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The Theory of Environmental Determinism: Meaning and Examples

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Samples of important wide-ranging studies that explore the wider intellectual history of environmental determinism and its critics in evolutionary theory, anthropology, archaeology, geography, and environmental history is given here. Preston and Martin , Livingstone , and Peet are key examinations of the history of the discipline of geography, where environmental determinism had its modern intellectual origins.

Gould and Eldredge present important reviews of the debates in geology regarding the critique of Darwinian theory and the emergence of modern understandings of earth-systems history. Harris and Trigger situate environmental determinism in the development of anthropology and archaeology. Arnold and Isenberg do the same for environmental history. These works are cited here rather than repeating citations throughout this article.

The problem of nature: Environment, culture and European expansion. Arnold explores the tension between cultural-idealist and ecological-materialist approaches to the history of humanity and nature. Adaptation and the origin of species from the nineteenth century through punctuated equilibria and beyond.

The structure of evolutionary theory. The rise of anthropological theory: A history of theories of culture. Geographers reacted to this by first developing the softer notion of "environmental possibilism ," and later by abandoning the search for theory and causal explanation for many decades.

Later critics charged that determinism served to justify racism and imperialism. The experience of environmental determinism has left a scar on geography, with many geographers reacting negatively to any suggestion of environmental influences on human society. Some believe this rejection has gone too far, and that incorporating environmental factors into explanations of social outcomes is not only useful but necessary.

While this accurately reflects the popular belief and perception in the geographic community towards environmental determinism, the debate was overlaid with hues of gray. Rostlund pointed out in his essay in Readings in Cultural Geography: Sauer followed on from this in when he criticized the premature generalizations resulting from the bias of environmentalism. He pointed out that to define geography as the study of environmental influences is to assume in advance that such influences do operate, and that a science cannot be based upon or committed to a preconception.

A variant of environmental determinism was popular among Marxists , employing the dialectical materialism concept of history. To Marx 's basic model of the ideological and cultural superstructure being determined by the economic base, they added the idea that the economic base is determined by environmental conditions.

For example, Russian geographer Georgi Plekhanov argued that the reason his nation was still in the feudal era, rather than having progressed to capitalism and becoming ripe for the revolution into communism , was that the wide plains of Russia allowed class conflicts to be easily diffused. This Marxist environmental determinism was repudiated around the same time as classic environmental determinism. Climatic determinism is an aspect of economic geography , also sometimes called the equatorial paradox.

In other words, the further from the equator the more developed a country tends to be. The paradox applies equally well both north and south of the equator. Australia, for example, has a higher level of economic development than Indonesia.

The paradox also applies within countries — the northern U. Singapore is a notable counter-example: This prosperity is based on its position as a port.

Although Singapore's strict and no-nonsense government system matches the "strict and authoritarian" system that Montesquieu cited as being necessary for a country in warmer areas to succeed by counteracting the environmental complacency of the tropics with human-induced strictures. Other exceptions to the paradox tend to have large natural resources. Saudi Arabia is a good example. One popular theory to explain this phenomenon is that development is less necessary in tropical regions - "you can lie in a hammock and pick bananas," [ citation needed ] as opposed to the need to invent agriculture and economy in order to prosper and survive.

This explanation, while convenient, may not be sufficiently complex to truly explain the equatorial paradox. It is noteworthy that the equatorial paradox only emerged from the Modern Era onwards, with more highly developed cultures and economies being present in the tropical and subtropical regions than outside it.

The Energy of Slaves. According to Covey, there are three main social paradigms: The habit of being proactive. From the perspective of the environmental determinism theory, we can argue that organizational change is the function of environmental factors. Do lean implementation initiatives have adequate accounting support? The debate of duality.

Although Kaplan attempts to steer clear of geographical or environmental determinism , he concludes that geography just may triumph over globalism.


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Environmental determinism (also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism) is the study of how the physical environment predisposes societies and states towards particular development trajectories.

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Environmental determinism is the belief that the environment (most notably its physical factors such as landforms and/or climate) determines the patterns of human culture and societal development.

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Aug 29,  · Environmental factors can affect health in many ways. First onemust recognize that what constitutes there environment is theresurroundings. I will just list a few examples and situations. BeachSwimming Water;Dumping of car chemicals on the ground, or intostormwater drain. Using fertilizers that contribute to overgrowthof algae. Environmental determinism argues that both general features and regional variations of human cultures and societies are determined by the physical and biological forms that make up the earth’s many natural landscapes.

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From the perspective of the environmental determinism theory, we can argue that organizational change is the function of environmental factors. Environmental determinism is a theory put forth in the 19th century, that proposes that the geographical and physical attributes of an environment shape the development of the indigenous human societies.