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Short introduction: People’s attention has been drawn to the environment as a theme in the recent past. Although the term “environment” has been in use for a long time, it has recently gained prominence. Environmental issues are now commonly discussed in almost all types of academic, administrative, commercial, and political discussions. At the moment, all forms of media are emphasising environmental issues. The preservation of the environment has become a goal and objective for all of us.
Environmental education has also been given the necessary importance in school and college curricula. The condition surrounding an organism or a community of organisms is referred to as the environment in a broad sense. All of the elements required for survival are present in such a condition. These components are both biotic and abiotic in nature. All plants and animals are biotic components. Abiotic elements include land, water, air, and all other nonliving elements. Through their interaction, these biotic and abiotic elements create a necessary condition or environment for life. In other words, every organism or community of organisms is dependent on the conditions that surround them. As a result, organisms are also components of their environment. Human beings are also organisms that are affected by their surroundings.
Textual questions and answers
1. Write in your own words the meaning of environment.
Answer: The condition surrounding an organism or a community of organisms is referred to as the environment in a broad sense. All of the elements required for survival are present in such a condition. These components are both biotic and abiotic in nature.
2. Mention some of the biotic and abiotic elements of the environment.
Answer: The living components of an environment, such as plants, animals, and microorganisms, are referred to as biotic factors. The non-living components of an environment are referred to as abiotic elements. Sunlight, temperature, wind, water, soil, and naturally occurring events such as storms, fires, and volcanic eruptions are examples of these.
3. Write the meaning of lithosphere.
Answer: The lithosphere is the earth’s land component made up of rocks, soils, minerals, and so on. The lithosphere encompasses all continents and contains mountains, hills, plateaus, plains, valleys, and coasts.
4. What are the features included in the hydrosphere?
Answer: The earth’s hydrosphere was formed by the seas and oceans. The hydrosphere covers roughly 71% of the earth’s surface. The hydrosphere includes rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water found throughout the continents. The hydrosphere’s status and change are determined by the lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere.
5. Write about the composition of the atmosphere.
Answer: The atmosphere is composed of a mix of several different gases like nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, argon etc.
6. Give an outline of the extent of the biosphere.
Answer: The biosphere encompasses the areas of the earth’s environment where life forms exist. The earth’s surface, down to a few metres below the earth’s surface, the seas and oceans, and the lower stratum of the atmosphere where birds and insects fly are all examples. This layer extends from heights of up to ten kilometres above sea level, where some birds fly, to ocean depths of more than eight kilometres, where the Puerto Rico trench is located. So far, 1.75 million plant and animal species have been identified in the biosphere. Human beings (Homo sapiens) are only one of these species.
7. Discuss briefly the relation among the four major components of the environment.
Answer: The earth’s environment is determined by four major spheres: the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. These spheres are linked together. The condition created by their interaction is referred to as the environment. According to the famous geographer Peter Haggett, the environment is the result of the interaction of land, water, air, and life. The earth’s environment is, in this sense, a vast and complicated system. Local and regional environments have been operating within such a vast system. That is, the environments of all localities are constituents of the vast global environmental system.
8. Mention the major causes of environmental change.
Answer: Some of the major causes of environmental changes are –
i. Pollution: Pollution is the process of contaminating the environment with harmful substances. Many man-made substances, if widely dispersed in the environment, may endanger the biotic world. Pollutants are the general term for such substances. Environmental pollutants include zinc, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and others. Pollution of the major elements of the environment-land, water, and air-may harm humans and other life forms for a variety of reasons. Currently, pollution of these three elements has caused serious problems in various parts of the world.
ii. Desertification: Desertification is a process that causes the productive areas of the tropical region to resemble a desert. Desertification, on the other hand, refers to the spread of deserts to their outskirts. For example, in the early 1970s, the environment of Africa’s Sahara desert became so dry that many animals died. People were also severely impacted. In general, a number of natural and human factors favour the desertification process.
iii. Global Warming: Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that has bounced off the earth’s surface, causing global warming. Normally, this radiation would escape into space, but pollutants, which can linger in the atmosphere for years or centuries, trap the heat and cause the planet to heat up. This is referred to as the greenhouse effect.
