GEOG 302 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Wicken Fen, Transect, Tuareg People
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things that are not there- how can we properly manage our environment if we do not realize the system we are
in? Do we have to wait for failed predictions before progress can begin?
What we need to understand:
o Our cosmology is part of ‘how things work’
o Not all people share our cosmology
o The truths of tomorrow will first appear as ideas that are ‘wrong’
What we need to ask
o Who discovers the truths of tomorrow?
o Who detects and reports these failed predictions?
o Where do these people fit in the process of cultural adaptation and evnr mgmt?
- Reductionist science is essential, but socioecosystems are integrated wholes.
- Despite what we think, we do not naturally grasp the detail (with critical awareness) of the ‘real
world’ around us
- We construct the world we interact with mostly on our cultural background
- Part of any human environment is other people who construct the world in other ways
- Envr mgmt requires understanding of these human dimensions
- Our perceptions or lack thereof determine the questions we ask
- The questions we choose to ask determine the answers we find
What tools are available to break out of our OWN epistemology?
a) SCALE (1) in environmental systems- what we choose to look at
o Neuromuscular chauvinism’
o Spatial/Temporal/Probablistic (frequency of things, such as storms)
b) Basic ecological paradigms
o NUTRIENT CYCLING (2)
o ENERGY FLOW (3)
o Understanding the above helps us make models. Based on what discipline you are in, this
determines your analytical framework. A biologist may map energy flow in a different way
than an anthropologist.
c) Biogeographical Dynamics
o POPULATION REGULATION (4)
Such as Wicken Fen- importance of fitness/reproductive strategies
o EVOLUTION/SUCCESSION (5)
Assuming we accept natural selection we can figure out what is changing our envr
o Changes in the numbers of populations may not physically change, but our methodology of
understanding and managing (and therefore our perception) may change.
d) Human/Envr Interactions
o SOCIOECOSYSTEMS (6)
Aka local human ecologies
Culture becomes part of the ecosystem
Political vs geographic borders?
CASE STUDY 3: The African Transect
The ecosystem approach (Wicken Fen example) showed the complexity of dynamics and interactions in
natural and semi-natural systems. For example, putting up borders does change the environment (ex. Fencing
bison can cause a shrubland to change to grassland)