EG91141Human and Regional GeographyThe question I chose is: (4) What is the most important thing our human society can learn from understanding the relationships between people, culture and the natural environment? The word geography is derived from Greek word ?????????, which means “description of Earth”. First mentioned by Greek mathematician, astronomer, music theorist, philosopher Eratosthenes, geography has been developed into a multidisciplinary field of science. It aims to study diverse environments, inhabitants and phenomena on Earth surface and how they interact with each other. As a branch of Geography, human geography deals with the relationship between human communities and natural environment. Human geography tries to interpret patterns of human behaviors, as well as interdependencies between human behaviors and regions where the behaviors take place, and how they influence or affect the natural environment. (Russel, Polly) Most importantly, by understanding the relationships between people, culture and the natural environment, we human kind get an answer to not only “where objects are” but also “how they have evolved over time and what they will possibly be like & should be like”. In the paragraphs below, I will try to discuss the human-environment relationship in specific cases, and how the current and past situations help to predict the future and prevent future disasters. As introduced in class, the Amazon river Amazon River, Portuguese Rio Amazonas, is one of the greatest rivers on this planet. Originated in Peru, the Amazon river basin covers roughly 40% of South America, passing through 9 countries and its mouth opens towards the Atlantic Ocean, on the northeastern part of Brazil. Apart from its incredible size, the Amazon river creates the most unique and most magnificent tropical rain forest in the world: The Amazon rain forest, also known as “Lungs of Earth”, for functioning like an air machine that transfers a huge amount of carbon dioxide into oxygen. The Amazon is very rich in biodiversity. It is estimated that more than 50% of the world’s animal, plants and insects live in the Amazon. The earliest human activities in the Amazon started at least 11,200 years ago. The rainforest offers human kind various natural resources. Fishing is a major human activity in the Amazon since the arrival of the earliest human communities in the Amazon region. For a long time, before the industrial revolution and invention of steam engine, fishing was a seasonal activity. Fishermen in the old times hunted a limited number of species and produced mainly dried salt fish (Almeida OT, et al) The fish products were mainly aimed at the local or regional market due to harsh weather and poor transportation conditions. In the last 30 years, the game has completely changed: market forces, increasing population and advancing technologies are driving the fishing activities towards commercial. Fishing activities are performed all year round and more species are set as fishing targets. Pacu, Tambaqui are two of the most hunted species. The fish products gradually become very diverse in form, including fresh, frozen, smoked and so on. What’s more, the fresh and cooked fish products started to be sold to urban consumers and the frozen fishes are exported to oversea markets. Another typical human activity in the Amazon is logging. Tropical woods in the Amazon rainforest like teak, mahogany, and other timbers are widely used for building materials, fuel, etc. Although fishery and logging industry had brought in millions of dollars of profit, the price to be paid is not only environmental issues, but also of a decreasing life quality for human kind. Animal and fish species lose their habitat or can’t dwell in the left-over parts of forests. Animal and fish populations shrink, and eventually some become extinct. More species are influenced by hunting and fishing in the Amazons due to the depletion of species at the bottom of the food chain. Deforestation, as a result of massive logging, leads to a loss of water cycling services and oxygen production provided by the great forest. Flood occurs more frequently since 1990s, whereas massive logging began. After scientists and environmental agencies did tons of researches showing human impact is responsible for an overall degradation of natural environment and without prevention, further damage to the environment might occur, Brazil government took action. In 2001, Brazil banned mahogany trade and defined unauthorized logging of Amazons as illegal action. In addition, mahogany was listed in 2003 as CITES II, an international trade regulation that restricts trade. Besides mahogany, Brazilian Environmental Authority (IBAMA) monitors international wood trade and is responsible for intercepting illegal shipments. (“Amazon Logging”)
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