9. Explain the meaning of the environmental problems.
Answer: Environmental issues are problems with the planet’s systems (air, water, soil, and so on) that have arisen as a result of human interference or mistreatment of the planet. It should be noted here that environmental problems can be classified geographically into three categories: (A) local problems, (B) regional problems, and (C) global problems. Major environmental issues include ozone depletion, greenhouse effect and global warming, desertification, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and waste disposal.
10. Write geographical divisions of the environmental problems?
Answer: The environmental problems can be geographically divided into three different groups-
(a) Local problem
(b) Regional problems and
(c) Global problem
In terms of their genesis and spread, local problems may remain confined to small areas. Land pollution caused by a small-scale industry, water scarcity in winter due to wetland shallowing, bank erosion caused by a river in a locality, and so on are examples of such problems.
Some problems, on the other hand, maybe regional in nature. Some examples of regional environmental problems include the flood problem of the Brahmaputra or the Barak Valley, water pollution in a large industrial region, underground water shortage in an urban area, and soil erosion in a river basin. A regional problem may sometimes affect more than one country. Some environmental issues, on the other hand, are global in scope. Such issues have no geographical boundaries. For example, consider the issue of global warming. Because this issue is linked to the atmosphere, it has no bounds in terms of coverage. In addition to the atmosphere, its effects are felt in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Such a problem necessitates international cooperation.
11. What is a local environmental problem? Give examples.
Answer: In terms of their genesis and spread, local problems may remain confined to small areas. Land pollution caused by a small-scale industry, water scarcity in winter due to wetland shallowing, and bank erosion caused by a river in a locality are examples of such problems.
12. Give two examples of regional environmental problems.
Answer: Some examples of regional environmental problems include the flood problem of the Brahmaputra or the Barak Valley, as well as the problem of underground water shortage in urban areas such as Bangalore and Chennai.
13. Which problems are considered global environmental problems?
Answer: A global environment problem is one that does not have a geographical boundary and affects the entire world. For example, consider the issue of global warming. Because this issue is linked to the atmosphere, it has no bounds in terms of coverage. In addition to the atmosphere, its effects are felt in the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere.
14. Mention the major environmental problems of the world.
Answer: Environmental issues such as global warming, acid rain, air pollution, urban sprawl, waste disposal, ozone layer depletion, water pollution, climate change, and many others affect every human, animal, and nation on the planet and are thus regarded as major environmental problems of the world.
15. Give the meaning of the term pollution.
Answer: Pollution is defined as the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that results in negative change. Pollution can be in the form of chemicals or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, or pollutants, are either foreign substances/energies or naturally occurring contaminants.
16. What is water pollution? How does it occur?
Answer: When certain chemical substances, particles, microbes, or radiations are added to or passed through water, their natural state or quality is altered. Pollution is the process by which such changes occur in water.
Water is generally polluted when there are human settlements, industries, agriculture, and so on near water sources, where wastes mix with the water. Industrial and urban wastes pollute the water in rivers that flow through or alongside cities. The Ganga River, which flows through northern India, is a good example. Wastes generated in the towns, cities, and industries located on the river’s banks have been drained into the river for a long time, and as a result, the river’s water, which was once considered sacred, is now severely polluted. The water in rivers and wetlands near major industrial areas is also being polluted by the increasing proportion of acid in the water.
17. Write a short note on land pollution.
Answer: Land pollution is the deterioration (destruction) of the earth’s land surfaces caused by man’s activities and misuse of land resources, often directly or indirectly. It occurs when waste is not properly disposed of, or when humans dump chemicals onto the soil during agricultural practices in the form of pesticides, insecticides, and fertilisers. Mineral extraction (mining activities) has also contributed to the destruction of the earth’s surface.
Land pollution is primarily blamed on modern farming practices, expanding industries, and increasing deforestation. The modernization of agriculture encouraged the use of chemical fertiliser, irrigation, insecticides, and other agricultural chemicals on cropland. The use of chemical fertilisers alters the composition and properties of the soil. Similarly, the use of underground water in the fields has an impact on the natural properties of the soil. Furthermore, in addition to the targeted insects and weeds, the insecticides and weedicides used in the fields destroy beneficial microbes and other life forms. All of these pollute the environment by altering its natural properties.
