The overarching purpose of this project is to foster the restoration and maintenance of human habitat, for the preservation and prosperity of mankind. This may seem an overly anthropocentric mission statement. However, you may find that what I've advocated as good for our species inevitably incorporates the welfare others. Such is the nature of wildlife preservation.
Appropriately, I think, much of the information presented here is regionally specific. This work addresses habitat concerns which relate, primarily, to the Inland Northwestern United States and surrounding regions. However, the central themes outlined here could be broadly applied to temperate climates all over the world.
The subject of human habitat is intimidating in its scope. All creatures are complicated, especially in the context of their environment. When everything in nature is connected, where do we start? My own explorations of the subject were motivated by a short list of questions:
-Where and when did our species originate?
-What adaptations do we possess? And what other creatures are we most like?
-What are our physical needs? And what kind of physical environment best provides for those needs?
-What is our natural diet? What kinds of plants and animals is it comprised of?
-What kind of activities best suite our physical health?
-What kind of sensory environment best suites our mental and emotional health?
-What sort of social situation are we best adjusted to?
In short, I wanted to know the nature of what evolutionary psychologists call the EEA, or the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness. The EEA is the environment that a species has evolved to thrive in. Outside of it's EEA, a creature cannot be expected to do or feel very well. If you aren't doing or feeling very well, there is a lot to be said for attitude adjustment, however, you should not rule out an environmental deviation from the EEA.
An evolutionary psychologist would tell you, in a matter-of-fact tone, that the human EEA is the Pleistocene Epoch, more commonly know as the Ice Age. This may seem a bit off base, since not many modern people can imagine themselves feeling very fulfilled living in a cave and hunting mastodon. Although you might feel a little more nostalgic about pre-history after touring this website, it is not my argument that people belong only in the Stone Age. It would be pretentious to think of our EEA as that rigid. After all, our lineage has survived for millions of years and spread to almost every part of the planet. We're exceptionally adaptable buggers, that's for sure.
But don't be too quick to deny the appeal of the past. You don't have to be the Unibomber to recognize that aspects of our modern environment are horribly askew (if everything seems just hunky dorey to you, may I recomend television). When lost, it is always a good idea to backtrack, and get some solid bearings before making the next move. There is more to our deep past than is widely recognized. The EEA is a very complex, multifaceted thing and we should take a good hard look at it before we plod forward.
Other writers have explored the and defined the EEA with far greater expertise than I posses. (see the links and recommended reading sections) The content of this website builds on that knowledge, exploring two further questions:
-How does our present environment differ from the one we are adapted to?
-And and how can we can we turn our present environment one that better suites us?
Humans are technological creatures. Technologies like fire and stone tools predate Homo sapiens, the latter dating back about 2.5 million years. Technology will always have a role to play in our habitat. However, the most crucial aspects of our habitat always have been other living things. As advanced as we've become, we still rely directly on plants and animals for all of our food. We still live in houses made of wood, and drive cars fueled by fossil swamp life. Plants create the oxygen we breath. Symbiotic bacteria help us digest our food. Interestingly enough, the popular imagination frequently projects a future largely divorced of our biotic ties. According to this thinking, humans will inevitably colonize space, live in domes, drive flying cars, eat food cultured in petri-dishes, and breath air recycled by machines. It will all be run by computers.By this way of thinking, it doesn't matter if we fry our planet. Technology will save us. As for me, I wouldn't count on it.
Science still hasn't managed to save us from the common cold. Computers crash and will probably always crash. At best, technology has simply enhanced our ability to pursue our messy biotic impulses. And try flying to space when gasoline goes over $20 a gallon. Technology enriches life, but it has a long long way to go before it can support or even understand life.
Photosynthesis, DNA, cell division, strawberries- these are the things that we can depend on, for as long as we allow them to exist. Understanding that other life forms are the single most important part of our habitat is crucial to our future survival.
The relieving thing about trusting other life forms for our needs is that we don’t have to know how it all works, and we don’t have to be in charge. As a million parts working in symphony, the living world does an amazing job of creating a stable place to exist, often in spite of human misunderstanding. A gardener doesn’t realy have to know how a carrot plant synthesizes the hundreds of chemical compounds it needs to survive and reproduce. The gardner just needs to know some basic things about nature (like how plants need water and sunshine) to be fed by the carrot. It’s a fairly foolproof arrangement. What’s more, because the carrot/gardener relationship is a mutually beneficial one, we know by the principles of ecology that this relationship it likely to be re-enforced by evolution.
Human survival is based on such relationships. Unlike the way we use technology, our interactions with other living things must be partnerships. There must be give and take, reciprocation, and balance. Without an understanding of these crucial partnerships, efforts to rehabilitate our environment will fall short.
Much of this website is dedicated to exploring the nature of our relationships with other living things, and how we can use these relationships to improve our habitat.
Disturbance Ecology examines how plants and animals form partnerships to succeed in the living community, and how people can sustainably utilize such partnerships.
The Domestication Spectrum explores how partnering organisms shape one another, and seeks to define the optimal partnership, as this relates to human habitat.
Perennial Paradise examines the many possible vegetation cover types, and how vegetation type sets the stage for life and it's interactions. Also examined, is the possibility of an optimum vegetation type for human habitat.
Eat Your Competition focuses on the human relationship with prey animals, and how vegetation type influences the composition of prey animals in our habitat.
Unlivable Landscapes addresses our present situation as the result of our relationship with the natural world.
Just Add Water discusses human relationship with water. Water availability is of tremendous importance in the living community. It can be a limiting factor.
Future articles will discuss the ways humans influence other limiting factors other than water. Other topics will be covered as well, such as people and biodiversity, environment and culture, human nutrition, resource conservation, environmental psychology, bioregional history, ext.
No computer database could ever hope to transcribe all the intricacies of nature. However, I feel it is not hopeless to try to understand the basic principles at work. If we can understand those principles, we can shape our future for the better.
We can get back home.