IAS Exam NIOS Environment and Ecology Study Material

For the aspirants of UPSC IAS Exam, we have provided NIOS study material for the Subject Environment and Ecology

Created On: Feb 9, 2016 14:51 IST
Modified On: Feb 11, 2016 14:14 IST

For the Civil Services aspirants the given NIOS Books for Download are very much important. The NIOS books contain precise study material available in all major subjects like History, Geography, Political Science, Economy, Accountancy, Business Studies, Sociology Psychology, Environment and Ecology etc. The IAS aspirants need to prefer such textbooks which required less time to cover the whole UPSC IAS syllabus. NIOS textbooks are equally important for UPSC IAS Prelims Exam as well as for IAS Mains Exam.

Most of the Civil Services Aspirants find difficulties to cover the whole syllabus due to unavailability of proper study resource materials consequently they bound to prefer such study materials which may inappropriate in perspective of IAS Exam.

Here, we have provided the NIOS study material for the subject Environment and Ecology, one of most important subject in terms of number of questions asked in IAS Prelims Exam in recent years. The scope and importance of this subject growing year by year because the most of the developed and developing countries of the world are engaged to cater with the environmental issues and challenges which have emerged as a global concern for the world.

Module 1: Environment through Ages


We live on a beautiful planet called earth, along with a wide variety of plants, animals and other organisms. Our earth, however, is part of a vast universe. The universe is about 15 to 20 billion years old. The age of the earth is approximately 4 to 5 billion years, while human beings evolved only around 2 million years ago. In this lesson, you shall learn how the earth originated, how it got its own environment and in what ways human beings have been using the environmental resources for their welfare and development.

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The human beings (Homo sapiens), evolved more than two million years ago. They evolved with a large brain that enabled them to think, and use their judgment. Humans walked erect on two legs, which made their hands free to negotiate manual functions. As is with other animals, the survival of humans also entirely depended on their obtaining food from the environment. Being intelligent, human beings exploit environmental resources for many purposes other than just for procuring food. In the last few centuries, the exploitation of environmental resources has dramatically increased, leading to serious damage and degradation of the environment. In this lesson you shall learn about the utilization and exploitation of natural resources and how, they are being overexploited.

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When humans evolved more than two million years ago, the natural resources were over abundant as compared to human needs. As human population increased, more and more food and resources for shelter were required and these were drawn at an increasing rate from the environment. Even today, natural resources are being exploited by humans to meet their needs. In this lesson you shall learn how human activities degrade and deplete the natural resources of the environment.

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Module 2: Ecological Concepts and Issues


In the previous module (module-1) you have learnt about the origin and evolution of the environment. You have also learnt how humans have been interacting with the environment. In this lesson, which is the first one in the module-2, you will learn some important concepts of ecology which is an established branch of science.

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You know that earth is perhaps the only planet in the solar system that supports life. The portion of the earth which sustains life is called biosphere. Biosphere is very huge and cannot be studied as a single entity. It is divided into many distinct functional units called ecosystem. In this lesson you will study about the structure and functions of ecosystem.

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Whenever you travel long distance you come across changing patterns of landscape. As you move out from your city or village, you see croplands, grasslands, or in some areas a forests, desert or a mountainous region. These distinct landscapes are differentiated primarily due to the type of vegetation in these areas. Physical and geographical factors such as rainfall, temperature, elevation, soil type etc. determine the nature of the vegetation. In this lesson you will learn about the natural ecosystems with their varied vegetation and associated wildlife. You know that earth is perhaps the only planet in the solar system that supports life. The portion of the earth which sustains life is called biosphere. Biosphere is very huge and cannot be studied as a single entity. It is divided into many distinct functional units called ecosystem. In this lesson you will study about the structure and functions of ecosystem.

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The greed and need of human being has modified and changed the natural ecosystems greatly. The main reasons for the modification of natural ecosystems are and 1) increasing human population 2) increasing human needs and 3) changing life styles. In this lesson you will learn about different types of human modified ecosystems, the modifications brought about for their optimum utilization.

