Chapter 3 Environment and Society

Question 1.
Describe in your own words what you understand by the term ‘ecology’.
Answer:

  • All societies have an ecological basis. The term ‘ecology’ denotes the web of physical and biological systems and processes of which humans are one element.
  • Mountains and rivers, plains and oceans, and the flora and fauna that they support, are a part of ecology.
  • The ecology of a place is also affected by the interaction between its geography and hydrology. For example, the plant and animal life unique to a desert is adapted to its scarce rainfall, rocky or sandy soils, and extreme temperatures.
  • Ecological factors limit and shape how human beings can live in any particular place.

Question 2.
Why is ecology not limited only to the forces of nature?
Answer:

  • Ecology has been modified by human action. It appears to be a natural feature of the environment. For example, the situation of aridity and flood is often produced by human intervention.
  • Deforestation in the upper catchment of a river may make the river more flood- prone.
  • Climate change brought about by global warming is another instance of the widespread impact of human activity on nature.
  • Over time, it is often difficult to separate and distinguish between the natural and human factors in ecological change.
  • There are other ecological elements around us that are obviously human-made.
  • An agricultural farm with its soil and water conservation works, its cultivated plants and domesticated animals, its inputs of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, is clearly a human transformation of nature.
  • The built environment of a city, made from concrete, cement, brick, stone, glass and tar, uses natural resources but is very much a human artifact.

Question 3.
Describe the two-way process by which ‘social environments’ emerge.
Answer:

  • Social environment emerges from the interaction between biophysical ecology and human interventions.
  • This is a two-way process just as nature shapes society, society shapes nature. For instance, the fertile soil of the Indo-Gangetic floodplain enables intensive agriculture. Its high productivity allows dense population settlements and generates enough surpluses to support other, non-agricultural activities, giving rise to complex hierarchical societies and states.
  • In contrast, the desert of Rajasthan can only support pastoralists who move from place to place in order to keep their livestock supplied with fodder.
  • These are instances of ecology shaping the forms of human life and culture.
  • On the other hand, the social organization of capitalism has shaped nature across the world.
  • Private automobile is one instance of a capitalist commodity that has transformed lives and landscapes. Air pollution and congestion in cities, regional conflicts and wars over oil, and global warming are just a few of the environmental effects of cars.

Question 4.
Why and how does social organisation shape the relationship between the environment and society?
Answer:

  • The interaction between environment and society is shaped by social organization. :
  • Property relations determine how and by whom natural resources can be used. For instance, if forests are owned by the government, it will have the power to decide whether it should lease them to timber companies or allow villagers to collect forest produce.
  • Private ownership of land and water sources will affect whether others can have access to these resources and on what terms and conditions.
  • Ownership and control over resources is also related to the division of labour in the production process.
  • Landless labourers and women will have a different relationship with natural resources than men.
  • Social organization influences how different social groups relate to their environment.
  • Different relationships between environment and society also reflect different social values and norms, as well as knowledge systems.
  • The values underlying capitalism have supported the commodification of nature, turning it into objects that can be bought and sold for profit. For instance, the multiple cultural meanings of a river – its ecological, utilitarian, spiritual, and aesthetic significance, are stripped down to a single set of calculations about profit and loss from the sale of water for an entrepreneur.
  • Socialist values of equality and justice have led to the seizure of lands from large landlords and their redistribution among landless peasants in a number of countries.
  • Religious values have led some social groups to protect and conserve sacred groves and species and others to believe that they have divine sanction to change the environment to suit their needs.

Question 5.
Why is environmental management a complex and huge task for society?
Answer:

  • Environmental management is, however, a very difficult task.
  • Difficult process to predict and control them.
  • Human relations with the environment have become increasingly complex.
  • With the spread of industrialisation, resource extraction has expanded and accelerated, affecting ecosystems in unprecedented ways.
  • Complex industrial technologies and modes of organization require sophisticated management systems which are often fragile and vulnerable to error.
  • We live in risk societies using technologies and products that we do not fully grasp.
  • The occurrence of nuclear disasters like Chernobyl, industrial accidents like Bhopal, and Mad Cow disease in Europe shows the dangers inherent in industrial environments.

Question 6.
What are some of the important forms of pollution related environmental hazards?
Answer:

  • Air pollution is considered to be a major environmental problem in urban and rural areas, causing respiratory and other problems which result in serious illness and death.
  • The sources of air pollution include emissions from industries and vehicles, as well as the burning of wood and coal for domestic use.
  • Indoor pollution from cooking fires is also a serious source of risk. This is particularly true of rural homes where wood fires using green or poorly burning wood, badly designed fireplaces (chulhas), and poor ventilation combine to put village women at serious risk because they do the cooking.
  • The World Health Organisation has estimated that almost 600,000 people died due to (cumulative) indoor pollution related causes in India in 1998, almost 500,000 of them in rural areas.
  • Water pollution is also a very serious issue affecting surface as well as groundwater.
  • Major sources include not only domestic sewage and factory effluents but also the run-off from farms where large amounts of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides are used.
  • The pollution of rivers and water bodies is a particularly important problem.

