The Human–Nature Relationship and Its Impact on Health: A Critical Review
This is the first time scientists have identified an ancient individual Divided by DNA: The uneasy relationship between archaeology and ancient Evidence mounts for interbreeding bonanza in ancient human species. This view of human nature has been justified by biological theories like But in fact the assumption it's based on — that prehistoric life was a. environmental relationships offered by proponents of the New Archaeology (e.g., of insular landscapes and the effects that humans have had on the natural.
Third, social health can be generalized as the ability to lead life with some degree of independence and participate in social activities Indicators of the concept revolve around social relationships, social cohesion, and participation in community activities.
Further, such mechanisms are closely linked to improving physical and mental well-being as well as forming constructs, which underline social capital. Owing to its complexity, its measurement focuses on strengths of primary networks or relationships e. Current Knowledge on the Human—Nature Relationship and Health This section summarizes existing theoretical and literature research at the intersection of the human—nature relationship and health, as defined in this review.
Physical Health Though it is widely established that healthy eating and regular exercise have major impacts on physical health 98within the past 30 years research has also identified that exposure to nature e.
Empirical research in this domain was first carried out by Ulrich 46 who found that those hospital patients exposed to natural scenery from a window view experienced decreased levels of pain and shorter recovery time after surgery.
In spite of its increasing findings, some have suggested the need for further objective research at the intersect of nature-based parameters and human health 9. This presents inherent difficulty in comparing assessment measures or different data types relative to the size and scale of the variables being evaluated 9.
Further, there still remain evidence gaps in data on what activities might increase levels of physical health as well as limited amount of longitudinal datasets from which the frequency, duration, and causal directions could be inferred Mental Health Mental health studies in the context of connecting with nature have also generated a growing research base since the emergence of the Biophilia concept in the mids Supporting research has been well documented in literature during the last few decades.
Similarly, further mixed-method approaches and larger sample sizes are needed in this research field.
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This would enhance existing evidence gaps to enhance existing knowledge of variable interlinkages with other important sources e. Social Health In the last two decades, the relationship between people and place in the context of green spaces has received much attention in academic literature in regards to its importance for the vitality of communities and their surrounding environments One of the main limitations within this field relates to the generally perceived idea that public green spaces are freely open to everyone in all capacities This limitation has been, as already, highlighted from the emerging arguments in the field of environmental justice and economic—nature conflicts As such, many researchers highlight the need to maintain awareness of other barriers that might hinder cohesion and community participation e.
Further, there still remains a gap between academic research and local knowledge, which would otherwise lead to more effective interventions.
Nonetheless, for such approach to be implemented requires sufficient time, cost, and an adequate scale of resources to ensure for aspects of coordination, communication, and data validation This in part owes to the increasing evidence accumulating in research literature centering on the relationships between the following areas: Such health-related effects that have been alluded to include chronic diseases, social isolation, emotional well-being as well as other psychiatric disorders e.
Reasons for these proposed links have been suggested to stem from various behavioral patterns e. Further, these suggested links have been inferred, by some, to be visible in other species e. Nonetheless, research within this field remains speculative with few counter examples e.
With a growing trend in the number of chronic diseases and psychiatric disorders, costs to the U. However, this anticipated trend is considered to be both undesirable and expensive to the already overwhelmed health-care system In concurrence are the associated impacts on health equity, equating to further productivity and tax losses every year in addition to a growing gap in health inequalities Furthermore, population growth in urbanized areas is expected to impact future accessibility to and overall loss of natural spaces.
Not only would this have a direct detrimental effect on the health of both humans and non-humans but equally the functioning and integrity of ecosystem services that sustain our economic productivity Thereby, costs of sustaining our human-engineered components of social—ecological systems could rise, having an indirect impact on our economic growth and associated pathways connecting to health As such, researchers have highlighted the importance of implementing all characteristics when accounting ecosystem services, particularly the inclusion of natural and health-related capital, as well as their intervening mechanisms.
This is an area, which at present remains difficult to synthesize owing to fragmented studies from a host of disciplines that are more conceptually rather than empirically based Each of us is a sensitive resonator, a kind of echo of the energy flows of the universe. So it would be quite wrong to regard only the energy of the sun as the source of life on earth and humanity as its highest manifestation. The energy of distant cosmic bodies, such as the stars and the nebulae, have a tremendous influence on the life of man as an organism.
For this reason our organisms adjust their existence and development to these flows of external energy. The human organism has developed receptors that utilise this energy or protect themselves from it, if it is harmful.
It may be said, if we think of human beings as a high-grade biological substance, that they are accumulators of intense energy drives of the whole universe. We are only a response to the vibrations of the elemental forces of outer space, which bring us into unity with their oscillations. Every beat of the organic pulse of our existence is coordinated with the pulse of the cosmic heart.
Cosmic rhythms exert a substantial influence on the energy processes in the human organism, which also has its own rhythmic beat. Man's influence on nature. Man is not only a dweller in nature, he also transforms it. From the very beginning of his existence, and with increasing intensity human society has adapted environing nature and made all kinds of incursions into it.
An enormous amount of human labour has been spent on transforming nature. Humanity converts nature's wealth into the means of the cultural, historical life of society. Man has subdued and disciplined electricity and compelled it to serve the interests of society.
Not only has man transferred various species of plants and animals to different climatic conditions; he has also changed the shape and climate of his habitation and transformed plants and animals.
If we were to strip the geographical environment of the properties created by the labour of many generations, contemporary society would be unable to exist in such primeval conditions. Man and nature interact dialectically in such a way that, as society develops, man tends to become less dependent on nature directly, while indirectly his dependence grows.