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Module 3: Human Impact on Environment


Humans have lived in close contact with the environment ever since they first evolved way back in time between one million to two million years ago. In the beginning they were hunters and gatherers as you have already learnt in lesson-3. Gradually, with time, humans began to lead a settled and well organized life. As humans increased in numbers and progressed culturally, they began to draw more and more from natural resources so much so that environmental degradation has become a matter of serious concern nowadays. In this lesson you shall learn about the settlements of humans in villages and cities, related characteristics, associated life styles and environmental changes resulting from explosive growth of human population and human settlements.

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In the previous lessons you have learnt about environment, its components and various ecological concepts. You have also acquainted yourself with natural ecosystem and manmade ecosystems. Humans have altered the ecosystems according to their own needs without thinking about the consequences. Their need combined with greed have caused much damage to the environment, which will affect the coming generations. The expansion of agriculture, urbanization and industrialization needed the land which was obtained by large scale clearing of forests. The deforestation has changed the scenario of developed and developing countries, and has brought out vast changes resulting into a various environmental problems. In this lesson you are going to study about deforestation, its causes and effect on environment.

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Module 4: Contemporary Environment Issues


Developmental activities such as construction, transportation and manufacturing not only deplete the natural resources but also produce large amount of wastes that leads to pollution of air, water, soil, and oceans; global warming and acid rains. Untreated or improperly treated waste is a major cause of pollution of rivers and environmental degradation causing ill health and loss of crop productivity. In this lesson you will study about the major causes of pollution, their effects on our environment and the various measures that can be taken to control such pollutions.

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It is well known that various human activities have caused damage to land, air, water and organisms that inhabit them. The degraded environment in turn poses a serious threat to affect human health and social well-being. In developing countries like India the biological contamination of food, water and air with germs has remained a health menace. Introduction of toxic chemicals and harmful radiations has created new types of potentially serious health problems. Developmental projects have led to pollution of the environment resulting in different type of health problems. Some of those will be discussed in detail in this lesson.

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In nature catastrophes such as floods, drought, earth quake, tsunami, happen from time to time causing immense damage to life and property. It is important to devise means and methods to manage and minimise from natural disasters as far as possible. Disasters caused by human activities such as fires, accidents, epidemics are no less sudden than natural disasters and may be equally devastating. In this lesson you shall learn about causes, effects, prevention and management of natural as well as human made disaster.

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By now you are familiar with the term environment. You are also aware that the environment has no geographical boundaries. Whatever damage is done to the environment at a place it affects nearby or even distant places. These effects show up immediately or slowly. The explosive growth of the human population has been accompanied by rising expectations and increase in the standard of living. More food, more houses, more transport, more energy and more of everything is required. This growing human need has resulted in depletion of natural resources; deforestation, loss of biodiversity, water and energy scarcity, increasing exploitation of mineral resources etc. have led to the degradation of the environment. It is important to identify and address important issues to conserve and improve the environment. Some major national environmental issues such as land and forest management, water scarcity, energy, fast depletion of natural resources and many other will be discuss in the lesson.

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There is much to celebrate and appreciate about the world we live in. It includes our environment. However, mostly due to our actions we are altering the very environment, which sustains us. It would be very difficult for us to live in an unfriendly environment. This lesson exposes you to the various global environmental issues or concerns and possible strategies to cope with them.

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Module 5 - Environmental Conversation


A wide variety of living organisms including plants, animals and micro-organisms with whom we share this planet earth makes the world a beautiful place to live in. Living organisms exist almost everywhere from mountain peaks to the ocean depths; from deserts to the rainforests. They vary in their habit and behaviour, shapes, sizes and colour. The remarkable diversity of living organisms form an inseparable and significant parts of our planet however, the ever increasing human population is posing serious threats to bio-diversity. In this lesson we shall learn the ways humans are causing loss of biodiversity and the efforts that are being taken or need to be taken to protect and conserve the biodiversity

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Resource is anything useful or can be made useful to humans to meet their needs. The resource that is directly available for use from nature is called natural resource, which includes air, water from rainfall in lakes, rivers and wells, soil, land, forest, biodiversity, minerals, fossil fuels etc. Thus natural resources are supplied by our environment. When human population was small and they lived a controlled and moderate life, the resource use was limited. But increasing population and economic activity resulted in excessive material consumption is putting heavy burden on natural resource base and that is causing severe damage to the environment.

