Environment: preservation, importance, impacts

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Environment is the set of biological, physical and chemical elements, processes and dynamics that create conditions and maintain life in the planet Earth, also including human beings and social, cultural and economic dynamics. The environment is composed of the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere. It is from it that we extract the essential elements for our survival, such as water, air, food and raw materials, one of the reasons why its conservation is so important.

Read too: Anthropogenic actions in the environment

Topics in this article

  • 1 - Summary on the environment
  • 2 - What is environment?
  • 3 - Composition of the environment
  • 4 - Importance of the environment
  • 5 - Environmental problems
  • 6 - Preservation of the environment
  • 7 - Preservation of the environment x environmental conservation
  • 8 - Environment and sustainability
  • 9 - Environment in Brazil
  • 10 - International agreements on the environment
  • 11 - Concepts related to the environment
  • 12 - World Environment Day

Summary about the environment

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  • The environment concerns the set of biological, chemical and physical elements and processes responsible for life on planet Earth.

  • It understands human beings and the transformations they impose on natural spaces.

  • It consists of the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and lithosphere.

  • It is important because it is from him that we draw the necessary resources for our subsistence.

  • Preservation and environmental conservation have different meanings.

  • Environmental preservation aims to fully protect a given area from external influence.

  • Conservation provides for the rational use of natural resources so that they do not run out.

  • Themes related to the environment in Brazil are dealt with by the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), created in 1992.

  • Environment Day is celebrated on June 5th.

What is environment?

Environment is defined as the set of biological, chemical and physical elements and processes that guide and create the necessary conditions for the maintenance of life on planet Earth. This is one of the main and most comprehensive definitions for the term, used both by the United Nations Organization (UN) and Brazilian environmental legislation.

From the point of view of Geography, the environment understands also all natural space and O geographic space, that dynamic space that is in the process of being modified by anthropic action. Thus, we must take into account that human beings and their social and economic organization are part of the environment, interacting with it and modifying it according to their needs.

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Composition of the environment

The composition of the environment is understood based on four big spheres that each comprise specific dynamics that are fundamental for life and for the maintenance of environmental balance. It is also important to remember that these spheres are by no means isolated from each other. On the contrary, it is their coexistence and interdependence that characterize and define the environment.

  • Biosphere: consists of the set of all existing ecosystems on our planet, which encompasses the most diverse forms of life that inhabit the Earth in terrestrial, freshwater and saltwater environments.

  • Hydrosphere: represents all bodies of water (fresh or salty) on planet Earth. In addition, water is considered part of the hydrosphere in any physical state: solid, present in the form of glaciers and ice caps; liquid, such as seas, rivers, lakes, surface and subsurface waters; and also gaseous, which corresponds to the water present in the atmosphere in the form of vapour.

  • Atmosphere: it is a thick layer of gases that form an envelope around our planet, consisting of elements such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and others, in addition to water vapour. The atmosphere is divided into five layers (troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere) and is important because it is where the processes that govern time and the climate, also serving as a protective shield against ultraviolet rays, meteorites and solar winds and the occurrence of the greenhouse effect.

  • lithosphere: it is the outermost layer of planet Earth, lying above the terrestrial magma. It is divided into very extensive solid fragments called tectonic plates, being formed essentially by rocks and minerals. It is on the lithosphere that we live and where the other spheres develop.

Read too: Environmental conferences — meetings to discuss the preservation of the environment

Importance of the environment

The environment is important because it is from it that human beings derive the essential resources for the maintenance of life and the functioning of society, especially when it comes to the development of the economy in the world. These are the air, the Water, food, raw materials, used to manufacture other foods, clothing and basic items used in our daily lives.

You biogeochemical cycles that govern the functioning of the spheres of the environment are fundamental for the maintenance of ecosystems and, therefore, of all forms of life present on the planet, which invariably includes the species human.

Environmental problems

O imbalance in the functioning ofO environment by the disturbance of the dynamics that happen in one or more of its spheres and that is provoked mainly by anthropic action, that is, of human beings, triggers what we call problems environmental.

Environmental problems can be caused in several ways, such as the growth of urbanized areas, the opening of new areas for the development of the activity. agricultural, by the intensification of industrial activity in urban centers and by the inadequate management of natural resources. They result in medium and long-term consequences for human beings and for all other spheres of the environment.

We list below the main environmental problems we face in the world today:

  • intensification of greenhouse effect;

  • increase in hole in the ozone layer;

  • climate changes;

  • pollution of the seas and oceans;

  • logging;

  • water scarcity;

  • desertification;

  • soil pollution;

  • atmospheric pollution;

  • fires;

  • species extinction.

Preservation of the environment

The preservation of the environment concerns the set of measures and practices adopted to protect fully one area or a natural resource from the interference of external agents, which includes human action, that may affect the balance of that ecosystem and harm its functioning, even causing losses irreparable. In this sense, it serves the purpose of keeping the protected area untouched.

