Multidisciplinary nature: a helpful solution to various environmental problems

The multidisciplinary nature of Environmental Science is imbibed in its definition that it is the study of the interaction of physical, chemical, and biological components of human surroundings.

Environmental studies deal with every issue that affects an organism. It is essentially a multidisciplinary approach that brings about an appreciation of our natural world and human impacts on its integrity. It is an applied science as it seeks practical answers to making human civilization sustainable on the earth’s finite resources.

Its components include biology, geology, chemistry, physics, engineering, sociology, health, anthropology, economics, statistics, computers, and philosophy.

Importance

The environment is not a single subject. It is an integration of several subjects that include both Science and Social Studies. To understand all the different aspects of our environment, we need to understand biology, chemistry, physics, geography, resource management, economics, and population issues. Thus the scope of environmental studies is extremely wide and covers some aspects of nearly every major discipline.

We live in a world in which natural resources are limited. Water, air, soil, minerals, oil, the products we get from forests, grasslands, oceans, and from agriculture and livestock, are all a part of our life support systems. Without them, life itself would be impossible. As we keep increasing in numbers and the quantity of resources improving this situation will only happen if each of us begins to take actions in our daily lives that will help preserve our environmental resources. We cannot expect Governments alone to manage the safeguarding of the environment, nor can we expect other people to prevent environmental damage. We need to do it ourselves. It is a responsibility that each of us must take on as one’s own.

The productive value of nature: As scientists make new advances in fields such as biotechnology we begin to understand that the world’s species contain an incredible and uncountable number of complex chemicals. These are the raw materials that are used for developing new medicines and industrial products and are a storehouse from which to develop thousands of new products in the future. The flowering plants and insects that form the most species-rich groups of living organisms are thus vital for the future development of man. If we degrade their habitat, these species will become extinct. If one sees being sold or used, a product that comes from an illegally killed wild species, if we do not inform the authorities, we become a party to its extinction. Once they are lost, man cannot bring them back. When we permit the destruction of a forest, wetland or other natural area and do not protest about it, future generations are being denied the use of these valuable resources and will blame us for these rash and negligent actions towards the environment.

Thus the urgent need to protect all living species is a concept that we need to understand and act upon. While individually, we perhaps cannot directly prevent the extinction of a species, creating a strong public opinion to protect the National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in which wild species live is an important aspect of sustainable living. There is a close link between agriculture and the forest, which illustrates its productive value. For crops to be successful, the flowers of fruit trees and vegetables must be pollinated by insects, bats and birds. Their life cycles however frequently require intact forests.

Aesthetic/Recreational value of nature: The aesthetic and recreational values that nature possesses enlivens our existence on earth. This is created by developing National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries in relatively undisturbed areas. A true wilderness experience has not only recreational value but is an incredible learning experience. It brings about an understanding of the oneness of nature and the fact that we are entirely dependent upon the intricate functioning of ecosystems.

The beauty of nature encompasses every aspect of the living and non-living parts of our earth. One can appreciate the magnificence of a mountain, the power of the sea, the beauty of a forest, and the vast expanse of the desert. It is these natural vistas and their incredible diversity of plant and animal life that has led to the development of several philosophies of life. It has also inspired artists to develop visual arts and writers and poets to create their works that vitalize our lives.

In an urban setting, green spaces and gardens are vital to the psychological and physical health of city dwellers. It provides not only an aesthetic and visual appeal but the ability to ensure that each individual is able to access a certain amount of peace and tranquillity. Thus urban environmental planners must ensure that these facilities are created in growing urban complexes. Another important conservation education facility in urban settings includes the need to set up well designed and properly managed zoological parks and aquariums. These have go great value in sensitizing school students to wildlife. Many young people who frequented zoos as young children grow up to love wildlife and become conservationists.

The option values of nature: While we use several goods and services of nature and enjoy its benefits, we must recognize that every activity that we do in our daily lives has an adverse impact on nature’s integrity. Thus if we use up all our resources, kill off and let species of plants and animals become extinct on earth, pollute our air and water, degrade land, and create enormous quantities of waste, we as a generation will leave nothing for future generations. Our present generation has developed its economies and lifestyles on unsustainable patterns of life. However, nature provides us with various options on how we utilize its goods and services. This is its option value. We can use up goods and services greedily and destroy its integrity and long-term values, or we can use its resources sustainably and reduce our impacts on the environment. The option value allows us to use its resources sustainably and preserve its goods and services for the future.



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About Harish Kumar

Harish, a fullstack developer at www.lyflink.com with five year experience in full stack web and mobile development, spends most of his time on coding, reading, analysing and curiously following businesses environments. He is a non-graduate alumni from IIT Roorkee, Computer Science and frequently writes on both technical and non-technical topics.

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