Study Environmental Science, and be an agent of change.
Are you worried about the continuous felling of trees, and do you obsess over the effects of physical, chemical and biological conditions of the environment on organisms?
You might be interested in studying Environmental Science, an interdisciplinary field, which contains elements from the field of medicine and natural history, biology, social science and humanities. This subject also deals with the impact of humans on the environment.
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The field deals with critical issues that affect all living beings on this planet. Topics like sustainable ways of living, the behaviour of various organisms in their natural habitats, the spread of awareness and education amongst the population about environmental problems and the optimum use of natural resources, all come under its umbrella.
Environmental Science also includes environmental studies and environmental engineering.
The former uses social sciences to understand human relationship dynamics, perceptions and policies towards the environment. The latter focuses on using design and technology to improve the quality of our environment holistically.
An environmental scientist never has a dull day. One day might be spent understanding the earth’s processes, and another day may be spent evaluating alternative sources of energy, pondering pollution control, overlooking natural resource allocation and calculating the effects of global climate change.
Environmental Science as a discipline is vital because uncontrolled urbanisation and industrialisation have badly disturbed and skewed our ecological balance. Sure, we have experienced growth and development, but it has mostly been unsustainable.
While this temporary growth may seem beneficial initially, it can cause more harm than good in the long run. Over time, the mounting realisation and pressure to protect and conserve our environment has put a lot of responsibility on environmental scientists, who look to implement environmental-friendly development processes.
Awareness has increased over the recent past, explained by the various conservation efforts that humans have started adopting to save the planet. However, it is not easy to undo the staggering amount of pollution and damage already done. Environmental scientists look to mitigate the harmful effects of pollution by using sustainable methods.
For this, they work on understanding essential processes like energy systems, pollution control and mitigation, natural resource management and the effects of global climate change.
The multi-disciplinary nature of Environmental Science requires an in-depth knowledge of its various facets. This is because graduates of the field find work in multiple departments and organisations that deal with social development, forest and wildlife management, pollution control boards, urban planning and development, agriculture, and water resources.
As an environmental scientist in India, you would need to address several issues. The recent Delhi smog caused by air pollution, trash and garbage lying in the open without segregation, dirty rivers and canals with water unfit for life, steady deforestation and excessive amounts of noise pollution are only some of the problems that you will be dealing with.
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India is blessed with abundant natural flora and fauna, but ambitious urban development has caused environmental degradation, and the current situation is quite unnerving.
Human-animal conflicts are on the rise, even in dense urban areas like Mumbai, where leopards stray into settlements on the fringes of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
The country is losing 1.5 million hectares of forest cover each year, with the reforestation rate being a paltry 0.93%. India’s carbon emissions rose by 5% in 2016, according to The Guardian.
The rapid rate of population growth, resource depletion, unplanned urbanisation, greenhouse emissions, energy usage and biodiversity loss, might soon catch up, and by the year 2047, when India is the most populous nation, it might just be uninhabitable.
But, there is hope, as India has pledged to reduce its emission intensity by 30% by 2030. The Indian Government also plans to sell only electric cars starting that same year. Policies are being tailored to make buildings green, use less water, optimise energy, conserve natural resources and generate less waste, thus providing a healthier living space for occupants.
TERI University, located in New Delhi offers a wide range of masters and doctoral courses in sustainable development and environmental studies. Now, West Bengal is all set to open a university dedicated to studying the environment. The West Bengal Assembly, on 30th November 2017, passed the West Bengal Green University Bill, 2017, to set up an environmental university at Hooghly district.
Those who wish to work towards the betterment of our planet can enrol in a course that exclusively deals with conservation. The full gamut of topics under the umbrella of environmental protection requires substantial study. In-depth knowledge of the environment and its dynamics is necessary to save it.
Implementing these policies and changes is not easy. The population needs to be actively interested and involved in conservation. Being one of the fastest growing nations, India has a great future, but, right now, given the environment, the situation can go both ways.
Implementing sustainable practices to make sure we leave a better planet for the future generation is the need of the hour. The environment that we live in is a direct reflection of our attitude towards it. It only makes sense to join hands and work together for a brighter and secure future.