What is Environment and why do we now notice so much interest in Environmental Studies in recent years?
Environment is the sum total of all conditions and influences that affect the development and life of all organisms on earth. The living organisms vary from the lowest micro-organisms , such as bacteria, virus, fungus, etc. to the highest, including man. Each organism has its own environment (physical and biological).
The word “environment” originates from “environ” which means things that surround. As per definition of the Environment Protection Act, environment includes all the physical and biological surroundings and their interactions.
The study of environment or rather environmental studies is a multi-disciplinary subject , which needs knowledge interest from physical sciences (physics, chemistry, mathematics), biological sciences (botany, zoology, microbiology, biochemistry), social sciences, economics, sociology, education, geography) etc.
IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENT
Environment belongs to all and is important to all. Whatever be the occupation or age of a person, he will be affected by environment and also he will affect the environment by his deeds. That is why we find an internationally observed environment calendar to mark some important aspect or issue of environment.
Global Vs. Local Nature of Environment
Environment is one subject that is actually global as well as local in nature. Issues like global warming, depletion of ozone layer, dwindling forests and energy resources, loss of global biodiversity etc. which are going to affect the mankind as a whole are global in nature and for that we have to think and
However, there are some environmental problems which are of localized importance. For dealing with local environmental issues, e.g impact of mining or hydro-electric project in an area, problems of disposal and management of solid waste, river or lake pollution, soil erosion, water logging and salinization of soil, fluorosis problem in local population, arsenic pollution of groundwater etc., we have to think and act locally.
In order to make people aware about those aspects of environment with which they are so intimately associated, it is very important to make every one environmentally educated.
Individualistic Nature of Environment
Environmental studies is very important since it deals with the most mundane problems of life where each individual matters, like dealing with safe and clean drinking water, hygienic living conditions, clean and fresh air, fertile land, healthy food and sustainable development. If we want to live in a clean, healthy, aesthetically beautiful, safe and secure environment for a long time and wish to hand over a clean and safe earth to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, it is most essential to understand the basics of environment.
Environmental studies as a subject has a wide scope. It encompasses a large number of areas and aspects, which may be summarized as follows.
- Natural resources — their conservation and
- Ecology and biodiversity
- Environmental pollution and control
- Social issues in relation to development and
- Human population and environment
These are the basic aspects of environmental studies which have a direct relevance to every section of the society.
In the recent years, the scope of environmental studies has expanded dramatically the world over. Several career options have emerged in this field that are broadly categorized as:
(i) Research & Development (R & D) in environment:
Skilled environmental scientists have an important role to play in examining various environmental
problems in a scientific manner and carry out R& D activities for developing cleaner technologies and
promoting sustainable development.
There is a need for trained manpower at every level to deal with environmental issues. Environmental
management and environmental engineering are emerging as new career opportunities for environmental protection and management.
With the pollution control laws becoming more stringent, industries are finding it difficult to dispose off the wastes produced. In order to avoid expensive litigation, companies are now trying to adopt green technologies, which would reduce pollution.
Investing in pollution control technologies will reduce pollution as well as cut on costs for effluent treatment. Market for pollution control technology is increasing the world over. Cleaning up of the wastes produced is another potential market.
It is estimated to be more than $100 billion per year for all American business. Germany and Japan having more stringent laws for many years have gained more experience in reducing effluents. Still there is a $ 200 billion market for cleaning up the former East Germany alone.
In Pakistan also the Pollution Control Boards are seriously implementing pollution control laws and insisting on upgradation of effluents to meet the prescribed standards before they are discharged on land or into a water body. Many companies not complying with the orders have been closed or ordered to shift.
(ii) Green advocacy:
With increasing emphasis on implementing various Acts and laws related to environment, need for environmental lawyers has emerged, who should be able to plead the cases related to water and air pollution forest, wildlife etc.
(iii) Green marketing:
While ensuring the quality of products with ISO mark, now there is an increasing emphasis on marketing goods that are environment friendly. Such products have eco mark or ISO 14000 certification. Environmental auditors and environmental managers would be in great demand
in the coming years.
(iv) Green media:
Environmental awareness can be spread amongst masses through mass media like television,
radio, newspaper, magazines, hoardings, advertisements etc. for which environmentally educated persons are required.
(v) Environment consultancy:
Many non- government organizations (NGOs), industries and government bodies are engaging environmental consultants for systematically studying and tackling environment related problems.