8 Universal Ways How Humans Interact With The Environment

Patterns of how human relations with the natural environment.In the process of understanding the interaction of nature and society, a number of patterns that are of great importance for nature management were identified. Below are a number of such patterns.

The law of the indispensability of the biosphere: the biosphere cannot be replaced by artificial environment.

The law of the transformation of society into a planetary scale (the law of V.I. Vernadsky): the activity of mankind has an impact on the biosphere, the scale of which is comparable with geological processes.

The law of shagreen leather: the global initial natural resource potential in the course of historical development is continuously depleted.

The feedback law of interaction in the “man-biosphere” system (P. Dansero, 1957): any change in the natural environment caused by human activities, boomerang back to man and has undesirable consequences that affect the economy, social life and health of people.

The law of irreversibility of interaction in the “man-biosphere” system (II. Dansero, 1957): some renewable natural resources (animal, plant, etc.) can become non-renewable if human activity makes their livelihoods and reproduction impossible.

The law of the dynamic relationship between society and the biosphere: in the process of extensification and intensification of technical-anthropogenic activity, not only society affects the environment; changing ecosystems are becoming a significant factor in influencing major social institutions. Their “greening” becomes one of the conditions for the survival of society [1] .

The first law of N. F. Reimers , or the rule of social-ecological

equilibrium: a society develops then and to the extent that the balance between its “pressure” on the environment and the possibility of restoring this environment by natural or artificial means is maintained.

The second law of N. F. Reimers, or the principle of cultural development management, states that religion, customs and legal laws formulated the rules of human behavior in their relationships with nature and within society in accordance with the first law. All of this was ultimately aimed at maintaining a balance between the developing society and the environment of its development.

The laws formulated by the American ecologist D. Chiraz in 1991-1993 are important for the rational use of nature. The logic of D. Chiraz’s reasoning is simple: if nature exists and evolves due to the action of the following laws:

  • 1) recycling,or reuse of the most important chemical elements that make up our earth;
  • 2) constant renewal of resources;
  • 3) minimum resource consumption(living beings consume only what is necessary for life and reproduction);
  • 4) population control– nature “does not allow” the uncontrolled growth of the population of any living organisms, then humanity should be guided by the same laws in relations with the natural environment, otherwise sustainable development of humanity and the biosphere is impossible.

The principle of natural chain reactions caused by various interventions in ecosystems can be illustrated with the following examples:

  • the disappearance of the insect shedding makes it impossible to bear certain types of plants. This, in turn, leads to disruption of the vital activity or extinction of animals that feed on these plants, and, consequently, on otherspecies that are included in the food chains (predators, parasites, etc.). The end result is the destruction of the food chains, the depletion of ecosystems, the reduction of their stability;
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus in the form of nitrates and phosphates are the most important elements of the vital activity of organisms. However, an increase in their content in the aquatic environment(primarily as a result of washing away of mineral fertilizers from the fields) leads to intensive reproduction of algae, especially blue-green (cyanobacteria). The decomposition of organic matter – the products of vital activity of algae – leads to the loss of oxygen by water and the transformation of the aquatic ecosystem into a swamp;
  • Temperature is a major environmental factor. However, an increase in the temperature of the aquatic environment leads to thermal pollution, and then to a change of diatoms to green and the latter to cyanobacteria, with the end result of accumulation of dead organic matter and the consequences listed in the previous example;
  • The result of the cuttings of northern forests is soil compaction by technique and water accumulation on its surface. Next, the positive feedback effect is triggered: plants and water accumulators (sphagnum and other mosses) settle and grow, which, in turn, results in the transformation of forest lands into swamp lands, their loss of productivity.

The principle of incompleteness of information in environmental management is the provision according to which, when conducting actions on the transformation of nature, information is always insufficient to judge all possible results of such a transformation.

The principle of remoteness of the event: the descendants will invent something to prevent possible negative consequences.

And, of course, interactions in the “biosphere – humanity” system are based primarily on fundamental laws.

From school everyone knows the laws of conservation, including the law of conservation of mass: the mass of substances that react, is equal to the mass of substances formed as a result of the reaction. Now compare this fundamental law with the basic principle of ecosystem functioning: obtaining resources and disposing of waste occur within the cycle of all elements [2]. And as a result: the main criterion of evolutionary selection is the inscription into the global biotic circulation.

In nature, the concept of “waste” as such does not exist – waste of some living organisms – a necessary condition for the existence of others. Fallen leaves, stems, carcasses and animal excrement become food for other organisms – insects, worms, fungi, bacteria, they decompose into simple compounds and, in this form, sooner or later they are consumed by plants again. At the same time, in general for the biosphere, when the mass balance is quantitative, the equality of the rates of synthesis and decay is always observed. This means a high degree of closure of the cycle of substances in the biosphere.

Any substance produced by organisms must have an enzyme that decomposes it. And all decay products must be involved in the cycle.1 . The degree of closure of the cycle of substances in the technosphere [3] [4] is an order of magnitude lower than in the biosphere. “Special problems arise with those substances synthesized by man for the first time that do not have natural analogues and, therefore, for which there are no systems in nature (organisms or abiotic processes) capable of reducing these substances to the original chemical elements” [5] . In the modern world, the set of decomposers of the biosphere cannot cope with the destruction of the enormous mass of anthropogenic pollution of the environment, which leads to a crisis in the reliability of ecosystems.

For those who want to know more

The total mass of waste from a modern human economy (with the exception of simple gaseous substances — oxygen, nitrogen, and water vapor) is no less than 140 Gt per year. Of 140 Gt / year, about 9 Gt form a mass of products, i.e. “Deferred waste”. Thus, on average, about 22 tons of all anthropogenic emissions per year per inhabitant of the planet. In the world chemical nomenclature there are more than 10 million individual substances; annually their number increases by several thousand.

Thus, the assertion that the main criterion in deciding whether a new substance can be synthesized and using what is already known — the global biotic circulation — becomes obvious (axiom). In other words, each substance synthesized in the laboratory, formed as a result of the technological process and not having analogues in nature, must correspond to a living organism that has an enzyme that can decompose this substance into the simplest substances that can enter into the circulation of substances, and not become waste.

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