Scope means coverage, end aimed at purpose, intention, outlook, purview and sphere of observation.
The scope of environmental studies is vast and wide. Sky is its limit and ocean is its depth. What is not covered in environmental studies shall take years and years yet to think as how to cover. Studies reveal that during the past, few decades there has been fundamental change in the attitude of man towards environment. There was a time when environment meant only sanitation and health.
Today, the environment is conceived in its totality and a holistic approach is designed while planning a better quality of life stressing upon sustainable development.
Who will not agree with this fact that human activities have been changing with greater speed and velocity. Our number population-wise is increasing fast. In India the populations were only 34.7 crores in 1951 and today, are more than 100 crores.
This is the story of human population. What about animals and other organisms. Are they same? No not at all. On account of this reason human activities have been drastically changing the ecological balance of practically every component of the environment.
This makes the importance and scope of the study of environment wider in volume and deeper in depth. However, what mainly conversed in the study of environment is discussed below one by one; the details of which shall be ascertainable in the subsequent chapters for the convenience of readers.
(i) Environmental studies Teaches us deforestation and forest conservation
Increasing population, along with widespread poverty, has generated pressure on our natural resources. Of the 329 m ha. of the total land area in the country, it is estimated that about 174 m. ha. Is degraded, this consists of agricultural as well as non-agricultural lands and forest resources.
The forest resources are threatened due to overgrazing and other forms of exploitation, both for household and commercial needs, encroachments, unsustainable practices like unscientific cultivation and development activities.
This leads to increasing destruction and degradation of forests and tree lands. Environmental science teaches how forest can be conserved. National afforestation and Eco-development programmes provide methods of forest wealth conservation, because trees and plants are the life and blood of human civilization.
They have served and are serving man-kind in various ways from the days of yore (ancient times). Medha Patkar and Sunder Lai Bahuguna, the leader of the Chipko Movement, (a movement started to stop the cutting of forests) rightly pointed out that preservation of trees and plants alone can save the human species from environmental pollution.
The first and foremost advantage of forests is that they absorb carbon dioxide, provide water and control soil erosion. To save trees is to save civilization.
(ii) Environmental Studies teach us Diversified Ecologies
Conservation ecology deal with the application of ecological principles to the proper management of resources leading to sustained yields of useful resources to human welfare. Resource ecology deals with the renewable and non-renewable resources and their judicious management.
Pollution ecology deals with problems associated with the movements of pollutants in the environment, environmental deterioration and the maintenance of its cleanliness. System ecology deals with the analysis and modeling of ecological systems. Radiation ecology is concerned with radio-active substances, radiation and the environment. Paleoecology deals with organisms and their environment in the geological past.
Environmentalists teach disposal of the dead by burning. Provision of gas or electric crematoria has been made in all major town and cities. Planting of trees is an integral part of school and college education. No student should be given his degree or diploma unless he or she produces a certificate of having planted and nurtured at least ten or twenty trees during his/her student’s life.
We must understand the nature of human cells and the nature of plants cells which provide nourishment and around which animals and man have evolved. It is the quality of plant life on which the quality of human life depends.
Ecological health depends upon keeping the surface of earth rich in humus (rotten vegetation) and minerals so that it can provide a foundation of healthy plant and animal life. Ecological stability leads to good health prosperity and cultural stability.
When the trees are in plenty there is a natural cycle involving the trees and the soil. In the trees drop their leaves returning them to the earth where they decompose. A complex mixture
of bacteria and fungi inhabit the soil. These microbes play an extremely important role in the biochemistry of the soil.
It is a well known fact that after the deforestation, it is impossible for us to have plant food grown without the help of artificial fertilizers for the millions of people in our country and suffering from the consequences thereof.
The most important measures of population control is to grow more and more trees in the hills and foothills, plains and in clusters (groups) in the fields everywhere and every corner of the country on a war-footing. The symbolic rituals of getting a few trees planted by visiting dignitaries (VIPs) here and there, is of no use.