MEANING OF ENVIRONMENT
An environment is a complex of external factors that acts on a system and determines its course and form of existence. An environment may be thought of as a superset, of which the given system is a subset. An environment may have one or more parameters, physical or otherwise. The environment of a given system must necessarily interact with that system.
Generally, the environment or milieu of some object or action consists of the substances, circumstances, objects, or conditions by which it is surrounded or in which it occurs. (Although the two terms are usually synonyms, some sciences prefer the less common milieu to avoid confusion with the more well-known meanings of environment in ecology, politics, and sociology.)
Either word may be used with specialized meaning in various contexts:
In biology, Environment may be defined as the complex of climatic, biotic, social and edaphic factors that acts upon an organism and determines its form and survival. It, therefore, includes everything that may directly affect the metabolism or behavior of a living organism or species, including light, air, water, soil, and other living beings. See environment (biology).
In non-technical contexts, such as politics, it often refers to the natural environment, that part of the natural world that is deemed valuable or important by human beings, for any reason.
In literature, history, and sociology, it is the culture that an individual lives or was educated in, and the people and institutions with whom he interacts; see social environment.
In fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy it can refer to any fictional universe or setting in which different stories are set. Thus the Star Wars sagas are all in one milieu while the various Star Trek series, movies, and books are in a different milieu. This meaning is also relevant to fantasy role playing games.
In any kind of organization or enterprise, it may also refer to the social and psychological conditions that are felt by its members; see work environment .
In any kind of meeting or congress, it may signify the prevailing mood or preferences of the participants.
In architecture, ergonomy, and work safety , it is the ensemble of elements of a room or building that affect the well-being and efficiency of its occupants—including dimensions and arrangement of living spaces and furniture, light, ventilation, temperature, noise, etc..; see living environment .
In thermodynamics, it refers to any objects that are not part of the system under study, and may receive or provide heat to it; see surroundings (thermodynamics).
In chemistry and biochemistry, it is the chemical nature of a solution in which a reaction takes place, chiefly its pH (i.e. whether it is acidic or alkaline).
In metallurgy and ceramics, it often refers to the oxidizing or reductive character of the gases or flames prevailing during some high-temperature process.
In computer science, it generally means data, processes or devices which, although not explicitly named as parameters of a computation, may nevertheless affect its outcome.
In functional programming, lambda calculus, and programming languages, it usually means identifiers that are defined outside a given function but can be used in it. In other words, everything with global or otherwise non-local scope to that function.
In certain operating systems like Unix, DOS, and Microsoft Windows, the environment is a set of environment variables in the form of var=value used by applications and libraries to affect default preferences.
More generally, it may also mean the hardware and operating system on which a program is executed; see System platform.
See geography for a subject that is a study of the environment. (Terms like SOSE (Studies of Society & the Environment) not only refer to environmental studies, but also social sciences.)
Environment - how can you help protect it?Our planet is in trouble! Almost every day we seem to hear of yet another problem affecting the environment - and what a list of problems! - pollution, acid rain, climate change, the destruction of rainforests and other wild habitats, the decline and extinction of thousands of species of animals and plants....and so on.
"IF SPRING CAME ONCE A CENTURY INSTEAD OF ONCE A YEAR OR BUST FORTH WITH THE SOUND OF AN EARTHQUAKE AND NOT INA SILENCE WHAT WONDER AND EXPECTATION THERE WOLD BE IN ALL HEARTS TO BEHOLD THE MIRACULOUS CHANGE"
Nowadays, most of us know that these threats exist and that humans have caused them. Many of us are very worried about the future of our planet and unless we can find a way of solving the problems we have made then the environment will suffer even more.
It all sounds so depressing - but we certainly mustn't despair! Every one of us, whatever age we are can do something to help slow down and reverse some of the damage. We cannot leave the problem-solving entirely to the experts - we all have a responsibility for our environment. We must learn to live in a sustainable way i.e. learn to use our natural resources which include air, freshwater, forests, wildlife, farmland and seas without damaging them. As populations expand and lifestyles change, we must keep the world in a good condition so that future generations will have the same natural resources that we have.
Here are just a few examples of the threats to our environment and some ideas to help you to do something about them.
