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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 33, New Delhi, July 31, 2021

Relationship of Ecology and Environment - Geographer’s concerns | Kalita & Barman

Friday 30 July 2021


by K. Kalita and R. Barman *

It has long been evident that there is a close relationship of human society and its activities with the modern concept of ecology-ecosystem in an area, region or a country or the globe as a whole. In the beginning, the term ecology or its equivalent one, such as oekologie coined by Ernst Haeckel in 1886, ethology and hexicology used respectively by I.G.S Hilaire and S.G. Mivart before Haeckel had their only strong based in biological sciences. Today the term ecology and its system called the ecosystem have been carrying broad meaning, scope, strength and application towards understanding the environmental components of biotic and abiotic nature and their processes ending in the resultant progressive pattern and impact in the areal or spatial context involving a man and his environment. As such, the ecology or ecosystem bears a great significance not only in understanding community or individual behavior, living organisms or their relationship with the natural resources, but also in sustainability of the environment, society, production system and other things which are always needed by plants, man and animals.

The biotic and abiotic components have always their deep interrelations and interactions both in the horizontal and vertical directions to create a characteristic ecosystem of a congenial environment. Different areas have their different ecosystems, even as their principles of patterns and processes are the same. For example, the tropical ecosystem, desert ecosystem, river valley ecosystem and hill ecosystem, etc., can best clarify the idea. As already mentioned that today’s ecology and ecosystem have a broad context of analysis, it can be argued that the terms have their strong functioning bases with spatial sciences like geography, anthropology and some others. The science of economics can also be included here, and therefore, in addition to natural ecology and ecosystem, there are also human ecology and some others, like social ecology and political ecology. In this context, who knows that there will not be looked some other ecologies or ecosystems in the future.

Ecology, in the domain of the environment involving in the environmental system having its bases, functions, approaches and applications in the men’s domain of society, habitat, and resource uses (especially the uses of environmental resources), etc., has its far-reaching impact on the domain of spatial sciences. In this sense, along with human ecology, ecological technology and ecological equilibrium have their own roles to play. All this has their existence in the environment as the need to think of the degree of transformation, preservation and conservation of the environment. The various components, including individuals of a community or a society, have their perceptible adjustments which can be analyzed in terms of a broad ecological domain. For example, primitive people even today eat wild fruits, roots and animals available in their habitat or near their habitat. They mostly live in jungles, hills or caves. Even they based their livelihood on nature’s endowment; they never destroy nature or ecology severely. Such nature can easily be restored. Of course, the primitive people in the past or present were/are not concerned about the preservation or conservation of nature. This was actually due to the limited need of food, shelter and clothing of the primitives. They never think of higher needs. At the same time, they do not know the methods of conservation or preservation either. But here the most important point is that nature itself quickly repair the damage caused by the primitives. Today, among the so-called civilized societies, thinking and things of nature have been quite different. Such societies are rampantly destroying the natural environment, affecting ecological imbalance, which creates many burning local and global environmental problems. In many cases, it is observed that the environment has become almost non-restorable or irreplaceable towards the welfare of the human society and the keeping of the sound production system. As the needs of man and society have increased more and more, man’s impact on nature and its resources grow in scope and strength because with the increase of needs, man has become more and more technology-oriented. As a result, varied ecological problems, both at the regional and localized dimensions, have cropped up. All these problems have untimely led to more and more destruction and deterioration of sustainability of ecosystems, human society and resource conditions. The human ecology, social ecology, etc., has all been taking varying shapes as time advances with more and more diminution of nature and its resources. It has now been intricately observed by serious people that different kinds of problems and crises arising right from land, water and air to economic regimes have been haunting the fate of nature and man. Many of these problems and crisis have appeared as burning issues which have now invited technological know-how, meetings and programmes to eliminate and if not, to mitigate or ameliorate the intensity of the problems. Following this, efforts and investigations have, of late, come from societies, including spatial scientist like geographers, thinkers, planners, engineers, and technocrats, etc., in order to achieve the goal of having environmentally significant sound pattern and processes.

Researchers have revealed that ecological aspects of problems and crises have arisen from the disturbance of balance in nature almost everywhere in the world. It is now seen that problems and the crisis, even in a small area, have global links and as such they have been a matter of international concern because the area is a part of the global, and the area itself or the country to which the area belongs cannot be separated from similar events of the globe. The global principles and realization penetrating into the regional or local area context in the way of befitting efforts and action may augment the processes of obtaining balanced coexistence of man with nature in the area or the region. This can rightly add contribution towards the production, preservation and right transformation in the environment or parts of the broad ecosystem. The developed countries and even some developing countries have felt serious concern for sound ecosystem and the environment, and it is seen that they have been able to attain great success also. Many a geographer of these countries along with others have come forward to formulate ecology and environment-oriented steps and strategies to mitigate the problems and crisis and related to human’s natural environment. The ecology and environment-oriented approach in geographical investigation marks the subject to stand as a part of useful and effective spatial science dealing with deep analysis of spatial facts and complexes on the one hand and their transformation, protection, preservation and conservation in the right direction of man and society’s needs on the other.

Huge volumes of information and data on natural conditions and resources gathered by using the modern science and technology can easily and effectively be helped in solving various problems of environmental significance. Side by side the methodological investigation and analysis of the problems, there is the need for the bio-ecological (anthropogenic) monitoring to provide services on systematic observation and control over the environment and its resources. The highest stage of environmental monitoring associated with biospherical monitoring designed to provide services and control over global changes of the entire environment (i.e., biosphere) must be dragged for a sound and coherent solution of the problems. To fulfill the need of bringing sound ecology and environment in the local, regional or global context, geographers of various specializations can participate and provide with steps and ways. Geographical researches into the goal-oriented transformation of the environment in the line of constructive research can help in this case immensely. The aim and objectives of social production best fitted with the environment, society and resources may furthermore enhance the fragrance and effectiveness of such researches. The harmonious development of economics with protection of the environment can progressively improve the environment in its quality and quantity. As there is commonness in themes, components and goals in respects of geography, ecology and environmental geographers, with the help of modern thinking and technology can best help to make a sustainably sound environment for the welfare of humanity.

* (Authors: Dr. K. Kalita , Associate Professor, Tinsukia College, Assam Email: kamaleshkalita[at]rediffmail.com | Dr. R. Barman, Professor (Rtd.), Gauhati University, Assam)

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