This paper—really an essay, or a philosophical rumination—has three main objectives: it is, first, a kind of polemic against the tendency to dichotomize human culture and behavior from the physical environment which sustains them. Secondly, it attempts to describe, by means of three case studies, the complex ways modern humans use and degrade the environment, and to suggest the kind of research activities which anthropologists—and other social scientists—must engage in to make a contribution to the unravelling of these complex processes. Third, it speaks for the need for a normative perspective—a viewpoint which takes reasoned, biased positions on the problem of resource use and abuse and proceeds toward scholarly attempts to examine them empirically.