We humans create such a lot of rubbish! Between 1992 and 2008 household waste increased by 16% and we now produce just under half a tonne per person each year. Most of this is taken away by dustmen and buried in enormous landfill sites or burned in incinerators - both of these actions can be dangerous for the environment. Is all our rubbish really rubbish? If you think about it, much of what we throw away could be used again. It makes sense to reuse and recycle our rubbish instead of just trying to solve the problem of where to put it! Encouragingly rates of recycling have increased so that we recycle 35 % of our household rubbish, although we could recycle up to 80%. Much of our waste is made up of glass, metal, plastic and paper. Our natural resources such as trees, oil, coal and aluminium are used up in enormous amounts to make these products and the resources will one day be completely used up. We must cut down on energy use.
WAYS TO HELP ENVIRONMENT
* Sort out your rubbish. Organic matter e.g. potato peelings, left over food, tea leaves etc. can be transferred straight to a compost heap in the garden and used as a good, natural fertiliser for the plants. Aluminium cans, glass bottles and newspapers etc. are often collected from our doorsteps these days, but other items such as plastic bottles, juice cartons and cardboard may not be, in which case they can be taken to nearby recycling banks. Find out where they are by asking your local council or library.
* Use recycled paper to help save trees. Everyone in Britain uses about 6 trees worth of paper every year.
Chlorine bleach is usually used to make newspapers and this pollutes rivers. It's better to use unbleached, recycled paper whenever you can.
* Take your old clothes to charity shops. Some are sold, others are returned to textile mills for recycling.
* Try to avoid buying plastic. It's hard to recycle. One way to cut down on plastic is to refuse to use carrier bags offered by supermarkets and use strong, long lasting shopping bags instead, or re-use plastic bags over and over again, until they wear out and then recycle them.
* Don't buy over-packed goods. Many things we buy have unnecessary amounts of plastic and paper around them.
Rainforests are valuable habitats. About half of all the species of animals and plants in the world live in rainforests with a possible 50,000 species a year becoming extinct. Thousands of rainforest plants contain substances that can be used in medicines and the tribal people of the forests have great knowledge of them. Rainforests are also important because they provide us with oxygen and help to regulate the world's climate and atmosphere.
Yet despite their value, an area of rainforest the size of Britain is destroyed every year. One and a half acres are cleared every second, an area about the size of a football pitch. They are cut down to make way for 'civilised man' to provide timber, grow crops and graze cattle. Sometimes they're burnt down to make space to grow soya, an animal feed and to grow palm oil, a bio-fuel used as an alternative to petrol and diesel, as well as being used as an ingredient in many foods.
Ideas to Help
* Never buy products made up of tropical hardwoods e.g. mahogany and teak. It is better to buy only pine, oak, ash or beech because they can be replaced.
* Garden and flower shops sometimes sell rainforest orchids that have been imported, although endangered ones have been protected since 1973. If you buy an orchid, check that it has been grown in Britain.
* Some parrots and macaws are unfortunately still imported. If you want a parrot as a pet, make sure it has been hatched in Britain.
* Eating a beef burger may be helping to destroy the rainforest! Most burgers in Britain are made from European cattle. However, the cattle are often fed on soya beans and a lot of that comes from Brazil where large areas of forest have been destroyed to make soya fields. Before buying a burger, ask where the cattle came from and what they were fed on. Try a veggie burger for a change!
The air, water and soil of habitats all over the world have been, and are still being polluted in many different ways. This pollution affects the health of living things. Air is damaged by car and lorry fumes, and power stations create acid rain which destroys entire forests and lakes. When fossil fuels i.e. oil, gas and coal are burned to provide energy for lighting, cooking etc. they form polluting gases.
Oils spills pollute sea water and kill marine life; chemical waste from factories and sewage works, and artificial fertilisers from farmland, pollute river water, killing wildlife and spreading disease.
The careless or deliberate dumping of litter in the environment is not only unsightly but dangerous for wildlife too.
Ideas to Help
* Don’t drop litter.
* Use less energy by switching off lights when rooms are not in use, not wasting hot water, not overheating rooms and not boiling more water than necessary when making a cup of tea!
* Use a bicycle or walk instead of using a car for short trips.
* If you spot pollution, such as oil on the beach, report it to the local council. If you suspect a stream is polluted, report it to the local Environmental Health Officer.
