THE HUMAN DIMENSION: WHAT ARE THE FACTS?
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THE HUMAN DIMENSION: WHAT ARE THE FACTS? book
INTRODUCTION The preceding chapters have been concerned primarily with the physical components of the Theory of Himalayan Environmental Degradation. While the discussion has repeatedly expanded to questions of human intervention (it must be admitted, for instance, that deforestation is essentially a human process), we have concentrated on the physical facts and pseudo-facts of progressive reduction in forest cover and the assumed and real consequences of that reduction in terms of landscape degradation and far-distant downstream effects. At issue has been the relationship between natural, or geophysical, processes and human intervention (accelerated erosion, sediment transfer, and downstream flooding). We have concluded that human intervention has the potential for significant landscape changes at the scale of the micro-watershed or individual mountain slope. Yet even here we point out that periodic catastrophic rainstorms, for example, will tend to over-ride the effects of human activity. At the macro-scale, however, natural processes will reduce the role of human interventions to insignificant proportions, although this is not to claim that they are unimportant in specific locations.