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I chart ways in which ecology could improve its performance in assessing the humanity‐nature relationship. The life of humans, similar lo all biological organisms, depends on utilization of their environment which is changed as a result. To evaluate the consequences, a broad range of issues needs to be addressed ranging from the historical dynamics of cultural development to specific idiosynchratic features of particular environmental issues. One should avoid nature‐culture dualism both in theoretical thinking and practical research. A typical form of such dualism in ecologically informed environmentalism is an assumption that productivity of socio‐economic systems vs natural systems is a zero‐sum game: this assumption is unfounded. Ecology should take the ecological conditions of human existence seriously and make judgements on the relationship of people with their natural environment in various historical situations in a contextually sensitive way. I end by listing several types of positive contribution that ecology could give to societal discussion on the human environmental predicament; the most Important challenge is to point out new possibilities even in situations which seem hopeless.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: ), Dept of Regional Studies and Environmental Policy, Univ. Tampere, P.O. Box 607. FIN-33101 Tampere, Finland.

Publication date: August 1, 1999

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