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What is Environment?

Environment- Meaning, Components

Meaning and Definition of Environment-

The term environment has been derived from a French word “Environia” means to surround. It refers to both abiotic (physical or non-living) and biotic (living) environment. The word environment means surroundings, in which organisms live. Environment and the organisms are two dynamic and complex component of nature. Environment regulates the life of the organisms including human beings. Human beings interact with the environment more vigorously than other living beings. Ordinarily environment refers to the materials and forces that surrounds the living organism.

Environment is the sum total of conditions that surrounds us at a given point of time and space. It is comprised of the interacting systems of physical, biological and cultural elements which are interlinked both individually and collectively. Environment is the sum total of conditions in which an organism has to survive or maintain its life process. It influences the growth and development of living forms.

In other words environment refers to those surroundings that surrounds living beings from all sides and affect their lives in too. It consists of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. It’s chief components are soil, water, air, organisms and solar energy. It has provided us all the resources for leading a comfortable life.

  1. According to P. Gisbert “Environment is anything immediately surrounding an object and exerting a direct influence on it.”
  2. According to E. J. Ross “Environment is an external force which influences us.”

Thus, environment refers to anything that is immediately surrounding an object and exerting a direct influence on it. Our environment refers to those thing or agencies which though distinct from us, affect our life or activity. The environment by which man is surrounded and affected by factors which may be natural, artificial, social, biological and psychological.

Components of Environment-

Now a days the word environment is often being used by almost all people around us, on television and in newspapers. Every one is speaking about the protection and pre-serration of environment. Global summits are being held regularly to discuss environmental issues. During the last hundred years, the mutual relationship among environment, social organization and culture has been discussed in sociology, anthropology and geography. All this shows the increasing importance of environment. Besides, it is a fact that life is tied with the environment.

Social sciences have borrowed the concept of ecology from biology. As a branch of biology, ecology is the study of the relationship between living beings and their environment. Sociology has been greatly influenced by biology. Sociology also studies the relationship between man and environment through ecology. Field of study of human ecology in sociology is centered around man and his environment.

The credit of beginning the study of human ecology in the field of sociology goes to Park and Burgess. There exists a close relationship between man and environment. On the one hand man is born in environment and establishes harmony with environment. On the other hand man tires to control his environment and change it according to his requirements. Hence it requires an understanding of the environment of which man is a part.

Environment mainly consists of atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere and biosphere. But it can be roughly divided into two types such as (a) Micro environment and (b) Macro environment. It can also be divided into two other types such as (c) Physical and (d) biotic environment.

  1. Micro environment refers to the immediate local surrounding of the organism.
  2. Macro environment refers to all the physical and biotic conditions that surround the organism externally.
  3. Physical environment refers to all abiotic factors or conditions like temperature, light, rainfall, soil, minerals etc. It comprises of atmosphere, lithosphere and hydrosphere.
  4. Biotic environment includes all biotic factors or living forms like plants, animals, Micro-organisms.

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