Saturday, 28 May 2011

NATURE, SCOPE AND IMPORTANCE OF ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES- THE MULTIDISCIPLINARY NATURE OF STUDIES



Environment is sum total of water, air and land, inter-relationships among themselves and also with the human beings, other living organisms and property.” In order to study environment one needs knowledge inputs from various disciplines.
 At the threshold of the 21st century, we are confronted with two conflicting scenario for the future of human kind. On one hand, there are possibilities of a bright future with press button living, space shuttles, information technology, genetic engineering and such other advances in science and technology. On the other hand, a grim scenario is looming large with burgeoning population, starved of resources and choked by pollution. Faced with such imminent threat, there is a growing realization that rational utilization of environmental endowments of life support systems like water, air and soil is a must for sustainable development.
 Academic disciplines are created to help us understand the universe better. While nature can be understood using the disciplines, it not ‘divided’ into disciplines. For instance, a certain phenomenon may be referred to as a chemical change while another as a physical one. But these categories are only perceptions.


‘Environmental studies’ is about the environment. Not the environment from the point of view of any one particular discipline, but a study and understanding of the interlink-ages- the complex ways in which one phenomenon, one action, is connected to another, how the same thing can be understood from different perspectives, perspectives often rooted in different disciplines.

The problems of pollution and wanton degradation of environmental resources cannot be solved without proper understanding of their causes and effects. Alongside, it is necessary to build up professional capabilities to develop and adopt policies, measures and programs for environmental studies.

For the students of management schools, who are future managers of business in different sectors of economic growth and social welfare, it is appropriate to have an introduction to environmental studies.

It is absolutely the truth that environmental degradation is increasingly undermining over lives. One of the most urgent tasks of our times to understand the implications of environmental damage and resource depletion that we witness today. We cannot ignore study of relationship between ecological devastation and deteriorating human conditions.

We must learn how to manage our environment, resource utilization and ecosystem. The students, teachers, general public and leaders, workers and executives and government as well as non-governmental organizations, all have to be sensitive to environmental issues. Not only that, they have to be fully aware of environmental consequences, of their actions, habits and attitudes. In such a scenario, it is difficult to think of a timelier introduction of this subject in the matter of study for modern management courses. ‘Environmental studies’ not only represents but also promotes the principles of environmental management.

Some of the environmental issues are perplex. It is through this perplexity, we need to bring out a comprehensive study which would be useful both for educational institutions and corporate world.

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE OR STUDIES?

Environmental science in its broadest sense is the science of complex interactions that occurs among the terrestrial, atmospheric, living and anthropological environments. It includes all the disciplines, such as chemistry, biology, sociology and government that affect or describe these interactions.

In broadest sense, environmental science may be defined as the study of the earth, air, water and living environments and the effects of technology thereon. To a significant degree, environmental science has evolved from investigations of the ways by which, and place in which living organisms carry out their life cycles. This is the discipline of natural history, which in recent time has evolved into ecology, the study of environmental factors that affect organisms and how organisms interact with these factors and with each other.

Traditionally, environmental science is divided among the study of the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the geosphere and the biosphere.

Environmental science is now a mature, viable discipline. The past three decades have witnessed a growing awareness of the affects of human activity upon our earth’s resources and during this period environmental study has emerged as a multi-disciplinary field of study to examine the interaction of the people and their environments



SCOPE:

A study of environmental science is getting lot of attention not only in the field of pollution control but also to sustain the life and nature.

It helps us to understand the nature of environment and its components, nature of disturbing factors and the various methods to overcome disturbing factors. The disturbing factors pressurize sustainability and natural living.

The scope of environmental science and its management has increased from manufacturing pollution control equipment, sewage and effluent treatment plants, biomedical waste treatment and fly ash management.

The subject is multidisciplinary in nature. It unfolds environmental issues for those who are directly or indirectly concerned with this discipline. The corporate leaders, the students of universities and colleges and the student-managers realize that environmental protection and resource conservation have to be considered as a normal part of conducting business and understanding nature. Similarly environmental concern has to a part of policy for the various governmental organizations. And same is true for public leaders whose sensitization is vital in this regard. Issues of environmental protection and “Right for Clean Environment” have already trickled down from educated and affluent people to the general public. Those who are not economically well off are equally affected, if not more due to environmental problems. Thus environmental concerns have to be on the agenda of all organizations.
In India, we have been witnessing significant environmental degradation during the last few decades. Increasing industrialization, high-intensity agriculture, (use of fertilizers and pesticides) deforestation, soil erosion, urbanization, transportation and population growth are the major environmental problems and these are likely to increase. If the desire to lead higher living standard also increases, then problem would be too acute to be manageable.