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Soil erosion and land degradation together, constitute one of the major problems that disturb the ecological balance of the world. In this lesson, we will discuss the causes of soil erosion and land degradation. You will also learn about remedial measures that can be taken to reduce or prevent soil and land degradation.

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You have already learnt in the previous lesson 16 that water and energy are required for survival of all organisms. You have also learnt that there is growing shortage of water and energy which limits growth and development. Human beings, through overexploitation of water resources have made water scarce. Pollution of natural water bodies such as sea, rivers, lakes etc., have made their water unusable. The problem of growing shortages of two essential resources namely water and energy can be solved only through their wise use and effective conservation. In this lesson, you shall learn about water and energy conservation.

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Module 6: Sustainable Development


Humans have made a very impressive economic progress, specially during the past two centuries, in creating material and luxuries of life style. This progress has been achieved at a tremendous cost to the environment. Ever increasing exploitation of natural resources coupled with environmental degradation has reached a point that now threatens the well being and future of mankind. Environmentalist and even the common man around the world are seeking answers to this question like - can we keep up industrial and economic development without depleting or degrading our natural resources? Can forests be cleared endlessly for cultivation and habitation? Can agricultural land be regularly used up for building, cities, factories and shopping malls? Can intensive farming be carried out through the year? Can fossil fuels be pumped out in a never-ending manner? How long can our natural resources last at the increasing rate of exploitation and consumption? The answer to these questions will explain the “concept of sustainable development”. In this lesson we shall learn about the concept of sustainable development.

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Modern agriculture has made impressive contribution in increasing food grain production in the country. The country could achieve self-sufficiency in food grain production by using modern methods of agriculture using better quality of seed, proper irrigation and adequate supply of plant nutrients by using chemical fertilizers and control of pests and diseases in crop plants by using pesticides. It has also involved modern cultivation practices using tractors, combine harvesters and tube wells for irrigation. Rapid growth in food grain production from using seeds of high yielding variety is termed as Green Revolution. Protection of air, water, soil and human health while producing bumper crops should be the prime concern of modern agriculture.

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Agriculture is the process of producing food, feed, fibre and other desired products by cultivation of certain plants and raising of domesticated animals. Agriculture has changed dramatically, especially since the end of World War II. Food and fibre productivity has increased by using new technologies, mechanization, increased use of fertilizers and pesticides and expansion of irrigation facilities. These changes allowed farmers with reduced labour demands to produce the majority of the food and fibre. Although these changes have had the positive effect of these practices have also caused some serious environmental and social problems such as erosion of top soil depletion and pollution of groundwater contamination, unemployment of farm labourers due to their replacement by increasing use of farm machinery in agriculture operations.

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Industrial revolution resulted in the production of a large number of goods and services for the convenience of people. Life became much easier and comfortable. But large scale industrial production resulted in accumulation of huge amounts of wastes, which in turn created pollution of air, water, land and adversely affected plant and animal life. The environment of earth is loaded with wastes much beyond its carrying capacity. The volume of waste and out of service goods and gagets over loaded and pollution must be controlled in order to provide a healthy environment for man and other animals.

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Module 7 - Environmental Management


The awareness and consideration for environment covers several environmental issues such as pollution of water, air and soil, land degradation, industrialization, urbanization, depletion of natural resources etc. Environmental Law plays a very crucial and important role in regulating the use of natural resources and in protecting the environment. The success of environmental legislations mainly depends on the way they are enforced. Legislation also serves as a valuable tool for educating masses about their responsibility in maintaining healthy environment

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Every country strives to progress ahead one aspect of progress is economic development through manufacturing and trading. Every country builds industries which provide employment, serve the consumers needs and help to generate revenue. Development projects in the past were undertaken without any consideration to their environmental consequences. As a result rivers and lakes got polluted; air pollution reached at threatening level and pilling of industrial wastes resulted in land degradation. Industrialization and economic growth provided material comforts and luxuries of life but at the same time deteriorated the quality of life.

