E. Back to the Beginning

As an ending to this Prelude to Human Ecosystems we should return to Rappaport's (1971, 1984) model of ritual regulation and ecosystem function among the Maring (Figure 1e). The boldness of his accomplishment was in combining native and academic views of major human ecosystem components in a cybernetic model. Whether the system is (was) cybernetic is open to question. We are some distance from understanding the manner and degree to which human ecosystems are self-regulating.

In this essay we have laid out a prelude to a theory of human ecosystems that is still at the intuitive stage of development (Figure 9). We have emphasized comparatively simple conceptual themes, particularly the importance of including information, belief systems, worldviews and pursuit of the supernatural in our understandings of human ecosystems. Rappaport's model not only includes the supernatural, but also the cycle of warfare and peace, linked to the economic system. We propose that a similar systems approach is necessary to understand not only `traditional' small-scale societies, but the global postmodern world as well. It is up to future generations to break the taboos that prevent the development of such understanding.

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