18. Write about how the air is polluted.
Answer: The natural state of the atmosphere can be altered if certain solid, liquid, or gaseous substances are introduced into it through natural or human processes. When such a change harms the biotic and abiotic elements, the atmosphere is said to be polluted. The volcanic eruption is one of the most important natural factors that contribute to the pollution of the atmosphere. The air is polluted by the smoke, ashes, and gases that spew forth from the earth’s interior during an eruption. Forest fires pollute the atmosphere in some parts of the world.
Human activities are primarily responsible for polluting the atmosphere. Some of the major man-made factors that contribute to air pollution are the expansion of industries, urbanisation, increased vehicular traffic, and nuclear explosions. The increased use of fossil fuels has added harmful gases to the atmosphere such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxide (N02), hydrocarbon (HC), sulphur dioxide (S02), and others. Acid rain is one of the most serious consequences of atmospheric pollution. Such rains devastate forests and pollute wetlands’ water.
19. What is a desert? Give the definition of desertification.
Answer: Deserts are naturally found in specific regions of the world. Rainfall is scarce in the deserts, but evaporation is greater. As a result, the desert environment is dry. Deserts have a scarcity of natural vegetation. Desert and desertification are not synonymous terms. Desertification is a process that causes the productive areas of the tropical region to resemble a desert. Desertification, on the other hand, refers to the spread of deserts to their outskirts. Desertification reduces land productivity and causes desertification to spread to neighbouring and even distant lands. This means that this process aids in the spread of deserts and the conversion of fertile areas to deserts.
20. Mention the causes of desertification.
Answer: Desertification is aided by a number of natural and human factors. Drought and global warming are two important natural factors. Drought has an impact on land productivity and the growth of natural vegetation. This hastens the process of desertification. However, scientists believe that global warming will be a dangerous factor in increasing desertification. The desert environment will become drier as the temperature rises. Many people blame human activity for desertification. Overgrazing, agricultural expansion, and deforestation are examples of such activities. Rapid population growth has increased pressure in the desert and semi-desert regions in the modern era. This pressure has greatly aided in the expansion of deserts. Desertification is currently a problem in about 100 countries around the world’s dry areas.
21. Is it possible to control desertification?
Answer: Effective desertification prevention necessitates both local management and macropolitical approaches that promote the long-term viability of ecosystem services. It is preferable to focus on prevention because attempts to rehabilitate desertified areas are expensive and yield limited results.
Desertification can be controlled in the following ways:
i. Establishing a “culture of prevention” can go a long way toward protecting drylands from the onset or continuation of desertification. Desertification prevention relies heavily on integrated land and water management.
ii. Desertification is effectively prevented by all measures that protect soils from erosion, salinization, and other forms of soil degradation.
iii. Protecting vegetative cover can be a powerful tool in the fight against desertification.
iv. Conditions in the dry sub-humid and semiarid zones favour both pastoral and cropping land use. Rather than competing with each other, closer cultural and economic integration between the two livelihoods can help to prevent desertification.
v. Using locally appropriate technology is an important way for residents of drylands at risk of desertification to work with rather than against ecosystem processes. A major way to prevent desertification is to use a combination of traditional technology and selective transfer of locally acceptable technology.
vi. Desertification can also be avoided by creating economic opportunities in dryland urban centres and areas outside of dryland areas. Changes in the overall economic and institutional settings that create new opportunities for people to earn a living may help alleviate the current pressures underlying desertification processes.
22. What is global warming? Mention its causes.
Answer: Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that has bounced off the earth’s surface, causing global warming. Global warming is a type of climate change that refers to the long-term rise in global temperatures. It is caused by increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, primarily as a result of human activities such as the use of fossil fuels, deforestation, and farming.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other air pollutants and greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and absorb sunlight and solar radiation that has bounced off the earth’s surface, causing global warming. Normally, this radiation would escape into space, but pollutants, which can linger in the atmosphere for years or centuries, trap the heat and cause the planet to heat up. This is referred to as the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide plays the most significant role in global warming of any greenhouse gas. We all know that the use of fossil fuels began gradually increasing after the industrial revolution and that in order to meet the demands of certain industries, the cutting of trees also increased. As a result, the proportion of CO2 gas in the atmosphere began to rise. In addition to human activity, volcanic eruptions increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
23. What are the probable consequences of global warming?
Answer: Because of the rise in atmospheric temperature, there will be a slew of issues. However, melting snow in polar areas, rising sea levels, changes in plant and animal growth and distribution, crop yield decline, desertification, and other factors are significant.
