Human-Environment Interaction: Definition & Examples (2022)

By Rita Maycategories:

Human-environment interaction refers to how humans relate to the rest of their ecosystem. We’ll show you the different types and some examples.

What Is Human-Environment Interaction? A Definition

The term ‘human-environment interaction’ describes the ways in which humans influence and are in turn influenced by their surrounding ecosystems. Humans can, for example, influence their environment by clearing trees from a forest to make farmland. In contrast, the environment may influence the behavior of the people living in it — for example, by pushing them to invent warm clothing during colder seasons.

Why Is Understanding Human-Environment Interactions Important?

Understanding the dynamics within human-environment interactions is an integral aspect of developing sustainable solutions to environmental issues. Human behavior has historically altered local ecosystems to a tremendous extent. For example, according to a 2005 paper, human fire usage caused a major wave of extinction and ecological change during the Pleistocene Era. Identifying how our current actions could have similar impacts can help us change for the better.

On the flip side, understanding the effects of the Earth’s changing climate can inform how we choose to adapt to our new world. For example, according to the World Meteorological Organization, there are now five times as much extreme weather, climate, and water events as there were 50 years ago. Nonetheless, deaths have decreased thanks to improvements in early alert programs, which were developed in response to human needs. As you can see, understanding how our changing planet may affect us can help us plan for our futures as well.

(Video) Human Environment Interaction

3 Types of Human-Environment Interaction

Human-Environment Interaction: Definition & Examples (1)

There are three major types of human-environment interaction. These are:

  1. Dependence on the Environment: We humans are dependent on the world around us for basic needs such as food, water, and shelter. In modern society, our dependence may also extend to other resources as well. For example, many of us rely on money or fossil fuels that often supply energy to our homes. For better or for worse, these dependencies shape how humans behave, such as what kinds of resources they may seek and/or maintain within their environment.
  2. Modifying the Environment: Humans can modify the world around them in order to suit their needs. For example, we might build a shelter to shield ourselves from weather or clear a plot of land for farming. These modifications range from having minimal effects on the rest of the ecosystem to being completely disruptive. For example, vertical farming, an innovative agricultural technique, may offer a more ecologically friendly alternative to large-scale industrial farming. These conventional techniques are not only bad for the environment but can also promote animal and human diseases, according to the United Nations. Learning which modifications are environmentally harmful will help us create more sustainable alternatives.
  3. Adaptation to the Environment: Humans have adapted to live in a wide range of environments, from the freezing arctic circle to blazing regions along the equator. Adaptation to such environments can be both genetic and learned. For example, having darker skin is a genetic adaptation that might help an individual living in sunny environments; in contrast, a learned adaptation that could have the same effect is creating garments that shield your skin from the sun. Developing new ways to adapt to a changing world will be a vital part of creating a sustainable future.

Human-Environment Interaction: Definition & Examples (2)

The following recent movies and documentaries about sustainability demonstrate why being an environmentalist is crucial to the health of our…

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(Video) #001 Human Environment Interaction

Of course, there is a significant amount of overlap between all three kinds of human-environment interaction. Our dependence on the environment affects the way we choose to modify it, and the way we modify the environment can be one of the ways we adapt to it.

While these categories may not be set in stone, thinking of these different kinds of human-environment interactions can be a helpful way of analyzing our own relationships with the environment. In the section below, you can read examples of human-environment interactions that have led to solutions for environmental issues.

Example of Human-Environment Interactions

Human-Environment Interaction: Definition & Examples (3)

Climate change is a complex issue with no one-size-fits-all solution. But understanding the effects of human-environment interactions can often be the first step toward developing more sustainable ways of living. Analyses at a local level can help identify behaviors that we need to alter for more sustainable living, according to a 2016 paper.

An example of this can be found inanother study:

(Video) Theme of Geography - Human Environment Interaction in Geography - Definition, Examples & Solutions

  • Once scientists had observed the catastrophic effects of overfishing, different organizations began to take action in order to minimize or prevent future damage. Scientists were able to find a solution by analyzing a particular instance of human-environment interaction: humans are dependent on marine resources, so by overfishing, they modified their environment in a negative way.
  • Once scientists had analyzed this issue and identified the interactive relationships between humans and the marine environment, the issue that needed to be solved became clear. This clarity enabled researchers to then focus on how to incentivize fisheries to stop overexploiting resources.

Crucially, analyses of human-environment interactions take into account the various factors that the people involved are dependent on. Rather than merely focusing on the direct effect of behavior on the environment, such analyses consider which dependencies drive these behaviors.

  • For example, in the case of overfishing, the analysis considered not only a direct reliance on seafood within some communities but also commercialized fishing as a livelihood for countless individuals across the globe.
  • Acknowledging these complex needs allowed scientists to identify the importance of economic and social incentives in order to reduce the amount of fishing. This allowed them to propose solutions that are not only environmentally responsible but could also protect the livelihoods of those currently employed in fishing industries.

Below, we’ll take a look at seven other examples of human-environment interactions that have benefitted or could benefit from a similar analysis.

