Saturday, August 16, 2014

Multidisciplinary nature of Environmental Studies

Multidisciplinary nature of Environmental Studies
Environmental Studies is a multidisciplinary science because it comprises of various branches of studies such as chemistry, physics, medical science, life science, agriculture, public health, sanitary engineering, etc. It is the science of physical phenomena in the environment. It educates individuals from various walks of life about the delicate balance of nature and the recklessness with which we are damaging this environment thereby endangering our very existence. This has been illustrated in real life in the past and continues through the present age. Environment studies is a study of the sources, reactions, transport, effect and fate of human activities on biological species in air, water and soil. An understanding of the working of the environment require knowledge from wide ranging fields. The multidisciplinary nature of environment studies with respect to air pollution is shown in the table below:

Environmental issue / topic                                                 Major Subject

Nature and reaction of air pollutants                                          Chemistry and chemical engineering
Effects of air pollution on humans, animals and plants                  Zoology, Botany, and various branches of                                                                                                    life science, physics and chemistry
Effects of air pollutants on materials                                           Chemistry and chemical engineering
Effects of air pollution on climate                                                Mathematical modelling
Air pollution control devices                                                       Physics, Chemistry and various branches of                                                                                                  engineering
Economic effects of Air pollution                                                Economics, Demography
Conservation of resources and pollution control                          Various branches of physical and political                                                                                                     science
Alternative fuels                                                                          Various branches of physical science.

Environmental Studies - The need for public awareness

It is essential to make the public aware of the formidable consequences of the Environmental Degradation. If these are not addresses and reformative measures undertaken, the extinction of life is inevitable. We are facing various environmental challenges as discussed below:

  • Growing Population A population of over thousands of millions is growing. Over 17 million people are added each year. It puts considerable pressure on its natural resources and reduces the gains of development. Hence, the greatest challenge before us is to limit the population growth. Although population control does automatically lead to development, yet the development leads to a decrease in population growth rates. 
  • Poverty India has often been described a rich land with poor people. Poverty and environmental degradation have a nexus between them. The vast majority of our people are directly dependent on the natural resources of the country for their basic needs of food, fuel, shelter and fodder. 
  • Environment degradation has adversely affected the poor who depend upon the resources of their immediate surroundings. Thus, the challenge of poverty and the challenge of environment degradation are two facets of the same challenge. 
  • Population growth is essentially a function of poverty. Because, to the very poor, every child is an earner and helper and global concerns have little relevance for him.
  • Agricultural Growth People must be acquainted with the methods to sustain and increase agricultural growth without damaging the environment. High yielding varieties have cause soil salinity and damage to physical structure of soil.
  • Need for Ground water It is essential to rationalize the use of groundwater. Factors like community wastes, industrial effluents and chemical fertilizers and pesticides have polluted our surface water and affected quality of the groundwater. It is essential to restore the water quality of our rivers and other water bodies as lakes. Deciding on suitable technologies for restoring the quality of groundwater aquifers is essential.
  • Development And Forests Forests serve catchments for the rivers. The increasing demand of water, led to using rivers for irrigation projects. These caused forests to submerge and displacement of local people apart from damaging the local flora and fauna. 
  • Forests in India have been shrinking for several centuries owing to pressures of agriculture and other uses. Vast areas that were once green, stand today as wastelands. These areas are to be brought back under vegetative cover. The tribal communities inhabiting forests respects the trees and birds and animal that gives them sustenance. We must recognize the role of these people in restoring and conserving forests. 
  • The modern knowledge and skills of the forest department should be integrated with the traditional knowledge and experience of the local communities. The strategies for the joint management of forests should be evolved in a well planned way.
  • Degradation of land A small portion of land possesses potential for production. Agricultural land suffers from varying degrees of soil degradation. Land degradation mainly occurs due to overgrazing and soil erosion due to wind and water.
  • Reduction of Genetic Diversity Proper measures to conserve genetic diversity need to be taken. At present most wild genetic stocks have been disappearing from nature. Wild animals including the Asiatic Lion are facing problem of loss of genetic diversity. The protected areas network like sanctuaries, national parks, biosphere reserves are isolating populations. So, they are decreasing chances of one group breeding with another. Remedial steps are to be taken to check decreasing genetic diversity.
  • Evil Consequences of Urbanisation Nearly 27 per cent Indians live in urban areas. Urbanisation and industrialisation has given birth to a great number of environmental problem that need urgent attention. Over 30 percent of urban Indians live in slums. Out of India’s 3,245 towns and cities, only 21 have partial or full sewerage and treatment facilities. Hence, coping with rapid urbanization is a major challenge.
  • Air and water Pollution: Majority of our industrial plants are using outdated and population technologies and makeshift facilities devoid of any provision of treating their wastes. A great number of cities and industrial areas that have been identified as the worst in terms of air and water pollution. Acts are enforced in the country, but their implementation is not easy. The reason is their implementation needs great resources, technical expertise, political and social will. Again the people are to be made aware of these rules. Their support is indispensable to implement these rules.

SCOPE OF THE ENVIRONMENT

SCOPE OF THE ENVIRONMENT

The environment consists of four segments.
Atmosphere:
This is the protective blanket of gasses surrounding the earth.
It sustains life on earth
It saves the earth from the hostile environment of outer space
It absorbs most of the cosmic rays from outer space and a major portion of the electromagnetic radiation from the sun
It transmits only the near UV, visible and near IR (300 - 2500 nm)and radio waves (0.4 - 40 m) waves
It filters-out damaging UV waves wave length less than 300 nm.

The oxygen is composed of Nitrogen and Oxygen besides Argon, CO2 and trace gases.

Hydrosphere: The hydrosphere comprises of all types of water resources (oceans, seas, rivers, streams, reservoirs, polar icecaps, glaciers and ground water). Almost 97% of earths water supply is in the oceans. More than 2% of water resources is locked in polar ice caps. The remaining water (less than 1%)is available as fresh water in the form of rivers, streams, lakes and ground water. It is this meagre amount that is fit for human consumption.

Lithosphere: Lithosphere is the outer mantle of solid earth. It consists of minerals occurring in the earth's crust and the soil.

Biosphere: Biosphere indicates the realm of living organisms and their interaction with the environment (Atmosphere, Hydrosphere and Biosphere)