Historicaland Biological causes of the ways we see nature.
Theimpacts of man on the environment are not just the process ofincreasing its degradation, destruction or change with the increaseof the human population, industrialization and the growth of aneconomy. It is however interjected by moments where rehabilitationand reverse environmental changes occur due to lack of occupation byman due to various causes such as the decline in populations, wars,the collapse of cultures that would have destroyed the environment,and abandonment of the habitats. Change in the situations of naturecould take varied directions, and the effects of these change couldbe constructive, degenerative or benign. Although the rates at whichthe changes occur may be varied, even the slow or those with mildimpact could result in long-term effects that would be felt later dueto the accumulations over time. The changes in nature that weexperience today would be as a result of the human activities thattook part long ago with some even dating to the times before Columbus(Walsh 48). The effects of the European settlement and exploitationof resources that occurred in the most recent centuries would laterbe felt in the next two hundred and fifty years or so to come. Everyenvironment today might have been inhabited by man before and what wesee today is as a result of the individuals who lived in the sameenvironment before us. In America for example, the present natureincluding the flora, fauna, and the landscapes would be attributed tothe European settlements from the 1490s. However, concluding that thechanges of the America’s face is ultimately due to the Europeansettlement is wrong because before them, the Indians had inhabitedthe land and their activities would have also contributed to theenvironmental shape we see today. Even with present efforts onenvironmental protection, one should note that environmentalmodification has been a continuous process since time immemorial andthat what is today being protected from human disturbance had peoplebefore.
Thehistorical and biological attributes to the way we see nature today.
Fromthe book Bear (1976) it is clear that present day environment hasundergone multiple stage process of continuous change whose greatestpercentage is attributed to the human activities. These changes takedifferent directions and occur at different rates, but all lead to aresultant change in the face of the environment (Engel 63). Theexpansion of the European powers to the Americas, for example, is ofgreat impact to the state of the America’s nature today. Europeansshifted from one continent to the other, interacted with theindigenous, influenced the way of life of the indigenous and evenextended their political rule to the lands they inhabited. Theoutcome of these legacies, in turn, were the insights of theuncultivated lands in the Americas (Denevan 864). The European,therefore, developed interests in the rich uncultivated lands and hadseveral activities that led to the reshaping of the land.
Thenatural law that was of much significance to the Spanish aided themto extend their political rule to America. With the concept of thenatural law, the American territories, and their citizens were beingunited by the larger global community and the American land was moreopened to the world. This led to developed interests by variousnations. The natural law by the Spanish led to the introduction ofChristianity and the conversion of the people. The clergy startedevangelizing on the need for the indigenous to be converted and theyestablished churches and monasteries in the process. Occasionally,people would establish settlements around these religiousinstitutions which led to the clearing of land and introduction ofhuman activity to land that were initially virgin therefore changingthe face of nature.
TheSpanish also came with materialistic intentions. This led to theinteractions between the settlers and the indigenous. They hadmotives of utilizing the land, through the resources that it harborsto gain wealth that they would rather not have back in their homecountry (Denevan 869). They also had an opportunity to utilize theresources to gain a higher social and political status that would nothave attained in their instinctive country.
“Menof the plains, […] you will be independent, even if the entireworld were to oppose you. Your lances and these unpopulated regions[desiertos] will free you from tyranny. Who can subjugate such animmense space” (Walsh, 43)
Thisquest for wealth led to exploitation of land in various manners suchas cultivation and mining, and these activities led to changes in thestructure of land and modification of nature to what we see today.Development of structures from what was initially bare land or landinhabited by animals and vegetation slowly developed to what we nowsee as cities and towns.
Erosionis another factor that has shaped the face of the earth to what wesee today. Apart from natural forces, various forms of humanactivities are known to cause or elevate the rate of erosion. This isdemonstrated in the book bear when it states
“…thedamn island’s only a sandbar, you can’t farm it. You can’t putcottages on it now you have to have running water and septic tanksbecause of the pollution. All summer people want to flash toilets andwashing machines. Your shithouse, pardon me, was good ecology, asthey say” (Engel 64)
Anincrease in human population in the American land due to settlementby the Spanish and other European settlers that led to increasedpressure on the available land. The various activities such asagriculture, construction and mining led to the elevation of the rateof erosion leading to the modification of the structure of the land(Denevan 380). A significant effect of this is seen in Mexico wherenature has been reshaped for the year to create today’s Valley ofMexico. This is demonstrated in the following statement.
"animportant cycle of erosion and deposition therefore accompaniedintensive land use by huge primitive populations in central Mexico,and had gone far toward the devastation of the country before thewhite man arrived” (Walsh48)
Creationof mounds also led to the reshaping of land to what it is today.Landscape engineering and architecture started long ago. Both humansand animals are responsible for the modeling of land through theiractivities. Large amounts of soil and stone are often moved to createlarge sunken and raised surfaces. A mound of varied sizes and shapedare often created in this manner, and most of these are used forreligious purposes where they were used as temples, burial places, oreven settlements. Examples of the significant mounds present to-dateinclude the stone pyramids of Mexico and the Andes, the mounds atCahokia on the Northern parts of the Rio Grande and those close toEast St. Louis. Some of these mounds are prominent to the presentdays and have significantly changed the picture of today’s nature(Alcom 53).
Variousbiological and historical occurrences, factors and activities haveand are continuing to change nature and the environment we see today.These changes have had both good and bad impacts on today’s life.The changes take time and date back to the genesis as various humanand biological activities continue to shape the face of the earth. InAmerica for example, the European settlement led to the shaping ofthe various landforms trough activities they indulged in such asagriculture and mining. Deforestation was one of the major activitythat led to changes in nature as land covered by vegetation wasreduced and replaced by settlement areas or agricultural land (Walsh54). Deforestation also increased erosion that later created variouslandforms. Various biological factors such as reproduction also ledto changes in the appearance of the earth.
Alcom,J. B. 2012. Huastec noncrop resource management: Implications forprehistoric rain forest management. Human Ecology 9:395-417.
Acosta,Joseph [José] de. 2008. The natural and moral history of the Indies.Trans, E. Gimston, Hakluyt Society, vols. 60, 61. London.
Denevan,William M. "The pristine myth: the landscape of the Americas in1492." Annalsof the Association of American Geographers 82.3(1992): 369-385.
Engel,Marian. "Bear. 1976." London:Pandora (1988).
Walsh,Philip W. "Jefferson`s Vacant Lands and Bolívar`s"Desierto": Two Applications of Montesquieu`s Thought to theAmericas." Confluencia (2005):42-55.