7 More Examples of Human-Environment Interaction and Areas for Future Development

Human-Environment Interaction: Definition & Examples (4)
  1. Tourism on the Galapagos Islands: Many environmentalists have raised concerns over how increasing tourism has damaged the unique ecosystem in the Galapagos. But many local residents have been hesitant to support restrictions because they rely economically on the industry. Finding an environmental solution that also allows residents to continue earning a living will be important for solving this environmental issue.
  2. Whaling in Japan: Japan’s whaling industry only employs a few hundred individuals today and barely contributes to the nation’s economy. But still, deep cultural ties have caused inertia against an anti-whaling stance, according to research from California State University. Acknowledging these cultural roots can allow researchers to develop better arguments for passing legislation for the conservation of marine life.
  3. Oil, Gas, and Mining Industries: Extensive planning and risk assessment can prevent some of the most environmentally damaging industries from causing serious harm to surrounding ecosystems, including human communities. For example, scientists suggest that planning oil pipeline routes to avoid settlements and preserve nearby wildlife can minimize the negative effects of this industry.
  4. Balancing Land for Agricultural Use and Preservation: Governments often pass legislation to protect natural landscapes when they reach a critical point. But these protections will often be removed once an ecosystem has sufficiently recovered. This leads communities to overexploit resources to a breaking point, then briefly protect them, before overexploiting once more. Some scientists have proposed models of human-environment interactions as a solution to discover and implement an equilibrium between human agricultural needs and protecting natural ecosystems.
  5. Animal Consumption and Disease Regulation: The inhumane conditions in which livestock are kept and slaughtered are a concern of their own. But another issue with animal agriculture is its potential for creating outbreaks of new diseases. Research analyzing human-animal interactions is therefore of vital importance to public health.
  6. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The increase in the human contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere has been linked to sudden climate change over the past 50 years. Recognizing these impacts on human behavior has sparked discussions about the importance of creating alternatives for industries that produce large amounts of greenhouse gases.
  7. Overhunting: People may hunt to obtain food, or to cull populations of predators such as wolves, which they consider a danger or nuisance to human communities. If done in excess, hunting can overthrow the delicate balance of an ecosystem, causing some species to overpopulate while others dwindle. An analysis of human-environment interactions can help us understand this balance and identify how much hunting is permissible, where necessary before we reach a point where humans cause major damage to local wildlife.

These examples of human-environment interactions offer scientists an important tool for generating feasible solutions to pressing environmental issues. Sustainability, after all, entails a lifestyle that is not only good for the environment but which we can realistically sustain over long periods of time. Understanding how we interact with and rely on the environment, therefore, is going to be very important for a brighter future.

Read more:

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Tags: Conservation Guide Natural Sustainability

(Video) 1.5 Human-Environmental Interaction (Unit 1 Topic 5 of AP Human Geography)


What is human environment interaction examples? ›

By using water, recycling or even riding a bus to school, you have an impact on the world around you. The relationship between human beings and the natural world is called human-environment interaction.

What is human environment very short answer? ›

Human environment is the interaction between human beings and the environment. It is the relationship of people with the natural and physical environment around them. Environment includes physical, biological, cultural, social, and economic factors of the area.

What is the meaning of human interaction? ›

When people interact with each other or interact, they communicate as they work or spend time together.

What are the examples of environment? ›

Environment can be defined as a sum total of all the living and non-living elements and their effects that influence human life. While all living or biotic elements are animals, plants, forests, fisheries, and birds, non-living or abiotic elements include water, land, sunlight, rocks, and air.

What is human environment called? ›

Brainly User. It is also called as integrated geography. The artificial world produced by people is referred to as the human environment. It includes social structures, modern towns, and the society in which humans live. It is also called as integrated geography as it is typically formed by humans.

What is a human environment class 7? ›

The human environment is all the external factors and conditions in which we live. That includes the natural and fabricated materials we use for shelter, our food and water, other organisms including other humans, and the weather.

What is the relationship of human and environment? ›

Humans need to interact with the environment to obtain our food, water, fuel, medicines, building materials and many other things. Advances in science and technology have helped us to exploit the environment for our benefit, but we have also introduced pollution and caused environmental damage.

What is the importance of human interaction? ›

Human interaction helps our bodies and brains understand what is going on around us as it puts events in context and helps us to solve problems. It's good when relationships challenge us, says Simon-Thomas.

What is the study of human interaction called? ›

Sociology is the study of human social relationships and institutions.

What is the best definition of environment? ›

Definition of environment

1 : the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded. 2a : the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (such as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.

What are the 3 types of environment? ›

The three types of environment are: Internal environment. External macro environment. External micro environment.

What are the main types of environment? ›

There are two different types of environment: Geographical Environment. Man-made Environment.

How does human environment interaction affect your life? ›

People modify the environment for their purposes and obtain benefits (Ecosystem Services) from it. These Ecosystem Services are essential for human well-being and include for example the provision of resources like water, timber, food, energy, information, land for farming and many more.

How does environment affect human? ›

The environment can facilitate or discourage interactions among people (and the subsequent benefits of social support). For example, an inviting space with comfortable chairs and privacy can encourage a family to stay and visit with a patient. The environment can influence peoples' behavior and motivation to act.