Members of civil society and its most diverse representative bodies, as well as the public and private sectors of the economy, can act with the purpose of guaranteeing environmental preservation, which can still take place in the collective or individual.

Preservation of the environment x environmental conservation

The concepts of environmental preservation and conservation are often used synonymously, and although both are about protecting the environment to some degree, they are very different in essence.

As mentioned, environmental preservation aims at the integral protection of an ecosystem, vegetation, biome or region of the influence of human action, in order to avoid losses in biodiversity. Environmental conservation, in turn, concerns the set of policies and actions that aim to protect nature through the rational use and management of its resources. This second concept is directly associated, therefore, with the notion of sustainability.

Environment and sustainability

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Sustainability aims at conserving the environment for future generations.

THE sustainability provides a model for the use of natural resources in the present so that there is no harm to future generations, which is closely linked to the idea of ​​conservation of the environment. In this way, sustainable actions are very important to guarantee a balanced environment without scarcity of resources, such as drinking water, fertile soils and raw materials.

Some of sustainable practices that can be adopted to achieve this objective are:

  • avoid the waste of water;

  • dispose of residential waste and other waste in appropriate places;

  • save electricity;

  • choose to use energy clean and renewable;

  • not practice deforestation and burning and promote reforestation;

  • opt for alternative or collective means of transport;

  • use biodegradable products;

  • practice conscious consumption.

Check it out on our podcast: Sustainability, environmental degradation and human responsibility

environment in Brazil

The knowledge, protection and recovery of the environment in Brazil is in charge of the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), according to the description presented by the agency itself. Its creation took place in 1992, the same year that the ECO-92, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, considered the largest conference on the environment ever held worldwide. Despite this, policies aimed at environmental conservation in Brazil date back to the first half of the 20th century.

One of the main legal instruments in force today is the National Environmental Policy., known by the acronym PNMA (law nº 6938, of August 31, 1981), which aims to preserve, improve and recover the quality of the environment, aiming at quality of life, socioeconomic development and other national and citizen interests Brazilians.

It is also worth noting that it is in the PNMA that one of the definitions of the environment that we use in the country can be found. According to this policy, the environment corresponds to “the set of conditions, laws, influences and interactions of a physical, chemical and biological order, which allows, shelters and governs life in all its forms”.

THE Constitution Federal do Brasil also provides for the preservation and conservation of the environment based on article 255, which reads as follows:

Everyone has the right to an ecologically balanced environment, a good for common use by the people and essential to a healthy quality of life. life, imposing on the Public Power and the community the duty to defend and preserve it for the present and future generations.

International agreements on the environment

International agreements on the environment are documents signed in the context of conferences and meetings aimed at discussions on this topic and which have mechanisms for contain or avoid one or more environmental problems, such as climate change, or promote a policy and set of ideas for a group of countries, such as development sustainable.

Next, we list some of the main agreements on the environment signed in recent years.

  • Stockholm Declaration: signed within the framework of the United Nations Conference on the Environment in 1972.

  • schedule 21: resulting from ECO-92 and which deals with environmental conservation, social justice and economic growth.

  • Kyoto Protocol: signed in 1997, during the Conference of the Parties III (COP 3), held in the Japanese city of Kyoto. It deals with air pollution and its effects on the environment.

  • Johannesburg Declaration: resulting from Rio+10, held in 2002, in the South African city.

  • Report “The future we want”: derived from Rio+20, held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, which reaffirmed the previous agreements of Rio+10 and ECO-92.

  • Paris Agreement: signed in 2015 and which provides for a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases and global warming.

  • Agenda 2030: document prepared by the United Nations and which aims to fulfill an action plan with 17 goals to achieve sustainable development by the year 2030.

Concepts related to the environment

  • Biogeochemical cycles: processes of circulation of matter and energy through the elements of nature.

  • Sustainable development: socio-economic development model to be implemented in the countries to guarantee the conservation of the environment together with their economic growth and advancement in social agendas.

  • Ecology: science responsible for the study of the relationships between living beings and the environment.

  • ecosystem: set formed by living beings and physical elements with which they interact, composing a functional system.

  • Habitat: environment in which a species of living organism develops, since that place offers the ideal conditions for it.

  • Sustainability: concept elaborated and published, in 1987, in the report “Our common future”, prepared in the context of the UN General Assembly. It concerns the ability to obtain resources from nature in a rational way to ensure their availability also for future generations.

World environment day

O World environment daywas set to be June 5th. The choice of date took place during the first United Nations Conference on the Environment Human, held in Stockholm in 1972, and its first celebration took place in the year Following. Several actions are carried out during this date to raise society's awareness of the importance of preserving the environment.

By Paloma Guitarrara
Geography teacher

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