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Understanding Your Own Ecology

written by: JenniferB•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 8/28/2009

Did you know that humans have an ecology just like plants and animals? Discover what a human ecology is and why having a good understanding of it is crucial for preserving biodiversity.

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    What is Ecology?

    The word ecology is being used more and more as environmental issues become increasingly reported on in the news. But surprisingly few people can actually define this important term. Generally, when scientist uses the word ecology, they are referring to an organism’s relationship with other plant and animal species in its environment and with biotic, or nonliving, components of the environment as well. But did you know that humans have an ecology, to? Many argue that if more people understood this important concept and applied it to human life, we would be far more aware of our actions and how they affect our immediate and global ecosystems.

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    Assessing Human Ecology

    Human populations, like all animal and plant populations, require and consume resources while also producing waste. Despite how closely attuned many of us are with our local communities, few of us truly understand where our resources come from and where our waste goes. In other words, we do not have a good understanding of human ecology.

    Understanding our ecology is important so that we realize the capacity of the natural environment in our bioregion and design ways of living that maximize a region’s natural gifts and respect of its limits. The consequences of not understanding the impact that our human communities have on the surrounding biological community cause pollution, biodiversity loss and depletion of natural resources. To assess your own ecological awareness as it relates to your life, see if you can answer the following questions.

    1. What body of water serves as your source of tap water?

    2. What are the main agricultural crops that are produced in your area?

    3. How is your electricity generated?

    4. Where does your garbage go after you take out the trash?

    5. What happens to the waste in your toilet once it’s flushed?

    Could you answer one or more of these important questions? For the ones that remain a mystery, seek out the answers using local resources to help you learn more. Most often, workers at local utility companies and water treatment companies are more than happy to explain how their operations work.