Cities also suffer from noise pollution, which has been the subject of court orders in many cities. Sources include amplified loudspeakers used at religious and cultural events, political campaigns, vehicle horns and traffic, and construction work.

Question 7.
What are the major environmental issues associated with resource depletion?
Answer:

  • Resource depletion i.e., using up non-renewable natural resources is one of the most serious environmental problems.
  • The rapid decline in groundwater levels is an acute problem all over India, especially in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Rivers have also been dammed and diverted, causing irreversible damage to the ecology of water basins.
  • Many water bodies in urban areas have been filled up and built upon, destroying the natural drainage of the landscape.
  • Like groundwater, topsoil too is created over thousands of years. This agricultural resource, too, is being destroyed due to poor environmental management leading to erosion, water-logging and salinization.
  • The production of bricks for building houses is another reason for the loss of topsoil.
  • Biodiversity habitats such as forests, grasslands and wetlands are the other major resources facing rapid depletion, largely due to the expansion of areas under agriculture.

Question 8.
Explain why environmental problems are simultaneously social problems.
Answer:

  • Environmental problems affect different groups.
  • Social status and power determine the extent to which people can insulate themselves from environmental crises or overcome it.
  • In Kutch, Gujarat, where water is scarce, richer farmers have invested in deep bore tubewells to tap groundwater to irrigate their fields and grow cash crops. When the rain fails, the earthen wells of the poorer villagers run dry and they do not even have water to drink.
  • At such times the moist green fields of the rich farmers seem to mock them. Certain environmental concerns sometimes appear to be universal concerns, not particular to specific social groups.
  • A sociological analysis shows how public priorities are set and how they are pursued may not be universally beneficial. Securing the public interest may actually serve the interests of politically and economically powerful groups, or hurt the interests of the poor and politically weak.

Question 9.
What is meant by social ecology?
Answer:

  • The School of Social Ecology points out that social relations, in particular the organization of property and production, shapes environmental perceptions and practices.
  • Different social groups stand in different relationships to the environment and approach it differently.
  • The Forest Department geared to maximizing revenues from supplying large volumes of bamboo to the paper industry will view and use a forest very differently from an artisan who harvests bamboo to make baskets. Their varied interests and ideologies generate environmental conflicts. Environmental crises have their roots in social inequality.
  • Addressing environmental problems require changing environment society relations, and this in turn requires efforts to change relations between different social groups-men and women, urban and rural people, landlords and labourers.
  • Changed social relations will give rise to different knowledge systems and modes of managing the environment.

Question 10.
Describe some environment related conflicts that you know or have read about. (Other than the examples in the text.)
Answer:
For self-attempt.

Extra Questions

very Short Answer Type Questions

Question 1.
What is meant by ecology?
Answer:
Ecology is the study of relationship between living things and their environment which includes biological and geographical conditions.
Mountains, rivers, flora and fauna are parts of ecology.

Question 2.
What is environment?
Answer:
Everything which surrounds us is called environment. It includes both biological and geographical conditions.
It is total web of life which includes physical characteristics of a particular region as well as plants and animals.

Question 3.
What is cultural environment?
Answer:
Man made environment is known as cultural environment.
Traditions, folkways, language, beliefs, art and literature, social values are part of cultural environment.

Question 4.
What is social ecology?
Answer:
It refers to the branch of general ecology. The interrelationship of biological, physical and cultural features of a region is the domain of social ecology.
Social ecology has four aspects i.e. population, environment, technology and social organisations.

Question 5.
What is urban ecology?
Answer:
It is related to the study of urban areas, cities and towns. Urban ecology deals with the relationship between man and environment of cities and towns.

Question 6.
What is the meaning of resources depletion?
Answer:
Excessive usage of non-renewable natural resources are called resources depletion. It is limited e.g. Mineral, coal, natural gas, petroleum etc. The next generation will be deprived from these resources.

Question 7.
What is deforestation?
Answer:
The process of cutting trees gradually reduce the forest land. The cleared land is used by people for so called development i.e., industrialization and housing. The whole process is known as deforestation.

Question 8.
State causes and effects of air pollution.
Answer:
Air pollution is caused due to emission of vehicles and industries. It occurs due to burning of wood and coal in rural houses.
This polluted air we inhale through lungs which cause respiratory problems, cancer, chronic bronchitis and asthma like serious health hazards.