Industry has significant role in environmental protection. More and more business executives have now identified environment as issue that affect their companies.

It is believed by the scientists and the leaders in industry that if we do not come to grip with environmental issues, irreversible process would have been set in that would ultimately lead to human suffering not in the countries of South but also the North. Most of the environmental problems are well known though we may not have found solution for all. The problems are both global and national and all these pose serious challenges not only to our planet but also to our way of life. Human beings are not separate entity. They are part of the surrounding, our ecosystem- air, water, land, not only that but one cannot think of human survival if the services provided by the environment don’t become available. Without a suitable habitat neither animals nor plants nor human can survive. If the habit is degraded/damaged, life would be adversely affected. Since the environment provides all the resources that are used in the process of production of goods or services, the responsibility of industry is of paramount consideration. Industry not only has to consider issues like profit, quality standards, legislation and regulatory controls but has to go a step beyond.

Our natural resources are either renewable or non-renewable, the later have to be conserved and the use of former to be judicious. Besides the issue of resources, our living style, rate of consumption and disposal of waste have created problems for manufacturing, marketing and management of landfills for wasters, air quality, water table and many other environmental problems.

In short scope of environmental studies is broad based and it encompasses a large number of areas and aspects, broadly listed below:

  • Natural Resources- their conservation and management
  • Ecology and biodiversity
  • Environmental pollution and control
  • Social issues in relation to development and environment
  • Human population and environment


IMPORTANCE:


There is a proverb “If you plan for one year, plant rice, if you plan for 10 years, plant trees and if you plan for 100 years, educate people.”  If we wish to manage our planet earth, we have to make all the persons environmentally educated.

The study of environmental science makes us understand the scientific basis for establishing a standard which can be considered acceptably safe, clean and healthy for man and natural ecosystem. Natural ecosystem includes both physical and natural science.

Most environmental scientists agree that if pollution and other environmental deterrents continue at their present rates, the result will be irreversible damage to the ecological cycles and balances in nature upon which all life depends. Environmental scientists warn that fundamental, and perhaps drastic, changes in human behaviour will be required to avert an ecological crisis.

To safeguard the healthful environment that is essential to life, humans must learn that Earth does not have infinite resources. Earth’s limited resources must be conserved and, where possible, reused. Furthermore, humans must devise new strategies that mesh environmental progress with economic growth. The future growth of developing nations depends upon the development of sustainable conservation methods that protect the environment while also meeting the basic needs of citizens.

An environmental study is the subject in which we examine important issues relating to environment as they affect our lives. It is an exploratory description of issues. Each issue can be probed more deeply.

Environmental studies is very important but most neglected body of knowledge. It concerns itself with life support system and is very closely related with development and economic growth.  Many a time both development and economic growth are not easily reconciled.  We have to choose between environment and development.

It has been the reality that the industrial countries have high level of development and decent standard of living at the expense of environment and depletion of natural resources. The real question is how long is the Mother Earth likely suffer and how long this kind of development will be sustainable?  Developing countries on the other hand are still struggling to achieve a minimum standard of living though they are also equally contributing to environmental damage.

Both, industrialized and underdeveloped or developing countries, damage, deplete and pollute the environment. Developing countries want accelerated growth to fulfill their basic needs and real question is should they follow footsteps are their big brothers, yes Developed countries? This is a bear fact that both the consumption and life-style of people have direct relations to environmental problems. Therefore, living habits and attitudinal and ethical questions have now cropped up which are main concerns for Environmental Studies. These issues are controversial and need deep study to help us understand the environmental problems.

The most important questions that bother every developing country is what should be the ideal combination of pattern of growth and development, which Model of development  as well as of business should be followed so that we do not ignore the principle that underlie sustainability. For the above, we need change at local, national, regional and global levels together with an economic and social transformation at the levels of individuals and communities.

This subject forms part of Business Environment. Business Environment is divided into two categories viz. External and Internal Environment. External environment include political, economic, social, legal, technological, international and natural environment. On the other hand, Internal Environment includes people, culture, work ethics and attitudes.

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