Environmental degradation, management, and conservation UPSC | Environmental Geography | Physical geography

What is the environment( परिवेश / वातावरण)?

The combination of surrounding things; both biotic and abiotic things is called the environment. 

The environment of humans is comprised of both natural and artificial surrounding things. It includes forests, lands, air, water, lights, many organisms, roads, houses, etc.

Functions of the environment:

There are four major functions of the environment:

  • It supplies both renewable and nonrenewable resources.
  • It Assimilates waste.
  • It sustains life by providing genetics and biodiversity.
  • It provides aesthetic services like scenery.

 Environmental Degradation:

The environment is able to perform these above four functions without any problems as long as the demand for resources is not exceeding the regeneration, and waste generation is not exceeding the assimilation capacity of the environment. These functions perform within the carrying capacity of the environment.

Environmental Degradation means degradation( quality downgrading) of physical components of the environment to such an extent that it can not be easily restored by the self-regulatory mechanism, and impacts the sustainability of plants, animals, and micro-organisms. 

The major effect of Environmental degradation are:

  • Water degradation
    • Depletion of groundwater and water scarcity; Water pollution.
    • Marine pollution
  • Soil Degradation
    • Soil degradation, desertification, and soil pollution.
  • Atmosphere degradation
    • Changes in the composition of the atmosphere and Air pollution.
    • Climate change and global warming
    • Unusual cyclones and natural hazard
  • Biosphere degradation
    • Loss of biodiversity.

Air pollution:

  • Primary air pollutants are Carbon dioxide, carbon mono oxide, hydrocarbon, Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, methane, ozone, etc. Primary air pollutants are directly released into the environment due to human or natural activities.
  • Secondary air pollutants are Sulphuric acid, Peroxy acetyl nitrate(PAN), nitric acid( HNO3), and smog( the mixture of smoke and fog). Secondary pollutants are produced as the result of the chemical reaction of primary pollutants and atmospheric conditions.
  • Air pollution cause damage to plants, animal, monuments, and human health.

Impact of air pollution:

  • Acid rain
  • Atmospheric inversion
  • Global warming
  • Climate change
  • Smog
  • Ozone depletion
  • Health problems of humans.

Environmental Degradation may be caused by natural or human-induced; 

Some natural factors for environmental degradation are:

  • Epidemics
  • Natural extinction of particular species
  • Forest fire
  • Volcanic eruptions
  • Cyclone
  • Flood and drought
  • Landslides

Human-induced factors are:

  • Man-induced earthquakes, forest fires, and landslides.
  • Chemical and nuclear hazard


Environmental Management:

Environmental Management means making, executing, monitoring, reporting, and reviewing environmental policies through a technological revolution.

The following are objectives of environmental management:

  • Identify the environmental issue.
  • Finding the solutions for long and short terms.
  • Make a sustainable practice.
  • Behavioral changes
  • Minimize the natural hazard

The following are the main principles of environmental management;

  • Conservation and protection of Environment resources at all levels.
  • Upgradation of technology for efficient use of resources.
  • Equity, growth, and sustainability
  • Decentralization and people participation


Conservation method of the environment:

The following are conservation methods for the environment:

  • Forest conservation
  • Soil conservation
  • Stoping the habitat fragmentation
  • Checking desertification
  • Checking floods and drought
  • Controlling the pollution including nuclear waste
Try to solve the following questions:
  •  Explain the impact of economic development on environmental degradation in India. ( UPSC 2016,200 words, 15 marks)

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