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MULTIDISCIPLINARY NATURE OF EVSSCOPE AND IMPORTANCE

THEORY

Environmental Studies:
The reasoning behind introduction of this course for curriculum of engineering
has to be first understood to do justice to this effort. The ramifications of this
course as well the understanding it provides should outgrow from four walls of
classroom. The application of this course learning is what will make a real
difference. And engineers are supposed to be masters of application.
It is about realigning our lifestyle. The course sets out with one primary
objective, to give you information about the environment and develop a concern
in our minds regarding the same. It expects then that we will begin to act at level
to protect the environment as we know it.
There are thus, three very clear reasons for studying this course:
1. Need for information that clarifies modern environmental concepts such
asthe need to conserve biodiversity. The need to lead more sustainable
lifestylesand the need to use resources more equitably
2. There is a need to change the way in which we view our own environment
by a practical approach based on observation and self-learning.
3. There is the need to create a concern for our environment that will trigger
pro-environmental action; including activities we can do in our daily life to
protect it.
Environment:
Environment is derived from the French word Environner which means to
encircle or surround. All biological and non-biological entities that surround us
are included in environment.
Thus, environment can be defined as the sum total of water, air and land and
the inter-relationships that exists among them and with human beings, other
living organisms and mechanisms.
Scope:
Environment is a subject with wide scope. There are various dimensions to it and
it encompasses large number of areas. Few of them have been summarized as
below:

Natural resources: Conservation and management of the same


Bio-diversity, ecology on the whole
Pollution and its control
Social issues relating to development and environment. Going ahead with
sustainable development
Human population and its impact.

These are but few aspects which have direct impact on environment. And thus
form direct relevance to society at large.

MULTIDISCIPLINARY NATURE OF EVSSCOPE AND IMPORTANCE

THEORY

Introduction:
Natural Environment comprises both living and non living things present on
earth. The living things are called the Biotic components and non living things
are called the Abiotic components.
Biotic components form an ecosystem. Abiotic components are compound and
physical elements in the environment.

Biotic Components:

They can the living organisms present on earth. They can be classified further as
producers, consumers and decomposers
Producers: These are autotrophic plants which produce their own food with
the help of chlorophyll. This food is used by them and given to other living
organisms in the environment. The food is in the form of Carbohydrates.
(Chlorophyll is a molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to
produce carbohydrates)
Consumers: These are heterotrophic living organisms that cannot produce
their own food due to absence of chlorophyll.
They can be classified further into following 4 types
Primary Consumers or Herbivores: They are also called first order
consumers. They eat the producers or plants. Examples are cattle
like cow and goat, deer, rabbit etc.
Secondary Consumers or Primary Carnivores: They are also called
second order consumers. They eat herbivores Examples are snakes,
cats foxes etc.
Tertiary Consumers: They are also called third order consumers.
They feed on secondary consumers. They are large Carnivores.
Example is Wolf.
Quaternary Consumers: They are also called fourth order
consumers. They feed on secondary consumers. They are very large
Carnivores and feed on tertiary consumers and are not consumed
by other animals. Examples are lions and tigers.
Decomposers: These are mainly microorganisms like Bacteria and Fungi.
They are also called as as Sapotrophs. The dead organic materials of
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MULTIDISCIPLINARY NATURE OF EVSSCOPE AND IMPORTANCE

THEORY

producers and consumers are their food. They break down the organic
matter into simple compounds during their metabolic process. These
simple compounds are nutrients, which are absorbed by the producers
thus completing a cyclic exchange matter between the biotic and abiotic
components of the ecosystem.

Abiotic Components:

Abiotic factor are non living things. They are further divided in 2 parts, Climatic
and Soil factors. Climatic factors include Temperature, rainfall and snow, wind,
light, humidity etc. The climate of an area is the result of several factors such as
latitude, elevation, nearness to the sea, monsoon activities and ocean currents.
Soil factors include pH and mineral content in soil. Soil pH indicates the level
acidity or alkalinity of the soil. pH is the concentration of hydrogen ions in the
soil. It is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. A pH value of
>7 indicates alkalinity while a value <7 indicates acidity.

Components of environment can be also be divided into 4 major aspects Lithosphere, Hydrosphere, Atmosphere and Biosphere.
Lithosphere - Its the earths outer layer consisting of the soil and rocks.
There are 2 types of lithosphere namely oceanic lithosphere and
continental lithosphere.
Hydrosphere - This comprise all water possessions both surface and
ground water. The worlds water is found in oceans and seas, lakes and
reservoirs, rivers and streams, glaciers and snowcaps in the Polar Regions
in addition to ground water below the land areas.
Atmosphere - It is the state of layer adjoining the earth and extends up to
500 kms above the earths shell. Atmosphere is also called as layer of
gases. The atmosphere, which is a gaseous wrap, protects the earth as of
cosmic radiations and provides life supporting Oxygen.
Biosphere - This segment extends from 10000 m underneath sea level to
6000 m above sea level. Biosphere is the total computation of all
ecosystems.

Human beings:
Human is the only different species than the rest due to the following reasons:
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MULTIDISCIPLINARY NATURE OF EVSSCOPE AND IMPORTANCE

THEORY

1. Human are unique due to the ability to use language and thought.
2. Having evolved a large and complex brain, human species have a facility
to think, imagine, create, and learn from experience that far exceeds that
of any other species.
3. Humans have used this ability to create technologies, inventions and
many other things to help themselves to stay comfortably on this planet
unlike other creatures (due to non presence of intellect)
The volume of human population is increasing all over the world which is having
a detrimental effect on the environment. Few challenges to the environment
currently due to the human exploitaion are:
1. Global Warming
2. Acid Rain
3. Ozone layer depletion
4. Air, Water and land pollution
5. Eutrophication (Water pollution due to which there is depletion in water
oxygen levels. This leads to devastating effects on marine life)
6. Loss of Biodiversity

Biodiversity in the broad sense means the different forms of life and life
sustaining systems.
Major Factors Responsible for Loss/Reduction in Biodiversity
1. Overexploitation of natural resources and destruction of ecosystems for
meeting the human requirements of food, shelter and comfort.
2. Environmental pollutants like pesticides, heavy metals, chlorinated
hydrocarbons, acid rain, global warming etc.
3. Natural causes like earthquakes, floods, droughts, forest fires, epidemics.

Environmental studies integrate the study of interactions among physical,


chemical and biological components of the environment.
Environmental study helps us in understanding more about our environment and
ways to protect it. Issues like climate change, conservation, biodiversity,
pollution, natural resource usage, waste management and sustainable
development can be studied in detail in this course.