* If you use chlorine-based bleach or detergents containing phosphates you are contributing to water pollution.
Try to buy 'environmentally-friendly' products which don't contain these.
* Organic foods are produced without the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides, preventing these pollutants from contaminating habitats and entering the food chain.
"THIS IDEALLIC PLACE WEFIND OURSELVES FILLED WITH A YEARNING TO LINGER HERE WHERE TIME STANDS STILL AND BEAUTY OVERWHELMS"
The Ozone Layer
Fifteen to thirty miles above the Earth lies the stratosphere, a broad band of gases and one of these gases is ozone. It's only a small part of the stratosphere but very important because it prevents too many of the sun's ultra violet rays from reaching us. Too many ultra violet rays can give us skin cancer and destroy plankton, the important microscopic life in the sea. In the 1980s it was discovered that 'holes' were appearing in the ozone layer above the Antarctic and Arctic.
CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons, are gases used in the manufacture of aerosols and fridges, are believed have been responsible for destroying the ozone layer. In 1987 the Montreal Protocol was introduced and later signed up to by 120 countries who agreed to half their CFC emissions by the year 2000.
We now know that apart from destroying the ozone layer, CFCs contribute significantly to the greenhouse effect. Even though they have been banned, their long atmospheric lifetime of 20 to 100 years will continue to contribute to the greenhouse effect until they finally are broken down by the sun.
Ideas to Help
* If you know of anyone getting rid of an old fridge, tell them that the CFCs can be drained out and recycled - contact the local council and they will dispose of the fridge safely. New fridges do not contain CFCs.
Certain gases in the atmosphere, mainly carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorocarbons, act like the glass in a greenhouse, allowing sunlight through to heat the Earth's surface but trapping some of the heat as it radiates back into space. Without this the Earth would be frozen and lifeless. However, owing to Man's activities,
'greenhouse gases' are building up in the atmosphere, causing a greater amount of heat to be reflected back to Earth. The result is an increase in average world temperatures and is already causing more droughts, flooding and extreme weather conditions such hurricanes.
HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT
* Don't waste electricity or heat. Electricity and heating are produced by burning coal, oil and gas and this action gives off carbon dioxide.
* Car fumes produce carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide - so try to cut down on car journeys if possible. Use a bike or walk - it's good exercise for you too!
* Recycle as much of your waste as you can. Methane, the most effective 'greenhouse gas', is released into the air as the rubbish in landfill sites rots.
*Cut down on how much meat you eat. Meat consumption has risen and farm animals, especially cattle produce methane. Not only that but they are frequently fed soya which is often grown on land where rainforests have been destroyed. We need the rainforests to absorb carbon dioxide and remove it from the air.
Endangered Habitats and their Wildlife
Wild habitats all over the world are fast disappearing. Forests are being cut down, rivers and seas polluted, heath lands built on, hedgerows pulled up, ponds filled in - the destruction seems endless. As the habitats decrease, so do their communities of animals and plants. Habitat destruction is one of the main reasons why many species face extinction. Habitats are commonly split up and animals can't get from one part to another, unless wildlife 'corridors' are provided. Other reasons for their demise include the hunting of animals and collection of plants. Now they are facing a new threat, that of climate change.
A report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) shows nearly one third of amphibians, more than one in eight birds and nearly a quarter of mammals are threatened with extinction. 869 species are already described as being extinct or extinct in the wild, i.e. disappeared from the earth forever.
Ideas to Help
* In many countries souvenirs made from rare wildlife are available - never buy shells, coral or things made from elephant ivory, rhino horn or cat skin etc.
* Try to reduce your 'carbon footprint'.
* Remember that British habitats and wildlife are under threat too. The destruction of wood land, pollution of rivers and ponds, the use of pesticides and herbicides have all contributed to the reduction in the amount of wildlife in Britain. Many animals and plants are endangered e.g. red squirrels, otters, barn owls, golden eagles, natter jack toads, many species of butterflies and dragonflies, orchids - to name just a few. If you have a garden at home, you could transform it into a mini nature reserve for wildlife. The same could be done in your school grounds.
