Human environment interactions

Human environment interactions

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The theory of environmental determinism ascribes a single factor as the predominant influence over the entire structure. The environmental determinism theory was among the first theories to be described that attempted to explain human and ecological interactions. The theory assigns one factor to define an entire system. Therefore, social growth, development, and activities are organized and modified by the environment. Also, cultural factors, race, and the level of intelligence are derived from natural human habitat. The theory was widely accepted in the 19th century as it provided the ideological basis for colonialism. Hippocrates and Aristotle endorsed the ideas, which were later adopted by the Romans (Gomeseria, 2016). The Romans used this theory to try to explain their predominant conquest of the rest of the world. Climate was the primary factor used to try to elaborate on human-environment interaction. Thus climate determines human behavior, a concept termed as a stimulus-response reaction. The stimulus-response response became the foundation of behavioral geography.

Climate is a major defining factor for environmental determinists. The climate determines the psychological mindset of individuals, which in turn influences their behavior and culture. For example, Jamaicans are stereotyped to be lazy, relaxed, and undetermined. An environmental critique would argue that their character arises from Jamaica’s location in a tropical climate. At the same time, people in the UK experience four seasons of different weather, and thus the determinists would argue that that is the basis of the people’s determination and hard work. The theory has many flaws. The approach led to generalization and did not allow for research.

The second theory of cultural determinism or possibilism was developed by critiques that saw the first theory’s flaws. The idea of possibilism is attributed to David Le Da Blanche, a French geographer. Boas first coined the possibilism term. The term means that the environment only limits the number of choices that an individual has. Thus, at its core, the theory follows that humans have absolute control over their domain, although within specific confines. Environmental possibilism has wholly substituted the theory of environmental determinism. People do not acclimatize to the environment; they instead transform the environment to suit their needs (Gomeseria, 2016).

Man has changed the environment to meet his demands. The most visible and predominant are industrial and technological revolution and agricultural advancement. For example, the industrial revolution began in Great Britain, and it has truly revolutionized the ways of life of the modern man. From Great Britain, the inventions spread to North America and the rest of Europe. The agricultural revolution began with the development of fertilizers and pesticides, new irrigation and farming methods, and organic farming. Due to advancement, there is greater output from farms to meet the demands. One cannot talk about possibilism without mention the influence of technology on human lives. Modern means of communication such as telephones, the internet, mobile phones, cable TV has turned the world into a global village. Technological advancement has also revolutionized the industrial sector using computers and robots to control the robust manufacturing process. The use of technology has increased industrial outputs and made manufacturing safer.

Of the two theories, environment possibilism gives a better explanation of human behavior and dominance. Possibilism is adaptable and relevant to the current world. The idea adapts the use of various factors to elaborate on social interactions, unlike the theory of environmental determinism, where only a single factor modulates human behavior and culture.