Human – environment relations – a fundamental theme in human geography
Environmental movement – product of social change in 1960s; “Silent
Spring” – Rachel Carson
Question: Is a global disaster looming, or will human ingenuity and
technology be able to solve our problems?
o Ecological footprint, a measure of our resource consumption and
impact on the planet; (p. 440)
o Ecosystem: a set of interacting/interdependent organisms and their
environment; (p. 415)
o Biodiversity: the range/variety of life forms in an ecosystem; (p. 393,
o Tragedy of the commons: when individuals have access to a common
resource, individual rational behavior does not result in a collectively
beneficial outcome; (p. 322)
o Sustainable development: development which meets current needs
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
needs (p. 400-401)
2. Human Impacts
What factors affect the human impact on the environment?
o I = PAT
o I = Impact (on Earth’s resources)
o P = Population
o A = Affluence
o T = Technology
Many factors affect relationships amongst these variables
Outcomes of these relationships among nature, society, and technology can be
viewed as “human impacts” at all geographic scales?
Question: What role does economic development play as a determinant of
Human Impacts: the range of effects and consequences of human activity on
Impacts include: pollution; habitat destruction; climate change; resource
depletion; species extinction; desertification; etc.
Are some impacts more serious (of greater consequences) than others? Why?
History of Human Impacts
o Origin of species – 6 million years ago – little/no impact
o Paleolithic period – 1.5 million years ago – minimal impact
o Neolithic period to Holocene – minimal impact (Why minimal
impacts?) th th
o Impacts become more varied with colonial expansion (15 -19
o Most significant impacts have occurred since the Industrial Revolution o As economic development takes place, human impacts become more
pronounced and more pervasive
o Industrial Revolution – Population increase; increasing levels of