Biologist Robert Waide is executive director of the Long Term Ecological Research Network. He spoke with EarthSky about how humans and nature are coupled, or linked. He said:
The planet itself is the ultimate coupled human-nature system.
Most human populations depend on natural systems. They depend on agricultural systems and the soil that’s built up over many thousands of years. They depend on water quality and quantity, which comes from natural systems, and on clean air. At the same time, we all have an impact on nature, whether we realize it or not.
All kinds of local activity can affect global resources, he said.
Everything that humans do on the planet collectively effects the entire operation of the planet’s ecosystems. I think that’s a pretty important – and pretty scary – thing sometimes, especially with the way things are changing in the world now.
Waide said that’s why he’s so interested in what he calls environmental literacy – educating citizens about their natural surroundings so that they can make wiser, healthier choices.
Americans have a particular responsibility because of their high use of energy and resources, and the amount of greenhouse gases generated in this country. We only have one Earth, and we don’t get any do-overs. So we’d better get it right the first time.
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