Evidence of climate change, loss of biological diversity, tropical deforestation, and an impending crisis in potable water prompts the question: how have we created a situation where our planet - our very future - is at risk? For centuries human impact on the natural world was relatively limited. Some ancient civilizations deforested their regional landscapes - and paid the price with their collapse. Now, while countries in the developed world point to the tropical world as driving the next great wave of extinctions, tropical experts argue that it is the industrial world's addiction to fossil fuels that is the threat. Again, we must ask: What will motivate humans to value Nature before it is too late? In People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations, noted anthropologist and environmental scientist, Emilio Moran considers such questions and provides a lively introduction to ecological anthropology, environmental geography and what is often called human ecology.
Not only does Moran review the evolution of human interactions with the natural world - drawing from anthropology, geography, and environmental sciences - he also diagnoses our contemporary situation by examining our changing relations to Nature. He pays particular attention to those aspects that seem to account for the greater connectedness of certain societies to their physical environment, including respect for Nature that self-limits the use of resources, a sense of community, and trust between members of communities. By examining the evolving relations between human communities and Nature, Moran offers a vision of what we must do to have a future worth living.
"The book offers a lively and well-researched introduction to human-environmental problems and ways of analysing them, drawing creatively on a range of scientific approaches ? .A thoughtful and engaging text, which students of environmental anthropology, human geography, and environmental studies will find illuminating." (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, December 2008)
"An anthropological reader on social movements is a welcome contribution to a synthesis and analysis of this interest." (The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, June 2008)
"The aim [of the book] ? Is to offer a lively overview on a traditional area of anthropological study, an aim which Moran's book no doubt accomplishes." (European Association of Social Anthropologists, 2007)
"Moran...provides a primer of the field for beginning students, covering current environmental problems from an anthropological perspective and looking to hunter-gatherers, early farmers, and other ancient and traditional peoples for comparison. Students can learn what they can do to make the world simpler and better. Recommended for libraries serving high school and undergraduate students, and anyone interested in living more wisely." (Choice)
"Those among us who would like to better understand the intricate interaction between knowledge on environmental issues and societal reactions will most definitely profit from this little book, which can be whole heartedly recommended." (Environmental Geology)
"The major themes of People and Nature provide a menu rich enough to satisfy any beginning student of ecological anthropology." (BioScience)
"People and Nature is the first volume published within the series titled Primers in Anthropology. The aim of the series is to offer a lively overview on a traditional area of anthropological study, an aim which Moran's book no doubt accomplishes." (Journal of Social Anthropology)
?We need more books like this! Moran provides a wonderfully accessible and compelling introduction to the greatest issue of our times. This book is required reading to understand the all-too-human dimension of the environmental crisis and why there is real hope for recovery.? ?Tom Lovejoy, The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment
?Vintage Emilio Moran! A highly readable, well grounded and insightful stock- taking of human environmental relations?a perspective that will be highly valued by both students and others concerned with an enlightened view of how our species manages or mismanages its habitat.?
?Daniel G. Bates, Hunter College, CUNY, and Editor, Human Ecology
?In this original and thoughtful book, Moran leads readers from the past history of human interactions with natural ecosystems through the present crisis of environmental sustainability and into the future, noting serious challenges, and positive trends as well.?
?Ben Orlove, University of California Davis, and Editor, Current Anthropology
List of Figures.
1. Human Agency and the State of the Earth.
Can one conceive of ecosystems without human agents?.
Human agency: individuals making a difference.
Overwhelming evidence for concern with the condition of the earth system.
Looking back and looking forward.
2. A Reminder: How Things Were.
The study of human ecological relations.
The contemporary study of environmental issues.
The evolution of human-environment interactions.
Hunter-gatherers: Setting our preferences.
How did we decide to become farmers?.
Herding and farming: An uneasy relationship.
More food for the masses.
3. The Great Forgetting.
Earth Transformations in prehistory.
The archeology of environmental change.
The urban-industrial revolution and the unleashing of Prometheus.
The contemporary situation: Human-dominated ecosystems.
4. The Web of Life: Are We in It?.
The web of life and trophic relations: Thinking ecologically.
Ecosystem productivity and net primary production.
Land Use and long-term disturbance.
5. What Makes People Want to Change the Environment?.
Learning, Adaptation, and Information.
Mitigation and the Cautionary Principle.
Transforming the face of the earth through making better decisions.
Population and the Environment.
6. Rebuilding Communities and Institutions.
Community in human evolution.
What is sacred in human evolution?.
Tragedies of the commons.
Institutions and self-organization.
Bioregionalism, deep ecology and embedding people in nature.
7. Can We Learn When We Have Enough?.
Material boys and material girls.
Patterns of consumption in developed countries.
Patterns of consumption in developing countries.
A feeding frenzy and a crisis in public health.
Burning fossils fuels instead of calories.
Do we have enough material goods now?.
8. Quality of Life: When Less Is More.
Resource abundance vs resource scarcity.
When less is more.
The scale of the problem and the scale of the solutions.
Restoring Our Balance: Valuing community, and trust, rather than more "stuff".
Are we happier when we have more?.