Environment literally means Surrounding in which we are living. Environment includes all those things on which we are directly or indirectly dependent for our survival, whether it is living component like animals, plants or nonliving component like soil, air water.
Environmental Protection Act (1986) defined “Environment as the sum total of water, air and land, their interrelationship among themselves and with the human beings, other living beings and property.”
Meaning Of Environmental Studies:
Environmental studies are the scientific study of the environmental system and the status of its inherent or induced changes on organisms. It includes not only the study of physical and biological characters of the environment but also the social and cultural factors and the impact of man on environment.
Objectives and Guiding Principles of Environmental Studies:
According to UNESCO (1971), the objectives of environmental studies are:
(a) Creating the awareness about environmental problems among people.
(b) Imparting basic knowledge about the environment and its allied problems.
(c) Developing an attitude of concern for the environment.
(d) Motivating public to participate in environment protection and environment improvement.
(e) Acquiring skills to help the concerned individuals in identifying and solving environmental problems.
(f) Striving to attain harmony with Nature.
According to UNESCO, the guiding principles of environmental education should be as follows:
(a) Environmental education should be compulsory, right from the primary up to the post graduate stage.
(b) Environmental education should have an interdisciplinary approach by including physical, chemical, biological as well as socio-cultural aspects of the environment. It should build a bridge between biology and technology.
(c) Environmental education should take into account the historical perspective, the current and the potential historical issues.
(d) Environmental education should emphasise the importance of sustainable development i.e., economic development without degrading the environment.
(e) Environmental education should emphasise the necessity of seeking international cooperation in environmental planning.
(f) Environmental education should lay more stress on practical activities and first hand experiences.
Scope and Importance of Environmental Studies:
The disciplines included in environmental education are environmental sciences, environmental engineering and environmental management.
(a) Environmental Science:
It deals with the scientific study of environmental system (air, water, soil and land), the inherent or induced changes on organisms and the environmental damages incurred as a result of human interaction with the environment.
(b) Environmental Engineering:
It deals with the study of technical processes involved in the protection of environment from the potentially deleterious effects of human activity and improving the environmental quality for the health and well beings of humans.
(c) Environmental Management:
It promotes due regard for physical, social and economic environment of the enterprise or projects. It encourages planned investment at the start of the production chain rather than forced investment in cleaning up at the end.
It generally covers the areas as environment and enterprise objectives, scope, and structure of the environment, interaction of nature, society and the enterprise, environment impact assessment, economics of pollution, prevention, environmental management standards etc.
The importance’s of environmental studies are as follows:
- To clarify modern environmental concept like how to conserve biodiversity.
- To know the more sustainable way of living.
- To use natural resources more efficiently.
- To know the behaviour of organism under natural conditions.
- To know the interrelationship between organisms in populations and communities.
- To aware and educate people regarding environmental issues and problems at local, national and international levels.
Need of Public Awareness about Environment:
In today’s world because of industrialization and increasing population, the natural resources has been rapidly utilised and our environment is being increasingly degraded by human activities, so we need to protect the environment.
It is not only the duty of government but also the people to take active role for protecting the environment, so protecting our environment is economically more viable than cleaning it up once, it is damaged.
The role of mass media such as newspapers, radio, television, etc is also very important to make people aware regarding environment. There are various institutions, which are playing positive role towards environment to make people aware regarding environment like BSI (Botanical Survey of India, 1890), ZSI (Zoological Survey of India, 1916), WII (Wild Life Institute of India, 1982) etc.
Ecology and Scope of Ecological Studies:
Ecology is that part of environmental studies in which we study about organisms, plants and animals and their relationship or interdependence on other living and non living environment.
The term ‘Ecology’ is derived from Greek word ‘Oekologue’ which is composed of two words:
(a) ‘Oekos’ means surrounding
(b) ‘Logs’ means study on a whole ecology means ‘Study of surrounding’
The scope of ecological study includes:
- It deals with the study of flow of energy and materials in the environment.
- It deals with the study of nature and its function.
- It deals with the exchange of various materials between the biotic and abiotic components of environment. E.g., Biogeochemical cycles.