Meaning of Human-Environment Interaction With Striking Examples

Human-environment interaction meaning
The current crisis of climate change around the world can be better understood with the concept of human-environment interactions. But what does human-environment interaction mean? Buzzle answers this question with a few examples, by telling you how it plays an important role in countries like Brazil, China, Germany, Egypt, besides several others.
Did You Know?
It is thought that human-environment interactions first assumed a significant role about 700,000 years ago, when our ape-like ancestors understood the use of fire.
In the year 1984, the National Council of Geographic Education and the Association of American Geographers decided that 'Geography' should be taught in the US using a system called the 'Five Themes of Geography'. In this system, the subject is taught in terms of themes like location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region.
As its name suggests, the location deals with the geographical position of a place on the Earth's surface in terms of latitude and longitude. On the other hand, the concept of place specifies the physical characteristics of a region, like hot, wet, cold, etc. The aspect of movement deals with the immigration and transportation patterns in the region. On the other hand, a region specifies an area which has one common characteristic. Let us now understand the concept of human-environment interaction, with a few of its examples.
Human-environment Interaction Meaning
Human-environment interaction is a phenomenon which describes how human beings interact with the environment to obtain their needs from it, and how the environment, in turn, responds to this interaction. On the other hand, it indicates how humans themselves have to adapt to the environment to ensure their survival. It deals with human society as a whole, rather than individuals. The acronym DAM (Depend-Adapt-Modify) or MAD, is used to explain this process, as given below.
Depend
Humans depend on the environment to obtain resources for their survival as well as development of their civilization. These resources include food, clean drinking water, timber for construction, fiber for clothing, coal and natural gas for industries and energy, etc.
Adapt
Humans have to adapt to those conditions in the environment which they cannot modify, to ensure fulfillment of their needs. Examples of such conditions include, building houses on higher ground in flood-prone areas, using the natural slope of the land to transport water for irrigation, wearing warm clothes in colder climates and vice versa, etc.
Modify
Humans can modify the environment to make it easier to extract resources, so that their needs are fulfilled in a better way. Such modifications can include drilling holes in the ground for oil extraction, building dams for water storage and flood control, farming on terraces to increase crop production for a large population, etc.
These human-environment interactions mostly produce positive effects for society, but they also have far-reaching consequences on the environment. However, a few of these interactions may be beneficial or have no consequences on the environment. Examples of such consequences are the recreational use of mountainous regions for skiing or hiking, or ecotourism. In most cases though, the environment ends up being harmed. Human activities have ended up polluting the air, water, and soil. This has led to increasing surface temperatures of the Earth (global warming), which has placed coastal towns around the world at risk of being submerged. The destruction of forests for cultivation and timber production has endangered many species of plants and animals, putting entire ecosystems under threat.
Human-environment Interaction Examples
In China
Depend
Most of the Chinese population depends on the environment for survival as well as economic stability, as the predominant occupation in the country is agriculture, which requires fertile soil and access to land.
Adapt
The people have adapted to the abundance of streams, rivers, and lakes in the country, by using these for drinking water and irrigation. The ancient Chinese even built an elaborate canal system to enable trade and communication with distant places.
Modify
Examples of how the country has modified its environment includes terrace farming, and construction of dams for flood prevention and power generation. These have affected both, the environment and people. Terrace farming has led to high rates of soil erosion. The 'Three Gorges' dam is one of the most environmentally-damaging one on the Earth, besides posing a danger of inundating low-lying areas in the country.
Gorges Dam in China
Gorges Dam in China
In Egypt
Depend
Since ancient times, the Egyptians have depended on the ample resources of fish found in the Nile river for food. The river also provides water for drinking and irrigation, since water is a rarity in the desert. The annual flooding of the river also regularly added valuable nutrients to the soil.
Adapt
People adapted to the annual floods by rebuilding their houses after every flood. Later, they began constructing houses above the flood plains, where they would not be inundated.
Modify
To provide water for agriculture, they constructed irrigation channels from the Nile to their crops. To prevent flooding and reduce water scarcity, the government has built the Aswan dam on the river. But this dam has created the problem of silt accumulation, along with reducing the fertility of downstream areas which received silt deposited by the river in the past.
Aswan Dam in Egypt
Aswan Dam Structure in Egypt
In India
Depend
India, being an agricultural country, depends to a large extent on its land for agriculture, which feeds its large population and generates revenue. It has a large number of tribal communities which depend entirely on the forests for their survival. The developing economy also depends upon ores of coal, oil, natural gas, iron, bauxite, and other minerals required by industries.
Adapt
Farmers use the fertile plains drained by the rich river network for agriculture. They also synchronize the sowing season of crops with the onset of the monsoons to make use of the abundant rainfall. Besides, livestock have been traditionally sent for grazing in natural grasslands.
Modify
The country has modified the environment by utilizing the abundance of streams and rivers to dispose sewage and industrial effluents. Forests are cleared to provide land for industrial projects and gain access to mines. This has affected the environment adversely. The Ganga, the country's most important river, has become the world's most polluted one. Both, tribal groups and wildlife are rendered homeless by deforestation.
Ganga River in India
Ganga River in India
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In Germany
Depend
Considered to be one of the most industrialized nations in Europe and the world, Germany depends on the environment for timber, salt, potash, uranium, copper, iron, natural gas, and other deposits, which fuels its large number of industries.
