When you read the news about environmental issues, it virtually always centers on climate change.

Human activities are creating long-term harm in this area, but other aspects of human-environment interactions merit equal attention.

The majority of people might be unaware of how much our daily activities as humans impact our ecosystem. Let’s begin with an explanation.

Table of Contents

What is Human-Environment Interaction? 

The linkages between humans and the entire ecological unit are referred to as human-environment interaction

Human social systems and their surroundings are complex adaptive systems. They’re complicated because environmental units and human social systems contain many elements and connections. 

The feedback systems that support survival in a constantly changing environment are responsible for adaptiveness.

Types of Human Interaction

1. Depending on the environment

Every living thing in this world is reliant on the environment in which it exists. Living organisms cannot survive without interaction, whether for air, water, food, or shelter.

On the other hand, humans have expanded to the point where someone living in Boston may be reliant on the environment in Central America for particular foods or on minerals mined in China for electronics.

Essentially, everything you see is entirely reliant on environmental resources that originate thousands of miles away.

2. Modification of the environment

Human actions frequently cause environmental change, which can have beneficial and harmful consequences.

Even the most environmentally friendly farming methods and renewable energy projects require natural resources.

Humans consume a growing quantity of land to construct homes, shopping malls, and schools. When it gets colder, we burn coal, wood, and oil that we all acquire from our environment.

It’s both exciting and frightening to stop and look at your phone, car, house, and everything else around you in this way.

3. Adaptation to the environment

People live in the oddest areas, partly due to evolutionary achievements. The better a species adapts to changes in its environment, the more likely it is to survive.

You can see how much we’ve adapted to our natural habitat by looking for individuals living above the arctic circle, in dense wildernesses, and dry savannahs.

Examples of Human-Environment Interaction

Human-Environment interaction framework| Flowchart by Bogdan Vasile

1. Natural resource utilization

People use various natural resources in their daily lives, including lumber, metals, and oil. 

There is also a reliance on food and water to survive. People use energy for various reasons, including domestic cooking and industrial purposes. 

Clothing, transportation services, building, technological devices, and other commonly used things all require different resources to be manufactured.

Natural resource demand continues to rise as the world’s population grows, and per capita consumption increases with socio-economic progress—natural resource depletion due to extraction and exploitation, particularly concerns for nonrenewable resources.

2. Deforestation

Deforestation is a problematic situation that arises due to the overuse of natural resources and represents human-environmental interaction. When forests are cleared, the trees are not restored or regrown. 

Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, America, Congo, and India have removed a large portion of their forests for economic and agricultural objectives to meet food, fuel, and construction material demands.

These operations have resulted in a continuous loss of forestland, which is currently occurring. Deforestation has a slew of negative consequences. 

For starters, they are home to a diverse range of trees, plants, and creatures, ranging from tiny insects to birds, mammals, and reptiles. 

Converting forests to agricultural lands reduces biodiversity, which is essential for humans because they rely on other living organisms to provide a variety of needs, including:

Food: It is obtained from plants such as wheat, rice, maize, and animals like fish, poultry, and cows.

Medicine: Many traditional medicines are derived from plants and animals and generate new ones.

Ecological processes: Organisms such as plants and microbes have an essential part in preserving people’s lives and the ecosystem by providing oxygen, purifying the air, disinfecting the water, digesting wastes, and preventing soil erosion.

3. Water Resources

The utilization of water resources is a strong indicator of human interaction with the environment. Water is used for various purposes, including home, agricultural, and industrial processes. 

In different places of the cosmos, the relative quantities of the three groupings differ. On the other hand, agriculture consumes the most significant amount of water. Water demand is increasing, resulting in unsustainable usage of water resources.

Water is refilled when it is recycled; however, extracting large amounts of water from water bodies for home, agricultural, or industrial purposes reduces the amount of water available for current and future generations.

Water withdrawals have increased globally over the last three decades due to rising population and per capita consumption.

