Environment (Word origin: Middle English envirounen, from Old French environner, from environ, round about + –ment.) itself is vast word which includes biological, physical, political, social, cultural, technological aspects and many more. Literally environment means the all the external conditions that influence the growth and development of living organisms.
Various definitions of environment are available. Cambridge Dictionaries Online has defined environment as “the air, water and land in or which people, animals and plants live.”
Similarly, Oxford Advanced learners Dictionary 8th Edition defines Environment in three different ways; viz.
1. The condition that affect the behavior and development of somebody or something.
2.The natural world in which people, animals and plant live.
3.The complete structure in which a user, computer or program operates.
Wikipedia defines environment as “the biotic and abiotic surrounding of an organism, or population, and includes particularly the factors that have an influence in their survival, development and evolution.” It has described environment and biophysical environment as synonymous terms.
For me, environment includes following things:
Ecosystem: Environment is a part of an ecosystem or whole which has biotic and abiotic components. It is impossible to separate components and their interactions in ecosystem. Animal depends upon plant for food; plant depends upon soil for its nutrients. Similarly, soil maintains fertility from excreta of animals and scavenges degraded by microbes. So environment cannot be separated from ecosystem.
Niche: Niche is a position or role taken by every living thing in their community which varies according to hierarchy. Environment has provided their own role to producers, consumers, decomposers, scavengers in ecosystem.
Variation: Environment changes according to time and place; hence it’s dynamic. During stone era, environment includes only nature and natural phenomenon. People used to live in trees. There were no roads, no vehicles, no technologies etc. But now-a-days technology, being major part of our life, plays major role in determining environment of a place and can’t exclude it while describing environment of certain places. Likewise, environment of two places at a time varies due to various factors such as development, education, pollution, technologies, resource availability etc.
Infirmary: Nature itself can cure many diseases of a person. Many physical and mental illness has been cured merely by walking in the lawn. People who live in polluted environment are likely to be sick earlier than those who lives in non-polluted and greenery environment. So we have to create greenery around our surroundings and keep our environment clean and fresh. It helps us to live happy life as well.
Research Station: Our nature itself is a best laboratory and good research station for both biological and social research. We can test our hypothesis in our own environment. Environment and its components help us to test many bio-physical and socio-economical findings using various research tools. We can compare productivity of different varieties of same crops in our soil; measure effects of pesticide use in human health and environment etc.
Origin site of thoughts, ideas and creativity: Nature itself is a beautiful and noble creation. Sir Isaac Newton invented law of gravity sitting under the apple tree; Archimedes proposed the law of displacement inside the bath tab; Wright Brothers succeed to invent helicopter after they saw birds flying. Similarly, Rachel Carson wrote a book “Silent Spring” in 1962 after seeing detrimental effect of DDT in environment which brought revolution in environmental sector. These are few examples of how environment can give rise to new thoughts, ideas and creativity to bring change in the world.
Nest Egg: Nature and environment is reservoir of renewable and non-renewable resources. Renewable resources can be renewed but non-renewable resources cannot be recreated and renewed. We extract fossils fuels and many non-renewable resources from Earth. It reduces our stock resource in reservoir and finally becomes empty. So we need think about sustainable use of resources i.e. use resources wisely without disturbing its capacity to fulfill the need of future generation. We need to think about use of renewable resource rather than non-renewable resources before it becomes extinct from earth. It helps to conserve our environment, reduce pollution and keeps our surroundings clean.
Machine: Our environment is just like a machine or a system. Inside this system exchange of energy and mass occurs within boundary between components. These components function together to give an output. If one component fails to perform its function, whole working mechanism will be disturbed and system fails. So to make system operate efficiently and smoothly we should focus on maintenance of system by planting trees, maintaining biodiversity, conserving forests, wise and efficient use of resources etc.
Earning of life: Environmental issues are being one of the major burning issues now-a-days. Many environment activists, organizations are working in the sector of environment conservation to create suitable environment for human beings and other species. It has created awareness about environment protection and provided employment opportunities to many environment activists. Besides, environmental science, after being included as academic course in university level, has widened its scope and is being one of the major disciplines of study.
Necropolis: Finally everyone, who takes birth in this world, has to die and is burnt or buried into the earth. So our nature or environment is also a place we all have to take rest after death.
Total Sum: Mason and Langenhim defines environment as “the sum of all substance and forces external to an organism which determines its existence and regulates its process.” In other word Environment is sum total of water, air and land interrelationships among themselves and also human beings, other living organisms and property. Hence environment is sum total of all of its components, their interaction and the product due to interaction of component. Environment cannot operate well if one of its components became nonfunctional; it leads to creation of new environment.
(PS: Images in this post are downloaded from internet using Google search engine.)