What are the components of human environment? ›

A natural component like land, air, and biosphere; Human-made component like roads, bridges, industries, etc And finally human component consists of individual, family, society, etc… It is also called as human environment and it reveals the activities, creations, and interactions among human beings.

What is the difference between natural and human environment? ›

The natural environment comprises land, water, air, plants and animals. (iii) The major components of environment are natural environment (consists of all objects created by nature), human environment (consists of human beings) and human-made environment (consists of objects created by human beings).

Why the environment is changing? ›

Environmental change occurs as a result of both natural and human processes. Environmental systems and human activities contribute to environmental changes through the transformation and transportation of large quantities of energy and materials.

What are two main components of nature? ›

Two main components exist in an ecosystem: abiotic and biotic. The abiotic components of any ecosystem are the properties of the environment; the biotic components are the life forms that occupy a given ecosystem.

What is an example of human nature? ›

Instinct. Humans have instincts and are able to override these with higher level thought processes. For example, a person may feel a strong urge to flee from danger but may override this to face the danger where it makes sense.

What are the types of human nature? ›

Human nature: Six things we all do
  • SKILLS. Human nature: Being playful. ...
  • KNOWLEDGE. Human nature: Being scientific. ...
  • BEHAVIOUR. Human nature: Being legislative. ...
  • FEEDING. Human nature: Being epicurean. ...
  • SEX. Human nature: Being clandestine. ...
  • COMMUNICATION. Human nature: Being gossipy.

What are 3 ways that humans interact with their environment? ›

Humans impact the physical environment in many ways: overpopulation, pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. Changes like these have triggered climate change, soil erosion, poor air quality, and undrinkable water.

What are the three types of human interaction with the environment? ›

What Are The 3 Types Of Human Environment Interaction?
  • Dependence On The Environment. Every single living thing on this planet is dependent on the environment it lives in. ...
  • Modification Of The Environment. ...
  • Adaptation To The Environment.
1 Oct 2020

What does human environment interaction mean in the 5 themes of geography? ›

Interaction between human beings and their environment is the fifth theme of geography. Human-environment interaction occurs because humans depend on, adapt to, and modify the world around them. Human society and the environment cannot be separated. Each shapes and is shaped by the other.

What are examples of human activities? ›

Human activities are the various actions for recreation, living, or necessity done by people. For instance it includes leisure, entertainment, manufacturing, recreation, war, and exercise.

What are the 3 main types of environment? ›

The three types of environment are: Internal environment. External macro environment. External micro environment.

Why do we need to interact in our environment? ›

Humans need to interact with the environment to obtain our food, water, fuel, medicines, building materials and many other things. Advances in science and technology have helped us to exploit the environment for our benefit, but we have also introduced pollution and caused environmental damage.

What are the basic concepts of human environment system? ›

The basic principles of the HES approach are: (1) human and environmental systems are constructed as complementary systems, (2) a hierarchy of human systems with related environmental systems are considered, (3) environmental systems are modeled in their immediate and delayed dynamic reactions to human action, (4) the ...

What is the impact of interaction between society and environment? ›

Societies adapt and transform the environments they inhabit. They depend upon the use of resources and reduction of hazards for their survival and material well-being. They also assign meanings to the environment that vary over place and time, but that help define their identity and values within the world.

Which is an example of a human impact on the atmosphere? ›

Burning fossil fuels, releasing chemicals into the atmosphere, reducing the amount of forest cover, and the rapid expansion of farming, development, and industrial activities are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and changing the balance of the climate system.

What is the study of human environment interaction? ›

Human-environment interaction (HEI) provides a framework that brings together scholarship sharing both disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary scope to examine past, present, and future social and environmental change in different parts of the world.

How does the environment affect humans? ›

Environmental pollutants can cause health problems like respiratory diseases, heart disease, and some types of cancer. People with low incomes are more likely to live in polluted areas and have unsafe drinking water. And children and pregnant women are at higher risk of health problems related to pollution.

What is the relationship between human and its environment? ›

To obtain food, water, fuel and many other things, humans interact with the environment. The numerous items we require in our homes, at work, and for leisure activities, are all provided by our environment.

What are 5 examples of geography? ›

The five themes of geography are location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region.

What are the 2 types of location? ›

Geographers can describe the location of a place in one of two ways: absolute and relative.

What question does the theme human environment interaction ask? ›

What question does the theme: Human Environment Interaction ask? How do humans negatively impact the earth? What is the relationship between humans and the environment? How are humans and their environment similar?


1. Human-Environment Interaction
(Amanda Pullmann)
2. Environmental Sustainability, Determinism, & Possibilism [AP Human Geography Unit 1 Topic 5] (1.5)
(Mr. Sinn)
3. Human Environmental Interactions
(Tessa Braun)
4. Human-Environment Interaction
(Michael Kauls)
5. World Geography Unit 1 Lesson 8 Human Environment Interaction
(Mrs. Martinez)
6. Human-Environment Interactions
(Nomad Classroom)

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