Managing Planet Earth: Perspectives on Population, Ecology, and the Law

By Miguel A. Santos | Go to book overview

2
Natural Resources, Pollution, and Carrying Capacity

In recent years the realization that the human population is depleting the planet's natural resources and polluting the environment has generated a strong interest in the study of human environments. The study of humans and their environment covers a very broad range of topics. The human environment, for example, includes the combination of physical and biological conditions that affect and influence mankind, as well as the complexity of social and cultural conditions that affect the nature of an individual or the community. Thus, in order to study humans and their environment one would need to know art, biology, chemistry, ecology, economics, engineering, physics, psychology, sociology, or just about all of the disciplines found in a university curriculum.

Therefore, it is suggested for academic convenience, that we disregard the distinction between humans and their environment and instead consider humans and their environment as an interacting unit called the "anthroposystem." This system is a functional and structural unit of interwoven and overlapping hierarchies of organization, which maintains human civilization in space and time. An anthroposystem is a structural and functional unit of the ecosphere because it can be considered a self-contained system, provided it has an energy source.

What few people seem to realize is that more progress has been made in dealing with discrete factors of our environment (e.g., with

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Managing Planet Earth: Perspectives on Population, Ecology, and the Law
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Human Population and Carrying Capacity 1
  • 2 - Natural Resources, Pollution, and Carrying Capacity 33
  • 3 - Criteria for Determining Earth's Carrying Capacity 77
  • 4 - World Order and Environmental Stability 101
  • 5 - Problems and Prospects 123
  • Conclusion 141
  • Glossary 143
  • Bibliography 153
  • Name Index 165
  • Subject Index 169
  • About the Author 173
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