Here are just a few ideas to create a wildlife garden:-
1. Make a pond. Even A small pond will attract frogs and toads etc. Birds and foxes may use it for drinking.
2. Make a wildflower meadow. Wildflower plants and seeds may be bought from garden suppliers and, if planted correctly, a colourful meadow will result, attracting birds, butterflies and other insects.
3. Provide logs and stones and allow a few autumn leaves to remain lying around. These provide shelter for mini beasts and perhaps small mammals such as shrews and mice. An over-neat garden will not be attractive to wildlife.
4. Feed the birds during winter and put up nest boxes for robins and blue tits etc. to use in spring.
5. If your garden is big enough, you could plant a small wood. Always grow native trees such as oak, ash or birch - these attract more insects than foreign trees.
6. Hedgehogs are useful to have in the garden as they eat slugs. Encourage them to stay by providing them with tinned cat or dog meat, water and a safe place to hibernate in winter, such as a pile of logs, stuffed with hay and leaves.
7. Avoid using chemical sprays in the garden - some of these can be poisonous to wildlife. It's best to let the birds eat the cabbage-munching caterpillars, the hedgehogs and toads deal with the lettuce-loving slugs and the ladybirds dine on the rose-ravaging greenfly!
"REST IS NOT IDLENESS ANDO LIE SOMETIMES ON YHE GRASS UNDER TRESS ON A SUMMER DAY LISTENING TO THE MURMUR OF THE WATER OR WATCHING THE CLOUDS FLOAT ACROSS YHE SKY LIS BY NO MEANS A WASE OF TIME "
Do you like Polar Bears? Well every time you switch on the light you are probably helping them...to become extinct. Alarming as it may seem, we are ALL contributing to the sad story of animals dying out –a story that we hear about in the news every day. This is not even including the other devastating effects that climate change is predicted to have on us and the Earth. Start doing your bit now by reading on to find out exactly what climate change is, how it is caused, what effect it is having on our planet and how you can do your bit to help. Because if we all Ignore climate change our planet will become more and more out of balance until it is too late. ‘ Climate change = the build-up of man-made gases in the atmosphere that trap the sun’s heat, causing changes in weather patterns around the world’. Before we look at climate change and its related issues – Global Warming, the Greenhouse Effect, Greenhouse Gases, melting ice caps and rising sea level, let’s be sure that we understand what is meant by these big technical words.
What is Climate?
Climate is ‘the general weather in one place over a long period of time’. Soit’s not what the weather is like today, it is the average weather conditions over a few years. Meteorologists (scientists who measure the weather) collect detailed information about the weather every day, often using high-tech satellite and computer systems. Hundreds of measurements are calculated and the results compared to previous readings. Climate Change From their readings, meteorologists have noticed that the world’s climate is getting warmer. But they also know that changes in the climate are nothing new. For example, 50 million years ago there was no ice at the Poles, but18,000 years ago there was ice 2 milest hick in Scotland .Have you heard of the Ice Age? Not the film, but the condition that the earth was in many thousands of years ago! Earth has been in and out of ice ages all through its billions of years of existence. Much of the planet was regularly covered in huge ice sheets and glaciers as the air temperatures plummeted then rose again, causing the ice to melt. This is one reason why the woolly mammoth is thought to have become extinct. Its habitat melted and it couldn’t cope with the warmer climate. fuss about nothing? c hange is happening again? Because itis happening more quickly now than ever. Humans are believed to be speeding up the rate at which the climate The carbon found in coal today came from the carbon dioxide that the tree sabs or bed all those millions of years ago when they were alive and photosynthesising.Oil – Fossilised prehistoric and microscopic sea creatures and plants (plankton and diatoms) from under the seafloor. Many of these tiny sea creature shad shells, which are made of calcium carbonate and the minute plants would have absorbed carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. When they all died, s ank and got squashed under the seafloor, the pressure and heat of squeezing turned the carbon in their remains to liquid.
The problem: People!