Adapt
The country has adapted to its varied environment. Northern Germany has access to the North and Baltic Sea, and hence, fishery is a common occupation in this part. This region being colder, has more forest cover, and thus, major industrial projects are restricted to the south. Besides, the country has a thriving tourism industry, owing to its beautiful mountain ranges, which provide ideal locations for mountain climbing, hiking, and skiing.
Modify
Germany has a large network of highways and streets, which facilitates rapid transport and communication, apart from a large number of industries. This results in a large amount of gaseous pollutants like carbon and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to acid rain, which is killing the country's oak trees.
Frankfurt cross highway in Germany
Frankfurt Cross Highway in Germany
In Malaysia
Depend
Malaysia depends on the fertility and availability of land for cultivation of palm and rubber trees. It also depends on its natural deposits of tin ore, since the economy of the country is based largely on the export of tin, palm oil, and rubber.
Adapt
Since Malaysia has a high concentration of tropical rainforests, these provide an ideal climate for plantations. So, the country cultivates tropical trees like palm and rubber, which thrive in such warm and moist conditions.
Modify
The country has modified its environment in various ways to ensure its economic development. Large sections of forests have been felled to pave way for cultivation and enable an elaborate transportation network. This has led to rapid deforestation, increased soil erosion, and increased frequency of flooding in the country.
Oil plantation In Malaysia
Oil Plantation In Malaysia
In France
Depend
The country depends on its natural resources to obtain food and drinking water, apart from coal, and other ores like bauxite, zinc, uranium, antimony, arsenic, and feldspar. The economy depends on the natural surroundings for tourism, along with the abundance of fish, since fishery is an important occupation along with agriculture.
Adapt
The people adapt to the varied climatic conditions in the region by wearing different clothing. For example, people in the north wear moderately warm clothes in winter, and light clothes in summer, as compared to the Alps, where people dress up much warmer throughout the year owing to the colder temperature. People also consume those food crops which thrive in the area. For example, people in the south use a lot of local herbs, tomatoes, and olive oil in their diet.
Modify
People modify the environment to suit their needs. The ski tracks of the Alps draw a large number of tourists every year. Farther down south, the flat and warmer land is used for agriculture. Land is deforested to obtain timber for construction, and coal is extracted from mines. Because of the pollution caused by industries, acid rain is a major problem in this region. Besides, deforestation has pushed several animal species to the brink of extinction.
In North Korea
Depend
The country depends on the fertility of the land for agriculture (rice, soybeans, potatoes, etc), which produces food for the population and supports the economy. Besides, the country needs minerals like coal, iron, zinc, and bauxite for its industries and the manufacture of weapons.
Adapt
North Koreans have to adapt to environmental challenges like periodic droughts and floods, which leads to famines. Besides, they also have to deal with shortages in fuel and equipment, which makes agriculture difficult in remote areas.
Modify
The people have modified the environment by clearing land for timber, construction, and cultivation. This has led to rapid deforestation and soil erosion. An increase in industrialization has led to air pollution and acid rain, and the burgeoning population has caused sewage-disposal problems in the rivers.
In Nigeria
Depend
Nigerians depend on soil fertility to grow crops, which provides food and economic security. Besides, the country also depends on its coal, oil, and natural gas reserves for trade, which provides revenue to the country.
Adapt
The people adapt to the arid land by feeding weeds to livestock and fertilizing the soil with manure. Moreover, they have to deal with regular droughts, which prevent them from growing crops, and floods, which submerge towns along the coast.
Modify
Two examples by which they modify the environment is, by drilling holes in the ground to extract fuel like coal, oil, and natural gas. They also turn the soil over by using ox-driven plows.
In Brazil
Depend
Around 1/5 of the country's population is dependent on agriculture. The country also needs timber, tools, medicines, and other products from its tropical forests. Besides, the Amazon region also serves as a tourist attraction, which is a driving factor for the country's economy. Brazil is also rich in deposits of metal ores like copper, iron, aluminum, tin, and magnesium.
Adapt
The country has adapted to its moist, tropical climate by cultivating water-intensive crops like rice and sugarcane. They have also made use of the natural fertility of the soil, by using the slash-and-burn method of agriculture. Such high fertility has also enabled farmers in the northern part of the country to survive just on the crops that they grow, which is called subsistence agriculture.
Modify
The country has modified its environment by clearing large sections of its rainforests to enable cultivation and obtain timber. Since this comprises a large section of their annual revenue, efforts to curb deforestation have not been very successful, leading to displacement of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna.
In Italy
Depend
The economy of Italy depends on exports of wine, agricultural products, construction supplies, and footwear. Thus, it depends on land for agriculture and industrial projects, like wineries and tanneries.
Adapt
The people have adapted to the climate by building houses suited to life along the coast, and including fish in their diet. The region has several volcanoes, whose eruptions have enriched the soil in the past. This fertility is exploited for the cultivation of grapes, citrus fruits, macaroni, olives, and rice.
Modify
Since ancient times, the people of this region have used aqueducts to transport freshwater to their crops and homes. Land is also cleared to allow cultivation, and rivers are used to transport wastes like sewage. This has polluted both, the coastal and inland rivers, causing algal blooms which threaten aquatic life.
As can be seen from these examples, the environment has molded human civilizations around the world, but at the same time, these civilizations also shaped the environment in their own way. For this reason, man has played a significant role in the current crisis of climate change that the world faces.
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