret information and translate it into action. Technology defines our repertoire of possible actions. Social organization, and the social institutions that specify socially acceptable behaviour, shape the possibilities into what we actually do. Like ecosystems, social systems can be on any scale - from a family to the entire human population of the planet. [pic]

Figure 1.1 - Interaction of the human social system with the ecosystem The ecosystem provides...
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