Once, thousands of years ago, all humans were supported directly and entirely by nature. Our food, water, and everything else came directly from natural ecosystems as our ancestors, hunter-gatherers, went about their business for a million or more years. We cannot go back easily to that state because of population growth, for natural ecosystems alone could probably support no more than a few hundreds of millions of people. Today fossil-fueled systems of agriculture, water supply, and waste disposal support seven billion people on the planet. Most humans live in environments of concrete, boards, and macadam largely disconnected from the natural world. Although nature remains very popular in zoos and on television, and lucky youngsters still go camping with their parents, our population is increasingly disconnected from experiencing real nature or even rural agricultural landscapes, or from understanding our dependence upon these systems. Food comes from markets, water from faucets, entertainment from electronics encased in plastic boxes, and so on. But in fact all of these resources and toys and much more are all ultimately derived from nature, and their provision is usually associated with some degradation of nature and diminishment of natural resources. In general we do not pay for nature’s goods and services but only for the energy, labor, and equipment to extract them. In fact we might argue that it is only because we do not pay for these things that we can afford to live at all, or certainly at the present level of general affluence.
KeywordsBiomass Burning Dioxide Corn Mercury
- 1.Staubaugh, R. and D. Yergin. 1979. Energy future: The report of the energy project at the harvard business school. New York: Random House, N.Y.Google Scholar
- 2.Hall, C.A.S. 1975. The biosphere, the industriosphere and the interactions. Bull. At. Sci. 31: 11–21.Google Scholar
- 3.Hall, M.H., R. Germain, and M. Tyrrell. 2010. Predicting Future Water Quality from Land Use Change Projections in the Catskill-Delaware Watersheds. Final report to the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. http://redir.aspx?C=95f13948884f410183203d8059421dca&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.esf.edu%2fes%2fhall%2fwater.pdf” http://www.esf.edu/es/hall/water.pdf and HYPERLINK “redir.aspx?C=95f13948884f410183203d8059421dca & URL=http%3a%2f%2fresearch.yale.edu%2fgisf%2fCatskill_report%2findex.htm” http://research.yale.edu/gisf/Catskill_report/index.htm.
- 4.Hall, C.A.S. 1977. The Hudson River striped bass example. In Hall, C. A. S. and J. W. Day. Ecosystem modeling in theory and practice. Wiley Interscience.Google Scholar
- 5.Hagens, N., K. Mulder and N. Fisher. 2010. Burning water: Energy return on water invested. AMBIO Volume 39, Number 1/February, 2010.Google Scholar