While he is getting to know more and more about nature, and on this basis transforming it, man's power over nature progressively increases, but in the same process, man comes into more and more extensive and profound contact with nature, bringing into the sphere of his activity growing quantities of matter, energy and information. On the plane of the historical development of man-nature relations we may define certain stages.
The first is that of the complete dependence of man on nature. Our distant ancestors floundered amid the immensity of natural formations and lived in fear of nature's menacing and destructive forces. Very often they were unable to obtain the merest necessities of subsistence. However, despite their imperfect tools, they worked together stubbornly, collectively, and were able to attain results.
This process of struggle between man and the elements was contradictory and frequently ended in tragedy. Nature also changed its face through interaction with man. Forests were destroyed and the area of arable land increased. Nature with its elemental forces was regarded as something hostile to man.
The forest, for example, was something wild and menacing and people tried to force it to retreat.
This was all done in the name of civilisation, which meant the places where man had made his home, where the earth was cultivated, where the forest had been cut down. But as time goes on the interaction between man and nature is characterised by accelerated subjugation of nature, the taming of its elemental forces.
The subjugating power of the implements of labour begins to approach that of natural forces. Mankind becomes increasingly concerned with the question of where and how to obtain irreplaceable natural resources for the needs of production.
Science and man's practical transforming activity have made humanity aware of the enormous geologic al role played by the industrial transformation of earth. At present the interaction between man and nature is determined by the fact that in addition to the two factors of change in the biosphere that have been operating for millions of years—the biogenetic and the abiogenetic—there has been added yet another factor which is acquiring decisive significance—the technogenetic.
As a result, the previous dynamic balance between man and nature and between nature and society as a whole, has shown ominous signs of breaking down. The problem of the so-called replaceable resources of the biosphere has become particularly acute.
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It is getting more and more difficult to satisfy the needs of human beings and society even for such a substance, for example, as fresh water. The problem of eliminating industrial waste is also becoming increasingly complex.
The threat of a global ecological crisis hangs over humanity like the sword of Damocles. His keen awareness of this fact has led man to pose the question of switching from the irresponsible destructive and polluting subjugation of nature to a reasonable harmonious interaction in the "technology-man-biosphere" system. Whereas nature once frightened us and made us tremble with her mysterious vastness and the uncontrollable energy of its elemental forces, it now frightens us with its limitations and a new-found fragility, the delicacy of its plastic mechanisms.
We are faced quite uncompromisingly with the problem of how to stop, or at least moderate, the destructive effect of technology on nature. In socialist societies the problem is being solved on a planned basis, but under capitalism spontaneous forces still operate that despoil nature's riches.
Unforeseen paradoxes have arisen in the man-nature relationship. One of them is the paradox of saturation. For millions of years the results of man's influence on nature were relatively insignificant. The biosphere loyally served man as a source of the means of subsistence and a reservoir for the products of his life activity. The contradiction between these vital principles was eliminated by the fact that the relatively modest scale of human productive activity allowed nature to assimilate the waste from labour processes.
But as time went on, the growing volume of waste and its increasingly harmful properties destroyed this balance. The human feedback into nature became increasingly disharmonised.
Human activity at various times has involved a good deal of irrational behaviour. Labour, which started as a specifically human means of rational survival in the environ ment, now damages the biosphere on an increasing scale and on the boomerang principle—affecting man himself, his bodily and mental organisation. Under the influence of uncoordinated production processes affecting the biosphere, the chemical properties of water, air, the soil, flora and fauna have acquired a negative shift.
Experts maintain that 60 per cent of the pollution in the atmosphere, and the most toxic, comes from motor transport, 20 per cent from power stations, and 20 per cent from other types of industry.
It is possible that the changes in the chemical properties of the biosphere can be somehow buffered or even halted, but the changes in the basic physical parameters of the environ ment are even more dangerous and they may turn out to be uncontrollable. We know that man can exist only in a certain range of temperature and at a certain level of radiation and electromagnetic and sound-wave intensity, that is to say, amid the physical influences that come to us from the atmosphere, from outer space and from the depths of the earth, to which we have adapted in the course of the whole history of the development of human life.
From the beginning man has existed in the biosphere, a complex system whose components are the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the phytosphere, the radiation sphere, the thermosphere, the phonosphere, and so on. All these spheres are and must remain in a natural state of balance. Any excessive upsetting of this balance must be to the detriment not only of normal existence but of any existence at all, even human vegetation.
If humanity does not succeed in preventing damage to the biosphere, we run the risk of encountering the paradox of replacement, when the higher plants and animals may be ousted by the lower. As we know, many insects, bacteria, and lichens are, thanks to their relatively simple structure, extremely flexible in adapting to powerful chemical and even physical factors, such as radiation. Mutating under the influence of an unfavourable environment, they continue their modified existence.
Man, on the other hand, "nature's crown", because of the exceptional complexity of his bodily and mental organisation and the miraculous subtlety and fragility of his genetic mechanism may, when faced with a relatively small change in the chemical and physical factors of the environment, either produce unviable progeny or even perish altogether. Another possible result of harmful influences on the environment is that the productivity of the biosphere may substantially decline.
Already we observe unfavourable shifts in the great system of the universe: Much more carbon dioxide is being produced on earth than plants can assimilate. Various chemical preparations herbicides, antibiotics, etc. Thus, not only progress but even human life itself depends on whether humanity can resolve the paradoxes in the ecological situation that have arisen today. Modern technology is distinguished by an ever increasing abundance of produced and used synthetic goods.
Hundreds of thousands of synthetic materials are being made.