Environment science teaches that all organisms have an impact on their surroundings. It recognizes development of compromise between different geographic regions. Environmental decisions are therefore often compromising.
As discussed, environment means surroundings. It is a system in which various living beings like animals including man, birds, insects, rodents, micro organisms like algae, fungi, protozoa and non-living beings like the soil, the water and the air are interrelated in life sustaining system.
It is a complex web and man occupies a very tiny space in it. Man lives in two environments-one is natural environment of water, air, soils, hills, trees and other living beings etc while the other environment is his social environment. It is an artificial environment, a man-made- ecosystem.
This environment is created himself alone by using science, technology, religion and politics. Both the environments are lively and lovely, beautiful and bountiful. But some times man meddles (fight) too much with Mother Earth to extract much more than what he deserves.
Then she becomes cruel, hostile and devastating. Environment governs everything that earth provides to people. So, environmental problems are people’s problems.
These problems occur due to unrestricted use of natural resources, which some people feel are justified, result in a diminished environment for other in the region. For instance insecticides have been applied to crops since they were introduced in the mid’ 40s to increase production, prevent pests from devouring (eating) food for people and to control disease. But in the years followed, they have caused more damage to the public health and the environment than the benefits gained from them.
There is now growing body of scientific evidence indicating that pesticides provide only a short term solution to pests and increased agricultural productivity. The two major areas of concern in pesticide use are the crop residues that contain the poison and the phenomenon of resistance that makes insects immune to pesticides.
The residues carry not only the portion that kills insects but also the substances that cause cancer, birth defects and many other ailments after contaminating the air, land and water. The tragedy here is that insecticides do not know when to stop killing.
Environmental decision making process occur due to the uses of natural resources. Economic consideration is the backbone of environmental decisions.
This is so because a group of people receive value from the natural resources when used whereas another group perceives an economic loss because a use from natural resources has been withdrawn.
So a conflict is created between two groups. In other words cold war between environmentalists object the use of insecticides and pesticides as well as falling of trees for the construction projects but economists and chemists do not agree to this proposal.
Environmentalists want to protect environment because all these activities affect ecology. They call it mismanagement of resources done in the form of large- scale deforestation, unplanned discharge of residual wastes, and handling of toxic chemicals, indiscriminate construction and expansion of settlement activities because they collectively pose threat to the environment.
Now the question arises how this dispute should be settled. Environmental decision makers give their views in the following manner.
(i) Some comment that economic considerations should not be given any importance whereas other argues that economic considerations can resolve it.
(ii) Some argue that Government -and authorities should take all necessary measures for protecting quality of environment, by laying down standards for discharge of environmental degradation.
(iii) Some are against these changes; others identify that change must occur.
Now what to do? What opinions should be selected and what should not be. With all these issues in view, compromise is the only way to resolve the conflicts. The social institutions and economic evaluators play an important role in this direction.
The field of environmental science seeks to find the middle path and ground. The environmental sciences teach the impact on environment when natural resources are converted into goods.
It is, therefore, argued and suggested that before natural resources are converted into artifacts (goods) that is when deforestation is exercised for making diversified use of wood and elephants are killed to get ivory, what impacts they will have upon environment should not be forgotten.
Environmental impacts while undertaking River Valley Projects in no way less important because this action lead to degradation of catchment areas, rehabilitation of those who are affected by environmental changes, increase in water borne diseases, reservoir inducing seismicity, and causing loss of flora and fauna.
To minimize these changes some standards are framed. International standard organization has framed some standards for better environmental management. India has also adopted ISO 14000 which incorporate series of management standards. The components of ISO 14000 are as follow:
(i) Environmental Management System
It is a system for maintaining sustainable development in the environment. Its aims are recognizing impacts and risks of environmental degradation and developing all environmental control policies so that environmental performance is improved.
(ii) Environmental Auditing
Its aim is maintaining programmes and procedures for periodic EMS (environmental management system) audits. Auditing is done to know whether or not the environmental management system conforms to the environmental management standards.
(iii) Environmental Performance Evaluation
ISO 14000 is applicable to all types and sizes of organizations. Its applicability is traceable at Irrigation Department, Forest, Extraction of Oil and Natural Gas and in various industrial units. Any organization where natures of activity and service have direct and indirect effect on environment can adopt these standards.
The success of this system depends on commitment from all levels. EPE (environmental performance evaluation) unit try to achieve standards as per ISO standards after examination and evaluation.
(iv) Environmental Labeling
It ensures conformance with stated environmental policy and make a self determining declaration of conformance with the standard.
(v) Life-cycle Assessment
Under this the organization establishes and maintains documented procedures to monitor key characteristics of its operations and activities that can have significant impact on the environment.
(vi) Environmental Aspects on Product Standards
It includes element of an organization’s activities, product or services which can interact with environ ment.