Question 9.
Define Green house.
Answer:
It is a covered structure for protecting plants from extremes of climate, usually from excessive cold. Green house maintains a warmer temperature inside as compared to the outside temperature.

Question 10.
What is eco system?
Answer:
Human beings, animals and plants are living components of universe.
The environment is inorganic. Non-living component of this system includes heat, energy, land, water bodies, temperature, gases etc.
Eco system is interrelationship of these two components.

Short Answer Type Questions

Question 1.
What is global warming?
Answer:
Continuous increase in the temperature of universe because of green house effect is known as global warming.
Green house effect means release of particular gases like carbon dioxide, methane etc. It is influenced by trapping the sun’s heat and allowing to dissipate. This phenomena causes gradual but significant rise in global temperature.
beings. Therefore, many ways are evolved for the development of the relationship between needs and environment.
Green house is a structure which has natural covering. This covering protects flora and fauna from extreme climate.

Question 2.
What is water pollution? How it gets polluted?
Answer:
Water pollution means contamination of water which occurs due to:

  • throwing industrial waste in the rivers.
  • industrial hot water drained in the rivers.
  • draining used domestic water in the rivers.
  • leakage of crude oil in the ocean.
  • water pollution affects surface as well as ground water which may lead to typhoid fever, hepatitis, cholera, diarrhoea etc.

Question 3.
State main causes of soil pollution.
Answer:

  • Industrial waste drains out in the agricultural fields.
  • Industrial and domestic garbage and sewage from cities and towns go into the field.
  • Industrial smoke which contains hazardous elements is a significant cause of soil pollution.
  • To get good crops, farmers are using excessive chemicals and pesticides. It is causing soil pollution.

Question 4.
State major effects of global warming.
Answer:

  • Rise in temperature may cause frequent environmental hazards like storms.
  • Global warming may lead to loss of biological diversity and natural resources.
  • Increase in temperature may melt the glaciers which may cause further rise in sea level. It may become a threat to many island countries.
  • It may have hazardous effects on rainfall and monsoon patterns.

Question 5.
How can cities be classified keeping the “Internal structure” in mind?
Answer:
On the basis of “internal structure” we can classify them under the following:

  • The concentric zone theory.
  • The sector theory.
  • The multiple nuclei theory.

Question 6.
What do you mean by renewable resources?
Answer:
These are natural resources of energy which are renewable. The main renewable resources are solar energy, water and wind energy. These are very important in our day to day life. The depletion of these resources may cause major environmental hazards.

Long Answer Type Questions

Question 1.
Elaborate three aspects of human ecology seen in human society.
Answer:
Three aspects of human society are as follows:

  • Population: Human beings are dependent on the geographic environment for air, water and food. These things are important for the survival of human beings. Therefore, many ways are evolved for the development of the relationship between needs and environment.
  • Environment: The geographic environment is explored for the requirements of air, water and food. There is a distinct set of relationships that exist with the physical environment.
  • Technology: The improvement in technology makes the relationship strong. The changes in technology also bring about changes in social life. Technology is the means by which adaptation to the environment takes place.

Question 2.
Why are environmental problems treated as social problems?
Answer:

  • Social ecology emphasises that social relations shape environmental perceptions and practices e.g. the artisans may be interested in bamboo forest for making baskets but forest department may be interested in supplying large amount of bamboo to the paper industry.
  • Environmental crisis arises from social issues. On the one hand, in metropolitan cities we enjoy water parks, Ice skating, malls etc. On the other side in rural areas, there is acute shortage of water and electricity.
  • In cities people maintain their houses, gardens and wash cars using excess of water whereas in slums people are deprived of water.
  • Economic, social and health hazards may occur due to environmental disasters like Kedamath, Tsunami and Jammu and Kashmir floods. Such disaster leads to extreme poverty.

Question 3.
What is Sustainable Development?
Answer:

  • Sustainable Development means development that meets the needs of the present without comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Economic growth and modernisation as a means not only satisfy basic material needs, but also provide resources essential to improve quality of life, e.g., access to healthcare and education.
  • However most forms of economic growth cause harm to natural resources and generate waste or pollution which jeopardizes growth for future generations.
  • The philosophy of sustainable development attempts to resolve this dilemma by insisting that decisions taken at every level throughout society should have due regard to their possible environmental consequences.
  • In this way the right kind of economic growth based on biodiversity, the control of environmentally damaging activity, and replenishment or to fill up the renewable resources such as forests is generated and this can protect or even enhance the natural environment.
  • It is often difficult for governments (particularly those who are accountable to electorates over short term period such as five years or so) to accept the political consequences of promoting sustainable development, e.g., by imposing tolls or fines for the use of cars in cities.

Chapter 3 Environment and Society