Monday, June 30, 2014

The environment as a resource

Sites related to GeogSplace 
Spatialworlds blog
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class


The human-environment link and resources

A key aspect of the Environment (the atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere, including the living and non-living elements) concept in Geography is the fact that it is not only about studying the environment as an end in itself but about how the environment influences humans, and in turn how humans influence the environment. This is what makes geography geography, as opposed to Earth Science which is focussed wholly on the physical processes of the Earth. 

The concept of environment in geography is about the significance of the environment in human life, and the important interrelationships between humans and the environment. In particular geographers look at:
  • the environment as a product of geological, atmospheric, hydrological, geomorphic, edaphic (soil), biotic and human processes.
  • how the environment supports and enriches human and other life by providing raw materials and food, absorbing and recycling wastes, maintaining a safe habitat and being a source of enjoyment and inspiration. It presents both opportunities for, and constraints on, human settlement and economic development. The constraints can be reduced but not eliminated by technology and human organisation.
  • the ways culture, population density, type of economy, level of technology, values and environmental worldviews influence the different ways in which people perceive, adapt to and use similar environments.

Most importantly humans use the environment to live - we call these environmental resources. In this section of the Core topic we examine the use of resources by humans. As the SACE Curriculum outlines for the resources section:


·   Changing perceptions of resources over time, including Indigenous perceptions

·   The distinction between renewable and non-renewable resources

·   The concept of an ecological footprint as a measure of the relationship between population and resources

   case studies involving the comparison of ecological footprints from economically developed countries with those from economically less-developed countries

·   Comparisons of global per capita consumption rates of key resources such as energy

·   The impact of the use of resources on an ecosystem

   basic principles of the ecosystem model, illustrating the interrelationship of its elements and the implications for the use of resources

·   Sustainable use of resources

Case Study of a Resource: Water

·   Importance of water as a resource

   processes and biophysical systems

   the hydrological cycle

   the global distribution of fresh water

   sources of fresh water (e.g. catchments and groundwater, the transboundary nature of catchments and sources of groundwater, local sources of fresh water, and seasonal and yearly fluctuations in rainfall)

Case studies illustrating the social, economic, and environmental consequences of human interaction with source(s) of fresh water and the diversity of views and perceptions

   future possibilities and moves towards the sustainable use of water (e.g. agreements between countries and regions, whole-catchment management, regulation and appropriate pricing, and contemporary developments in sources of fresh water)

 An interesting aspect of the human - environment link is the associated phenomenon of interdependency. It is important to note that the link is often two-way and in turn creates degrees of interdependencies between humans and the environment. To elucidate these links and interdependencies between humans and the environment here are some fantastic video clips from the BBC Human Planet Explorer site.  These 3-4 minute clips from vastly contrasting world environments, show some amazing WOW (World of Wonder) geogstories about important interrelationships between humans and the environment.

Here are some amazing environment-human geogstories from the Human Planet Explorer site:

* Building an Igloo

Holiday reading from Global Interactions  Book 1:
  • Biophysical interactions: Page 8-16
  • Biosphere: Page 108-137
  • Natural resources use: Page 260-276
Holiday reading from Essentials
  • Resources and Development: Page 119-127

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