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Meaning and Importance of Environment

Environment can be defined as a sum total of all the living and non-living elements and their effects that influence human life.

The sum total of all the living and non-living elements and their effects that influence human life defines the environment. While all living or biotic elements are animals, plants, forests, fisheries, and birds, non-living or abiotic elements include water, land, sunlight, rocks, and air. Our environment is called the physical and biological world where we live, which includes all the biological and non-biological entities surrounding us.

(1) Provides the supply of resources
  •       The environment offers resources for production.
  •       It includes both renewable and non-renewable resources.
  •       Examples: Wood for furniture, soil, land, etc.
(2) Sustains life
  •       The environment includes the sun, soil, water, and air, which are essential for human life.
  •       It sustains life by providing genetic and biodiversity.
(3) Assimilates waste
  •       Production and consumption activities generate waste.
  •       This occurs mostly in the form of garbage.
  •       The environment helps in getting rid of the garbage.
(4) Enhances the quality of life
  •       The environment enhances the quality of life.
  •       Human beings enjoy the beauty of nature that includes rivers, mountains, deserts, etc.
  •       These add to the quality of life.

Scope Of Environmental Science

Environmental science is sometimes also called environmental engineering. It is one of the most prominent fields of study that students opt for these days. The basic definition of environmental science consists of fields such as ecology, biology, chemistry, geology, and much more. It is an interdisciplinary field and that is because it consists of different aspects of social science as well as humanities too. 

The environment consists of four segments as under:
  1. Atmosphere: The atmosphere implies the protective blanket of gases, surrounding the earth:
    (a) It sustains life on the earth.
    (b) It saves it from the hostile environment of outer space.
    (c) It absorbs most of the cosmic rays from outer space and a major portion of the electromagnetic radiation from the sun.
    (d) It transmits only here ultraviolet, visible, near infrared radiation (300 to 2500
    nm) and radio waves. (0.14 to 40 m) while filtering out tissue-damaging ultraviolate waves below about 300 nm.
    The atmosphere is composed of nitrogen and oxygen. Besides, argon, carbon dioxide, and trace gases.
  2. Hydrosphere: The Hydrosphere comprises all types of water resources oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, streams, reserviour, polar icecaps, glaciers, and ground water.
    (i) Nature 97% of the earth’s water supply is in the oceans,
    (ii) About 2% of the water resources is locked in the polar icecaps and glaciers.
    (iii) Only about 1% of fresh surface water, including rivers, lakes, streams, and groundwater, is fit for human consumption and other uses.
  3. Lithosphere: Lithosphere is the outer mantle of the solid earth. It consists of minerals occurring in the earth’s crusts and the soil e.g. minerals, organic matter, air and water.
  4. Biosphere: Biosphere indicates the realm of living organisms and their interactions with environment, viz atmosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere.

Importance Of Environmental Science

  • Environment belongs to all living beings and thus is important for all. Each one is affected by environmental issues like global warming, depletion of ozone layer, dwindling forest, energy resources, loss of global biodiversity etc.
  • Environment study deals with the analysis of the processes in water, air, land, soil and organisms which lead to pollute or degrade the environment. It helps us to establish a standard for a safe, clean and healthy natural ecosystem.
  • It also deals with important issues like safe and clean drinking water, hygienic living conditions and clean and fresh air, fertility of land, healthy food and development.
  • Sustainable environmental law, environmental protection, management and environmental engineering are emerging as dimensions in environment protection and management.

Components of Environment

Everything in our immediate surrounds, including both living and nonliving things like soil, water, creatures, and plants that adapt to their conditions, is referred to as the “environment.” It is a gift from nature that helps to sustain life on Earth. The survival of life on Earth depends on the environment. A biosphere component that affects the condition of the entire planet is an ecosystem. It includes both live and inanimate objects in the environment. The elements that make up the environment can be broadly separated into two groups:

  • Biotic Components
  • Abiotic Components

Biotic Component

The biotic component of the environment, as the name indicates, includes all living things. Hence, it is also called as the biotic component of the ecosystem. Animals, plants and microorganisms interact with the abiotic components, and these form various ecosystems. Moreover, organisms in these ecosystems are classified into groups – such as producers, consumers and decomposers. They also occupy various trophic levels on the food chain. For instance, all autotrophs are producers and occupy the lowest levels on a food chain.

Physical Component

The physical component refers to the non-living part of the environment. These are also called abiotic factors and include air, water, soil, climate etc. Physical components can be broadly classified into 3 groups – Atmosphere, Hydrosphere and Lithosphere. Additionally, scientists also use the term “biosphere” to describe the zone of life (or the worldwide sum of ecosystems).

Abiotic Components

Abiotic factors are defined as chemical or physical elements that have an impact on living things as a result of their existence or way of life. They go by the name “ecological factors” as well. The environment, light, air, soil, nutrients, and other physical and chemical factors make up the abiotic component of an ecosystem. Abiotic ecosystem elements generally vary from one ecosystem to the next. Abiotic components like salinity, e-water death, readily available nutrients, and dissolved oxygen are present in the aquatic ecosystem. Type of soil, rain, wind, temperature, altitude, sunlight, and nutrients are all significant factors in terrestrial ecosystems. The two main categories are climate and edaphic influences.

Edaphic Factors: The minerals, soil profile, soil organic matter, soil moisture, and different types of soil are all edaphic components connected to the composition and structure of the soil.
Climatic Factors: Climate elements are the physical and climatic aspects of the environment, including air temperature, wind, humidity, and water.

Frequently Asked Questions about Meaning of Environment

Q1: What is the definition of environment?

Environment can be defined as the sum total of all living and non-living elements and their effects that influence human life. It includes both biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components.

Q2: What are the functions of the environment?

The environment has several functions, including providing resources for production, sustaining life by providing essential elements like sun, soil, water, and air, assimilating waste generated by human activities, and enhancing the quality of life by offering natural beauty and biodiversity.

Q3: What is the scope of environmental science?

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses various aspects of social sciences, humanities, ecology, biology, chemistry, and geology. It involves the study of the environment, its components, processes, and the impact of human activities on the natural world.

Q4: What are the components of the environment?

The environment consists of both biotic and abiotic components. The biotic components include all living organisms such as animals, plants, and microorganisms. The abiotic components refer to the non-living elements like air, water, soil, climate, and other physical and chemical factors.

Q5: What are abiotic components of the environment?

Abiotic components are the non-living elements of the environment that have an impact on living organisms. They include factors such as air, water, soil, sunlight, temperature, humidity, and nutrients. These abiotic factors vary across different ecosystems.

Read also:- Ecosystem

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