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We depend on the environment for survival. Simple as that

How Humans Are Dependent On Nature

By David Okul

Humans have become obsessed with technological ingenuity to enhance their future survival, but ignoring their dependence on nature would be foolish. While the future of humanity is focused on artificial technology and solutions, the role of the natural world in human existence is underestimated. Nature offers so many benefits to humans. Today, close to 8 billion people across the globe are directly or indirectly dependent on nature. Humans depend on nature for many things, including the source of basic needs, economic growth, and health.

Dependence on Nature for Basic Human Needs

 Nature is the number one source for all basic human needs like clean water, food, air, shelter, and clothing. These basic needs are essential for human survivors. They are sourced from nature directly or indirectly.

Air: Humans depend on nature for clean air to support their existence. Nature produces air by interacting with land, plants, and the atmosphere. For example, trees absorb Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to produce oxygen. Other natural resources like soil, wetlands, and plants help clean the air, giving humans access to fresh air.

The ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen through oceanic plankton. However, marine life consumes most of the oxygen produced in the oceans.

Food: Humans are heavily dependent on food. Nature provides humans with a balanced diet containing carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals essential for healthy living. The natural sources of food include plants and animals. Humans source their food from fruits, roots, stems, seeds, leaves, and flowers of plants. The plants also produce other food-related products like oil from seeds, sugar from sugarcane stems, and species from dried leaves and roots. Humans also depend on animals as a food source, directly or indirectly. Animals are rich sources of proteins. Animals produce milk, meat, and eggs.

Water: The three natural sources of water are underground water, rain, and surface water. Humans access underground water by drilling boreholes. Rainwater falls in the form of snow or precipitation. Humans can collect rainwater by building dams or using containers. Surface water involves water sources above the surface and is easily accessible to humans. Examples of surface water sources include wetlands, lakes, rivers, oceans, and seas. Humans rely on nature as the direct drinking water source and irrigating crops. The body needs clean drinking water to function correctly and promote good health. Humans also use water to irrigate lands and grow crops, thus promoting food security.

Food comes from nature

Dependence on Nature for Economic growth

Natural resources play a primary role in promoting economic activities and sustainability; nature directly contributes to human economic activities by providing humans with raw materials for producing goods and services.

Energy Generation

Humans are reliant on nature for energy generation. Energy is the main economic driver for human activities. Humans require energy in their homes, factories, and cities to promote producing goods and services for financial gain. Nature provides humans with energy from different sources. The primary energy source has been fossil fuels, including coal, oil, and natural gas, contributing to up to 80% of the global energy needs. Nature also provides humans with renewable energy like solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal. Renewable energy has enabled humans to produce green energy, which helps promote environmental and economic sustainability for human growth.

Raw Materials

Also, humans depend on nature for raw materials to produce goods. Nature is a rich source of raw materials essential for making goods. The raw materials are sourced from plants, animals, and underground minerals. Plants are the primary source of raw materials for producing goods such as medicine, paper, furniture, clothes, art, etc. Humans also use animal byproducts like skins to make leather products like shoes, handbags, and clothes. They also excavate to access underground minerals like gold, copper, oil, ore, zinc, silver, nickel, tin, and iron, to mention but a few, for energy production, metals, and gems, which promote economic development.

Nature-based Tourism

            Nature is rich in biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural features, attracting tourists worldwide. Humans use these natural attraction sites to promote nature-based tourism to diversify their economic growth. Tourism contributes to economic growth in various ways, such as creating employment, increasing income, and infrastructure development. Nature-based tourism includes bird watching, hiking, fishing, visiting parks, photography, camping, and hunting.

Dependence on Nature for Good Health

Nature Promotes Good Mental Health

            Nature has a significant impact on promoting the well-being of humans, making them reliant on nature for good health. Research has shown that human interaction with nature reduces stress. Stress lowers the quality of one’s health by leading to unhappiness, anxiety,  and high blood pressure. Exposure to nature (e.g., walking in natural areas) promotes happiness and emotional well-being.

Nature Treats Illnesses

Nature is a major source of medicine and therapy. Humans rely on nature to extract raw materials from plants and animals to produce generic medications for treating cardiovascular diseases. Also, interacting with nature helps relieve pain and promote comfort to patients. The research found that interacting with natural environments has a soothing effect, which helps to reduce psychological and chronic pain. Humans depend on nature to relieve pain instead of using medications, as there are no side effects.

Concluding Remarks

Humans depend on nature for survival, economic growth, and good health. This dependence shows how nature is essential for human sustainability and existence in the future. An attack on nature is an attack on human survival in the future. While humans view technology as their future, they should remember nature as they depend so much on it. Humans should focus on protecting nature to ensure that it continues to provide essential needs for its survival and growth. The connection between human beings and nature is undeniable.                                           

All goods we use will either need natural resources (e.g foods that require minerals from soil) or will embody natural resources (e.g. a car will contain iron ore).  The problem is that with economic development and population growth, more and more natural resources are being extracted. This unsustainable resource use is the cause of some of the major environmental problems of today.

Read more about natural resources in this book

David Okul is an environmental management professional with over 12 years experience on donor projects, conservation, forestry, ecotourism, and community-based natural resources management. When not working on  environmental projects, I spend my time writing for Silvica on a variety of topics. The view in this blog are personal and do not represent the organizations that he is associated with.