4. Usage of Aerosoles

Aerosol impacts on the environment - human-environment interaction
More Aerosol More cloud| Illustration by IITM

Aerosols are used in a variety of ways. Aerosols poison nature and contribute to climate change by promoting global warming. 

Even if you use non-CFS sprays, keep in mind that they can contribute to the warming effect of greenhouse gases in the environment. 

Furthermore, the chemicals ejected by aerosols devastate our planet’s ecosystem and cause significant ailments like asthma.

5. Ecotourism

Given that humans rely on the environment, travel organizations devised a strategy to combine tourism and environmental protection. 

The development of ecological consciousness and a respectful attitude toward the local culture are two essential aspects of ecotourism.

Furthermore, this is a fantastic approach to limit the environmental harm caused by typical tourists and assist the local community. 

The government of Madagascar, for example, has been able to reduce its 81 percent poverty rate by boosting ecotourism.

6. Production of Autmobies

Cars allow people to move faster, traverse more considerable distances, and access previously inaccessible things. 

Despite this, automobiles have harmed the cosmos; transportation services account for more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Air pollution has become so dangerous that it is responsible for approximately 800,000 people each year.

Not to mention vehicle-related accidents, which claim the lives of approximately 1.1 million people each year. 

Road construction devastates biological units, and automobiles emit a great deal of noise, driving many species away from their natural habitats placing them in jeopardy of extinction.

7. Littering

Litter has several harmful consequences, including the obstructing of waterways. When plastics are dumped inappropriately, they migrate towards rivers after heavy rains and eventually wind up in drainage pipes and sewer systems. 

After a period, the trash clogs the filters installed in the pipes, causing the pipes to burst. Another effect is that it provides a haven for disease vectors to hide, reproduce, and multiply. The vectors eventually multiply in quantity, spreading diseases to animals and people.

8. Oil and gas drilling

offshore oil drilling setup - human-environment interaction
Offshore Oil drilling setup| Detailing by Helen Sheplyakova

Oil and gas are extracted for a variety of purposes. On the other hand, oil and gas extraction has several negative consequences for the environment. 

Oil spills have significant financial products; they disrupt transportation and hurt residents; when birds become oiled, they lose their ability to seek food, essential for their existence.

Individuals are also exposed to unsafe seafood as a result of spills. Offshore drilling produces waste materials that poison aquatic species when they enter the water. 

While drilling for oil, the potential of being hurt and dying is always present. Storms and drilling mishaps have claimed the lives of countless people. The oil and gas drilling activities have similar long-term effects on the environment. 

Heavy machinery, such as bulldozers, and road building, in the process, end up irreversibly harming the environment. 

The principal byproduct of drilling, methane, also contributes to climate change, resulting in changes in rainfall patterns, glacier melting, and rising sea levels.

9. Energy Resource

As energy is utilized to power transportation and communication systems, electrical equipment, and our homes and businesses, the usage of renewable or nonrenewable sources demonstrates human-environmental interaction.

Fossil fuels, for example, have been a significant component of globalization. Still, because they cannot be replenished, their supply will soon be insufficient, and their use will be unsustainable in the long run. With its limitations, fossil fuels are the principal cause of climate change.

Wind power, hydroelectric power, and solar power are examples of renewable sources that we can utilize instead of fossil fuels since they turn the energy of the wind, water, and sun into electricity.

Concluding Remarks

People begin interacting with their surroundings the moment they are born. For example, for years, people have been chopping down trees to clear land for planting crops, altering the ecology in the process. 

On the other hand, the environment impacts humans as well. A simple example is that people alter their attire in response to the weather, whether chilly or hot.

Floods, wildfires, drought, pollution, earthquakes, and tornadoes are all examples of significant environmental events that impact people. 

Furthermore, natural disasters such as earthquakes disrupt water, pipelines, and other transportation networks, resulting in water pollution and the inability to access critical public services.

(Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Thinley Doma Ghale holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Kathmandu University. She enjoys writing articles on climate change animals and loves to travel and experience new ideas, places, meeting people, and learning from them. As a social science student, research has always been her area of interest.