Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ecology and ecological problems

The object of the ecology is to study the connection between the plants and animals with their physical and biological environment. Ecology has with time developed as the separate science resulting in more than just a branch of biology. To completely understand the ecology we first have to set the difference between physical and biological environment.

Term "physical environment" consists of light and heat, atmosphere, water, wind, oxygen, carbon monoxide and soil's ingredients, while biological environment consists of plants and animals. The goal of ecology is not just the study of the different living organisms, but also of environment where these organisms live, and all factors that might have influence or which have influenced on life of living organisms in their natural environment. From its goal it can be clearly seen that ecology is very complex and comprehensive scientific discipline. Since ecology is very complex discipline it requires some other fields of science like hydrology, climatology, oceanography, chemistry, geology, etc, to be completely understandable and comprehensible.

Ecological problems of the modern world are becoming more and more public and this is the reason why ecology has become very much "public term" despite of its originally scientific character. The term "ecology" was used for the first time in 1866 by German biologist Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, and has its root in Greek word „oikos“ (house) which is completely exact root as of the word economy which would imply studying of economy in nature. Modern ecology is generally connected with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution and natural selection where Darwin pointed the firm connection between animals and their natural habitats. But this firm connection often gets weakened because many people think that Earth has just one purpose, namely to satisfy their needs. Human plans usually do not include concern for lives of many plants and animals that lived in their habitats thousands of years before humans. Unfortunately homocentric system by which all natural goods are used just for human exploit is still very much present in world's philosophy, although it has to be said that ecocentric system based on ecosystem has (thankfully) rising number of supporters as well. The lack of concern for our planet is the main reason why there are today so many endangered species and why pollution can be seen in all corners of the world.

The biggest pollutions on our planet are the result of fossil fuels use. Modern society is simply unthinkable without gasoline, oil, and coal, as they are dominating industrial world. The governments of rich states instead turning to alternative energy resources like wind energy, sun energy and geothermal energy are still more focused on decreasing the pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels rather than search for acceptable alternatives. Also, alternative energy resources are only used in rich countries in order to decrease the pollution in their own lands. To make things even worse, rich countries, more often than not, transfer their own dirty industries to poor countries that do not have nor the appropriate knowledge nor the means to even think about ecology, and are pretty much dependent on these obsolete technologies. People still do not have so much needed ecological conscience and do not see that they are only ones responsible for salvation of our planet. It is probably too painful to admit our own mistakes and try to fix them before it is too late. Some small steps have been already done but it will take much more these steps on global level in order to make the difference.

Poor countries will be a difficult task though. It is very difficult, if not impossible to expect developed ecological conscience from population of poor countries as long as their primary goal is how to survive. In situations like this ecology is probably last thing they think of, and this has to change. However this condition will not end if rich countries will continue to solve only their own ecological problems ignoring terrible condition in poor countries. In fact, one gigantic global action is the thing we need to solve ecological problems because individual actions do not have enough impact to be sufficient on global level. To succeed, we do not need some extreme strategy to return the world in the time before James Watt and the first industrial revolution, giving away all the benefits of modern technology. On the contrary, our modern technologies should be used on the way that would enable peaceful coexistence between ecology and industry, in which the emphasis should be primarily set on the use of energy resources that have the lowest negative impact on the environment. These renewable energy resources are for instance wind, water and sun.

Current modern technologies could be wisely used to prevent ecological disasters, endangering of animal species, and to entire development of ecosystem, and all we have to do is to turn technologies in these directions. Humanity must become now more than ever before dedicated to preservation of their natural habitats. And we have only one natural habitat and this is our planet Earth. Earth has lately become surrounded with so many different ecological problems, of which some (like global warming) threaten with future catastrophic consequences.
Ecological problems also require appropriate legislative support that should ban modern technologies that have negative impact on environment, and only allow those technologies that do not have, or have only minimum of negative impact on the environment. Passive observation is not sufficient, especially now when we have become witnesses of so many ecological disasters.

It is really time for one global action, and who knows maybe this is our only chance to save Earth. So what are we waiting for?

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