Environment refers to anything that surrounds us. The environment does not necessarily include human beings. However, the environment can be influenced by human activities and, therefore, human beings. An environment is considered to be ‘healthy’ when it promotes the conservation of life and prevents environmental pollution. It is essential that the human activities around us are in harmony with the environment.
The natural environment encompasses all living things and non-living objects occurring naturally, which means outside of human existence. The word environment is often used to describe the entire Earth or any specific regions of the Earth. It can also be used in relation to a specific region of earth such as oceans, landmasses, seas, lakes, and rivers, or in a global sense such as the atmosphere, land species, and the ozone layer. The word ‘ecology’ comes from the Greek words ekologos (ordering) and eco (laboratory). It refers to the study of the interactions between living things and their environment.
Human activities are usually considered to be in conflict with the environment. This is because human beings use the environment to live and make products that are in direct competition with other living things and their natural environments. The environment also includes all the air, water, and soil within the earth’s surface, and these all interact with each other and with other non-human organisms, and with the earth itself. Humans have an enormous effect on the environment. It has been estimated that there are approximately one hundred billion barrels of oil stored in the North Sea alone!
There are a wide variety of different natural disasters that humans impact on the environment, although natural disasters are generally thought of as occurring in the natural world. These include hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami, tornadoes, and flooding. Flooding is the result of massive melting of land ice caused by the evaporation of rainwater, and this can happen even when the weather is mild. Other types of natural disasters include earthquake, tsunami, and volcano eruption. All of these events have an enormous effect on the environment, as the earth’s surfaces are damaged and filled with waste products and hazardous materials.
The environment also refers to human interaction. Human beings affect the environment through the things they create and through the products they manufacture. It has been estimated that a large number of the non-renewable resources are used by human beings simply for the sake of human life and economic gain. Examples of these non-renewable resources are petroleum, coal, timber, gas, agricultural produce, and radioactive elements.
There are two types of environment: a living environment and a non-renewable or non-biodegradable environment. The living environment refers to the earth’s physical environment, which includes the climate, landforms, and ecosystems; and the non-renewable or non-biodegradable environment refers to the materials generated by living organisms, including fossil fuels and other forms of biomass. The earth’s biosphere, the term given to all the living organisms on the earth, constitutes nearly ninety percent of the earth’s total living environment.