Energy and Human Ecology

Ecology is a holistic approach to studying how biological, hydrological, geochemical, and even social processes are shaped by interrelated relations between living beings and ecosystems. The term human ecology is probably most associated with the 1920s Chicago School of Urban Sociologists, who borrowed concepts from plant ecology (e.g., metabolism, competition, succession) to explain the growth and spatial patterns of American cities. In 1923, however, another University of Chicago scholar, Harlan Barrows, attempted to define the entire discipline of geography as “human ecology.” In contradistinction to the urban ecological school, Barrows did not want to simply use ecological metaphors to explain social patterns but sought to remake geography as a science of ecological relationships between human societies and the natural environment. For Barrows, geographers would examine ...

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