10,000 years ago there were nocars, planes, buses, trains or motorbikes. There was no electricity – no TVs, electric lights, fridges, microwaves, washing machines, computers, mobile phones (imagine that – no computers or mobile phones!), central heating (brrr!),factories, power stations and so on. Things stayed Like this for thousands of years. Early peoples used horses andoxen for farming andtransport.1700s: Then humans invented more complicated machines, which needed some sort of energy to power them. Coal, oil and natural gas (fossilfuels) were discovered underground.1800s to present day: Then came electricity and the combustion engine. These both involved burning fossil fuels, which created energy for electricity and the machines, such ascars. Since their invention, industry and technology have improved rapidly, increasing the amount of power used in, manufacturing (making thingsin factories) and electricity. The population(number people) of the world has Also increased dramatically, which means even more people use transport, manufactured goods and electricity, or energy in general. Natural Gas - Gas is also formed when prehistoric plants and animals decay and is usually found in areas where there is coal or oil.This period in geological history was known as the carboniferous era because the coal, oil and gas that was formed is full of carbon. Let’s take a look at how and why burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases and causes climate change. Greenhouse Gases and the Greenhouse Effect Greenhouse gases are responsible forthe Greenhouse Effect. But before we investigate that, let’s find out what greenhouse gases are. Can you name any of them? The most well-known greenhouse gases Carbon Dioxide or CO2. Other greenhouse gases are methane, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and water vapour.But greenhouse gases are not always bad. We actually need some greenhouse gases in the atmospherein order for life on Earth to exist: Trees and plants would not survive withoutC02 as they need it for photosynthesis.The plants in turn provide food for animals and they give out oxygen for animals to breathe .Greenhouse gases also keep the planet warm enough for life to exist. Without them the world would be 33ºC colder than it is now (and life would not be possible (the average temperature for November in the UK is around 6ºC. This means it would be more like –27ºC here instead. This is because the greenhouse gases form a protective layer in the atmosphere that stops all the sun’s warmth disappearing back up into space.So why are they thought of as bad? The trouble now is that the amount ofgreenhouse gases in the atmosphere is higher it would be naturally, and this is upsetting the world’s climate
Where are all the extra greenhouse gas emissions coming from ? Power stations: When we burn coal, oil orgas to make electricity. Factories - you’ve all seen pictures of factory chimneys belching smoke into the sky? Transport: Cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes , trains, boats and aeroplanes. Petrol and diesel are fossil fuels and we burn them in engines to make energy – waste greenhouse gases come out of the exhaust. Rice ‘padi’ fields give off huge amounts of ‘breathing’ away in the wet fields.Cows constantly burp methane while they chew the cud! And there are approximately1,500,000,000 (that’s 1.5 billion!) cows in the world,all happily burping away (and breaking wind from the other end!). That’s a lot of methane…Landfill sites. Methane is produced by working really hard to rot all the rubbish down. Deforestation: Chopping down and burning trees. This releases all the carbon dioxide that the tree shave absorbed whilst growing (it also means fewer trees left to re-absorb the extra CO2 going Picture: a padi field The Greenhouse Effect Where do all these fumes go? Up into the sky and they keep going up into the atmosphere until they can rise no further. Here they hang around, forming a kind of gassy blanket around the earth. What happens next is similar to what happens in a greenhouse. In a greenhouse:
1. The sun shines through the glass and warms up the inside of the greenhouse, helping the plants togrow and the tomatoes to ripen.
2. The heat can’t escape out of the glass roof again
3. It slowly but surely gets hotter and hotter in the greenhouse until someone opens the door or night falls.
Well the same sort of thing is happening to Earth!
1. The sun shines through the layer of gases (which act like the greenhouse roof) and provides Earth
with the light and heat it needs for all the plants and animals to survive.
2. When it reaches the ground, the sunlight is reflected back up into the sky as infra-red waves.
3.In the past, most of these rays used to travel up and up beyond the atmosphere, out of harm’s way.
4. Now, however, the thicker layer of greenhouse gases absorbs more of the heat on its way back
through the atmosphere, and reflects much of it back to Earth.
5.The heat is then trapped between the layer of gases and the ground, just like in a greenhouse. This means that the air gradually heats up more and more, only it’s not as hot or rapid as it is in the greenhouse
– thankfully! entalism is the theory that environment (in the general and social sense) plays a greater role than heredity in determining an individual's development.
"THE EARTH WE ABUSE AND LIVING THINGS WE KILL WILL IN THE END TAKE THIER REVENGE FOR IN EXPLOITING THIER PRESENCE WEARE DIMNISHING OUR FUTURE"