A rise in atmospheric temperature is expected to cause the melting of snow in the north and south polar regions, as well as a rise in sea level. Thus, if the sea level rises by one metre from its current level, approximately 5 million square kilometres of coastal area will be submerged. Simultaneously, many populated islands, deltas, and coral islands will be submerged.
24. Write how to control global warming.
Answer: Heat-trapping greenhouse gases are rising, global temperatures are rising, the planet is warming, glaciers are melting, and sea levels are rising. This weather change is having a significant impact on wildlife and forests. The use of fossil fuels, deforestation, livestock production, and industrialization are all contributing factors. As a result, it causes drought, constant rain, hurricanes, extreme heatwaves, and other extreme weather conditions. With these negative effects of global warming occurring all over the world, we need to implement a variety of solutions to stop global warming and protect the planet. Among these are:
Increasing recycling rate
Switching to renewable energy
Making use of energy-saving devices
Reducing the use of hot water
Switching off all unnecessary electronic devices
By following these simple guidelines, we can all play an important role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions and preventing global warming, thereby protecting the planet for future generations.
25. Is there an environmental problem in your own locality? If yes, then explain their causes and indicate some measures for their solution.
Answer: Yes, flooding is an environmental issue in our own state of Assam.
Assam’s vast river network makes it vulnerable to natural disasters such as flooding and erosion, which has a negative impact on the state’s overall development. Each year, the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers, with over 50 tributaries feeding them, cause flood devastation during the monsoon season. Assam’s flood and erosion problem is distinct from that of other states in terms of the extent and duration of flooding and the magnitude of erosion, and it is likely the most acute and unique in the country.
Several factors, both natural and man-made, are to blame for the recurrence of floods in Assam. First and foremost, Assam is located in the heart of the monsoon belt and thus receives an abundance of rain during the rainy season. As a result, the river and its tributaries, such as Subansiri, Manas, Kopili, Jia Bhoroli, and others, become flooded, and their banks overflow, flooding the vast plain of the state. Second, the presence of long mountain ranges on its northern and eastern boundaries forces water to flow down into the vast plain, causing rivers to swell. Third, Assam loses hundreds of kilometres of land area each year as a result of heavy natural and artificial land sliding. Because of the soil erosion, the river becomes shallower, which aids in the formation of a large flood. Human-caused factors include the destruction of wetlands, deforestation, and encroachment on river banks. The majority of cities and towns suffer as a result of poor urban planning.
Although it is not possible to flood-proof the entire state of Assam, several measures should be implemented to provide a long-term solution. Dredging to increase the water holding capacity of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries will be an effective solution to removing flood damage from the state. It will reduce the number of disasters by nearly 70%. Flooding occurs when the riverbed rises. Today, technology has advanced to such an extent that it is not impossible to mitigate the flood problem. Furthermore, dredging will contribute to the development of a water highway in the Brahmaputra, which will be a good option for the development of our economy. Furthermore, the rejuvenation of wetlands, afforestation, decentralisation of weather forecasting, construction of more micro and scientific reservoirs and dams, the establishment of river valley projects, and so on may significantly reduce the problem in the long run. Embankments should be built away from rivers to ensure that they remain free-flowing. Certain areas should be set aside for water retention in order to level the peaks during extreme floods.
Additional/extra questions and answers/solutions
1. What are the four major spheres of the earth?
Answer: The four major spheres of the earth are the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere and the biosphere.
2. Name the greenhouse gases?
Answer: Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbon.
3. What causes an increase in global warming?
Answer: Emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from industrial units, vehicles and other sources leads to an increase in global warming.
7. What is land pollution? How can it be controlled?
Answer: When certain chemicals, poisonous metals, industrial wastes, radioactive substances, acid rain, and other pollutants come into contact with land, it becomes polluted and loses its natural properties and fertility. This degradation of land is known as land pollution. Modern farming practices, expanding industries, and deforestation are some of the primary causes of land pollution.
The different ways to control land pollution are:
i. To reduce land pollution, industrial wastes should be properly treated before disposal.
ii. Solid waste should be separated into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste and treated scientifically.
iii. Chemical fertiliser can be replaced with bio-fertilizer.
iv. Insecticides and pesticides must be avoided and the use of bioremediation should be practised.
v. Land pollution laws and acts must be strictly enforced.
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