The word “environment” means first of all the surroundings, i.e. everything that is around you. But the environment is more than that. All living things are dependent on their environment and vice versa. The environment changes living things and living things change their environment. Environment and living things have a lot to do with each other. Today, therefore, the word “environment” often means all of nature.
The term “environment” has only been around for about 200 years. But it only became really important after the 1960s, when some people realized that humans had a bad impact on the environment. Above all, they polluted the environment: exhaust fumes from cars and heaters polluted the air. Flushing toilets and sewage from factories polluted the rivers, lakes, and seas. More and more people didn’t want that and started to protect the environment.
Today, people often talk about “sustainability”. This means that one should do everything in such a way that it could go on forever. It’s like this in nature: there’s the water cycle, for example, which never ends. Animals eat plants. Their droppings are fertilizer for the soil. This is how new plants grow. This can go on forever. At the moment, however, we humans need far more oil, natural gas, and other natural resources than they can form. Eventually, there won’t be anymore. And above all, with this excessive consumption, we pollute our environment. This is not sustainable, i.e. not environmentally friendly.
From the 1970s onwards, schools also began to talk more about the environment. They also want to teach the children how to behave in an environmentally friendly manner. Subjects such as natural history, geography, and history were given common titles such as “People and the Environment”. Scientists from many subjects such as biology, geology, and chemistry have begun to teach environmental sciences at universities. Part of it is also ecology. In this subject, research is carried out into how to treat the environment with care.