What is the environment?
The environment is the space in which the life of organisms takes place and which allows their interaction. It is made up of living beings ( biotic factors ), non-life elements ( abiotic factors ), and artificial elements created by man.
When speaking of biotic factors, reference is made to all living beings that live in an environment (microscopic bacteria, fungi, flora, fauna, human beings ) and the interactions between them; abiotic factors are those that lack life but determine the physical space of the environment (such as air, soil, and water ) and are essential for the subsistence of living organisms.
Artificial elements include all those created by man, such as urbanization, culture, traditions. The sum of these natural, cultural and social values in a historical moment and a particular place constitute the environment.
Importance of the environment
All organisms get all the elements they need to live from the environment: from air and water to shelter and food that enables them to grow, develop and generate energy. Maintaining the balance of the environment is important to sustaining life on earth as we know it.
Also, humans use a variety of natural resources from the environment to meet their needs, including clothing, food, and everyday items. For this reason, people must know and care for their interactions with the environment to sustainably manage the natural resources that enable their economic growth and development.
The fauna and flora are of vital importance to the environment as they are interdependent, which enables the balance of species and the development of biodiversity.
Human survival depends to a large extent on the interactions and conscious use of flora, fauna, and natural resources as well as the development of social, political, and economic relationships that are part of their environment.
When humans take care of abiotic factors (such as the rivers of a region) and biotic factors (such as the trees in a forest), they preserve and preserve the future of their species, the future of other organisms, and that of future generations.
The environment must be cared for and protected for the development of current and future species. It is studied by ecology, the branch of biology that studies living things and their interaction with their environment.
The various ecosystems are formed by the number of species in a certain area and their interactions with one another and with their environment. The species that are part of an ecosystem are interdependent. The relationships between them and their environment thus enable the flow of energy and matter within the ecosystem.
Afforestation is a key element in the balance of the environment as trees perform important functions for most animals and humans (for example, they are the main producers of oxygen in terrestrial ecosystems).
Natural resources are part of the environment: they are all material or energetic elements that exist naturally (ie are available without human intervention) and are used by humans to meet their basic needs and for their development. economically and socially.
The natural environment consists of all living things, both plants and animals. and abiotic factors: inanimate organisms (water, air, soil, rocks) that are fundamental to the life of living organisms.
In the human-intervened environments, social, economic, and political aspects are also taken into account.
Transformation of the environment
Over the years, plant and animal species have evolved and adapted to different ecosystems. The acquisition of characteristics that gave them tolerance to resist in a certain environment has meant that some species have lasted over time, while others that have not been able to adapt have become extinct.
Many of the transformations in the environment occur naturally and do not depend on human beings, for example, changes in the ecosystem that can be generated by the eruption of a volcano or a flood.
However, most changes in the environment are caused by human action. Man is the living organism that most intervenes in the environment: he not only creates the artificial environment but also explores, modifies, and uses the resources of the natural environment for his survival and well-being.
Although some of the transformations introduced by man do not have significant negative impacts on the natural environment, many others bring irreversible damage as a result of pollution and destruction of the environment.
Man has been modifying the natural environment through urbanization, the excessive use of natural resources, and industrialization.
Environmental pollution is defined as the presence in the environment of chemical, physical or biological agents that can have harmful effects on the safety and health of living things. As the population began to grow and their technology increased, the human impact on the natural environment became greater and more harmful.
Pollution began to deteriorate exponentially in the second half of the 18th century after the industrial revolution due to the exploitation of mineral and fossil resources. In this way, the balance of the environmental system was lost and it was even impossible for many living things to adapt to these great changes.
Man-made pollution can have different origins, different elements, and affect the natural environment of organisms:
Destruction of forests. It is produced by the indiscriminate felling of trees that are essential for the survival of living beings. In most cases, it occurs due to the expansion of urban areas, the expansion of industrial areas or livestock and agriculture activities.
Water pollution. It is produced mainly by industrial and domestic waste thrown into rivers and seas.
The exploitation of natural resources. Mega-mining activities, which include oil extraction, generate waste and put ecosystems at risk.
Air pollution. Industry and automobiles release gases that contribute to global warming.
The decrease in biodiversity. The impact that air and water pollution produces on different species of living organisms generates an imbalance in ecosystems, which leads to the extinction of those species that cannot adapt to changes in the environment.
Soil contamination. The use of pesticides and plastic, nuclear and non-biodegradable waste causes soil degradation.
How to take care of the environment?
To avoid the destruction of the environment and the survival of living things and human development, the necessary precautions and measures must be taken. First, natural resources need to be used well, not indiscriminately, and issues such as climate change and the protection of biodiversity need to be taken into account.
To fulfill this task of environmental protection, all actors in society must become aware and get involved. It is necessary to demand states and governments that promote environmental protection and control the actions of industry, companies, and scientists.
Even from home, each individual can take action against consumption and production and change habits and routines in the direction of others more sustainable, such as:
- Consciously use water.
- Do not throw waste onto public roads.
- Reduce the use of the plastic wrap.
- Use a cloth bag for shopping and thus discourage the use of plastic bags in shops.
- Maintain urban green spaces in condition.
- Use public transportation or bicycles instead of cars or buses.
- Find out about companies that seek to reduce the environmental impact in the production of their goods and services, and consume them.
- Consciously use energy: turn off lights, avoid keeping appliances plugged in when they are not being used.
- Separate household waste.
- Reuse plastic and glass containers.
- Encourage these actions among friends and family.
What is the environment? characteristics, Importance