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The role of national government is critical for control of environmental pollution control, conservation and improvement of environment for promoting sustainable development. To address the diverse environmental issues a number of environment related institutions and organization have been setup at international, national level by United Nations, national governments and civil society. An environmental organization is an organization seeks to protect, analyze or monitor the environment against misuse or degradation or lobby for these goals. Environmental organization may be a government organization, a nongovernment organization, a charity or trust. Environmental organizations can be global, national, or local. This lesson provides information on leading environmental organizations, both within and outside the government, working for the conservation and improvement of environment at global and national level.

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You have learnt about the basic concepts of environment and the environmental issues. You have also learnt about the need for conservation and management of natural resources. The earth is one, but the world is not. We all depend on one biosphere for sustaining our lives. Yet each community, each country, strives for survival and prosperity with little regard for its impact on others. It is our fundamental duty to make this planet earth a decent habitable place. The challenge of living in harmony with the earth is as old as human society itself. Environmental ethics relates to our obligations and responsibilities towards nature. For an equitable share we must have equal responsibilities. In this lesson you shall learn about environmental ethics, our responsibilities towards environment and the Gandhian approach to environmental protection.
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Module 8A - Water Resource Management


More than three-fourths of the earth’s surface is covered by water. Water is an odorless, tasteless, substance than can naturally exist as gas, liquid and solid within a relatively narrow range of air, temperature and pressure found on the earth’s surface. It is absolutely essential for survival of all living beings. Though water is apparently available in abundant quantity, there is scarcity of usable quantity of water in a large part of the world.

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Ground water resources as the name suggest is the water found underneath the soil. These waterfalls as the rain fall or snow melt either lost as surface runoff. Some amount also percolates through soil under the influence of gravity and get collects in the soil pore spaces due to the presence of underlying above the impervious layer. In this lesson, you shall learn about the ground water resources which are vitally important for agriculture, industries and day to day living.

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You have already learnt about the importance of fresh water without which there would be no life on earth. In this lesson you will learn about fresh water resources, its use and the significance of maintaining the quality of fresh water.

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Water is “elixir of life”. In the previous lesson you have learnt about the various sources of fresh water. We need to conserve the water for the present and for the future generations. In this lesson you shall learn about the need for water conservation and the different methods of water harvesting.

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You have already learnt how important water is for survival of all living beings. You have also learnt that usable water is becoming scarce. In this lesson you will learn some important methods of conserving water and the role of individuals, community and government in conservation of water.

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Module 8B - Energy and Environment

Importance of Energy in Society

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Non-Renewable Source of Energy

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You have already known about non-renewable or exhaustible sources of energy. Most of us rely heavily on the use of non-renewable energy resources such as coal, oil and natural gas for our daily need but we know that these resources are finite in nature and eventually the day will come when they will vanish forever. Before that they will become too expensive and also damaging for the environment. Sooner or later we have to think about using alternative energy resources which are renewable, may last forever.

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In the previous lesson you studied about some of the important non-conventional or renewable sources of energy such as solar energy, wind energy and hydel power, tidal and hydrogen etc. but now gaining momentum as alternative resources such as biomass, geothermal and hydrogen as a source of vast energy resources. These energy sources are renewable because they are regenerated within a reasonable time period. Moreover these energy resources can be used with minimal environmental degradation and offer us a chance to develop a truly sustainable energy policy. Its for these reasons there is growing interest in renewable energy resources. This lesson deals with these renewable energy resources.

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In the 1970s energy issues were dominated by the oil crisis and the threats to energy security. At that time environmental issues associated with the production and consumption of energy were yet to gain widespread attention. Nowadays, environmental issues are among top priority in private, public and government circle. Excessive energy use and growing exploitation of natural resources have adversely affected our environment. To reduce the adverse impacts of growing use of energy on the environment, it is important to improve energy use efficiency and switch to environment friendly energy sources. Improved energy efficiency and better energy management will help in preventing environmental damage and help in financial saving.

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