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People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-87747-0
272 pages
August 2016, Wiley-Blackwell
People and Nature: An Introduction to Human Ecological Relations, 2nd Edition (1118877470) cover image


Now updated and expanded, People and Nature is a lively, accessible introduction to environmental anthropology that focuses on the interactions between people, culture, and nature around the world.

  • Written by a respected scholar in environmental anthropology with a multi-disciplinary focus that also draws from geography, ecology, and environmental studies
  • Addresses new issues of importance, including climate change, population change, the rise of the slow food and farm-to-table movements, and consumer-driven shifts in sustainability
  • Explains key theoretical issues in the field, as well as the most important research, at a level appropriate for readers coming to the topic for the first time
  • Discusses the challenges in ensuring a livable future for generations to come and explores solutions for correcting the damage already done to the environment
  • Offers a powerful, hopeful future vision for improved relations between humans and nature that embraces the idea of community needs rather than consumption wants, and the importance of building trust as a foundation for a sustainable future
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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition x

Acknowledgments xiii

1 Human Agency and the State of the Earth 1

Introduction 1

Can One Conceive of Ecosystems Without Human Agents? 11

Human Agency: Individuals Making a Difference 14

Overwhelming Evidence for Concern with the Condition of the Earth System 17

Looking Back and Looking Forward 26

Additional Resources 27

References 28

2 A Reminder: How Things Were… 33

The Study of Human Ecological Relations 33

The Contemporary Study of Environmental Issues: The Rise of Cross ]Disciplinary Team ]Based Approaches 39

The Evolution of Human–Environment Interactions 47

Hunter ]Gatherers: Setting Our Preferences 52

How Did We Decide to Become Farmers? 56

Herding and Farming: An Uneasy Relationship 59

More Food for the Masses 61

Additional Resources 64

References 64

3 The Great Forgetting 75

Earth Transformations in Prehistory 75

The Archeology of Environmental Change 83

The Urban–Industrial Revolution and the Unleashing of Prometheus 86

The Contemporary Situation: Human ]Dominated Ecosystems 89

Additional Resources 91

References 92

4 The Web of Life: Are We In It? 96

The Web of Life and Trophic Relations: Thinking Ecologically 96

Ecosystem Productivity and Net Primary Production 103

Land Use and Long ]Term Disturbance 105

Additional Resources 117

References 117

5 What Makes People Do That? 122

Learning, Adaptation, and Information 122

Mitigation and the Cautionary Principle 135

Transforming the Face of the Earth: Making Better Decisions 136

Additional Resources 139

References 140

6 Population and Environment 145

Theories about Population 146

The Demographic Transition 147

Aging and International Flows of Labor 150

Addressing the Needs of 10 Billion People 153

Changing the Population and Environment Nexus 159

Additional Resources 162

References 163

7 Rebuilding Communities and Institutions 166

Community in Human Evolution 166

What is Sacred in Human Evolution? 169

Tragedies of the Commons 172

Institutions and Self ]Organization 176

Bioregionalism, Deep Ecology, and Embedding People in Nature 180

Additional Resources 182

References 183

8 Can We Learn When We Have Enough? 188

Material Boys and Material Girls 188

Patterns of Consumption in Developed Countries 189

Patterns of Consumption in Developing Countries 196

A Feeding Frenzy and a Crisis in Public Health 200

Burning Fossil Fuels instead of Calories 202

Do We Have Enough Material Goods Now? 205

Additional Resources 207

References 208

9 Quality of Life: When Less Is More 210

Resource Abundance versus Resource Scarcity 210

When Less is More 220

The Scale of the Problem and the Scale of the Solution 229

Restoring Our Balance: Valuing Community and Trust 233

Are We Happier When We Have More? 238

References 241

Index 244

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Author Information

Emilio F. Moran is John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor at the Center for Global Change and Earth Observations, the Center for System Integration and Sustainability, and the Department of Geography at Michigan State University, USA.  Until 2012, he was Distinguished Professor and the James H. Rudy Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, USA. He is the author of ten books, fifteen edited volumes, and more than 190 journal articles and book chapters, which address human interaction with the environment under conditions of change. Most recently, he is the author of Environmental Social Science: Human-Environment Interactions and Sustainability(Wiley Blackwell, 2010). He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, the American Anthropological Association, the Society for Applied Anthropology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.
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Exceedingly welcome, highly readable and very much up to date, People and Nature plumbs the complex environmental challenge we have created, but also lights the ways forward to reconciliation between humanity and the environment.
Thomas E. Lovejoy, George Mason University

Addresses the reciprocal interactions between people and nature, highlighting the current urgency of many global situations … there are no truly global solutions, instead, the author discusses the large variety of possible pathways and strategies we, as a society, can take to achieve sustainability. The second edition adds and expands discussion of the challenges to sustainability, the crisis of the growing human population, and climate change. People and Nature fills an ever-increasing need in addressing our current global environmental problems – tied to past, current and future societal issues and behaviors. 
Jane Southworth, University of Florida

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