People don’t often pay much mind to ecology, compared to other more “dynamic” sciences like astronomy or economics. This is a shame, as ecology provides us with insight into the very world around us and how it works. In recent years, people have started to pay attention to the pressing news that has come from ecological research, especially in regards to climate change and biodiversity loss. These are just some of the many topics that are researched by ecology. Before we get to those, it’s important that we understand what ecology is really about.
What is ecology, exactly?
Ecology is a pretty complex science that covers a lot of topics. If you want to analyze ecology and its importance, it’s crucial that you first get to know the term “ecology” itself. Ecology is a branch of biology which studies the many different relations between organisms themselves and their environments.
To understand these relationships, ecology must encompass diverse aspects such as population growth, competition, biodiversity, trophic relations, and many others. It’s an incredibly complex system to study, which is why this science is divided into several categories that each deal with their respective form of ecology.
Examples include microbial, behavioural, population, community, and ecosystem ecology. They all provide a unique perspective on organisms across the world and help us understand how they interact with one another, and the kind of consequences that stem from this interaction. There’s also global ecology, which studies the whole biosphere and all of the living things that are within it. At the same time, environmental factors like the climate are studied here, as it can have a significant effect on the biosphere. With this in mind, it becomes a bit easier to understand the purpose of ecology.
It helps with conservation
As an organism that is native to Earth, humans are also studied under ecology. And why wouldn’t we be? People have an enormous impact on the ecosystems that surround them. We can be found in every corner of the Earth, meaning that there is no system that we aren’t deeply intertwined with.
While there might be mutually-beneficial interactions between humans and their surrounding ecosystems, more often than not, these are one-sided exchanges. It’s no secret that humans use resources and exploit ecosystems for their gain. This is something that is also studied thoroughly by ecology.
We can show the extent of our damage to the ecosystem around us using ecological models and observations. Fortunately, we can also determine how to best minimize this damage and repair the ecosystem to an extent. The indicators and estimations provided by ecologists help create an urgency in the general population and stimulate conservational efforts. It’s hard to imagine where the world would be without some intervention on the side of ecology.
To preserve biodiversity and ensure the longevity of the planet, it’s important that we follow the proposals and conservational ideas that ecologists put forward.
It allows for better resource allocation
One of the more interesting aspects of the ecosystem that ecology touches upon is how different organisms utilize resources. You can very easily identify which resources are essential for the survival and propagation of a species, and which are in excess. This is a very important part of how ecology looks at humans as a species.
The increased carbon footprint that humans have created is a direct result of our need for fossil fuels. It has been shown that this is not an absolute necessity, considering there are many alternative sources of power and energy that can be utilized. Ecology helps us view this problem from different perspectives and allows us to make informed decisions to fix it. It’s important that we as a species adjust certain resource demands to create a sustainable system that will last.
It helps with disease and pest control
As previously mentioned, ecology also deals with microbial organisms. They are just as important in our ecosystem as any other type of organism. For humans, it’s of great importance that certain microbes are studied to prevent the rapid spread of disease. Everything from viruses to parasitic worms needs to be studied to best understand how to handle the problems that they cause.
One of the best examples of how ecology deals with diseases is the malaria situation. This particular disease is spread by one kind of mosquito called Anopheles. To better control the spread of malaria and even prevent it, we need to know how Anopheles interacts with its environment. The ways it feeds, breeds, and propagates are all important bits of information that bring us one step closer to reducing their impact on human populations.
Control measures can come from many different angles. In the malaria example, people have come up with nets and other protective measures that keep mosquitoes from being able to spread disease to humans. There’s also a way to prevent them from multiplying en masse by affecting their habitats and breeding grounds. Reducing the amount of freestanding surface water in an area drastically decreases the number of mosquitoes present. These are just some examples that ecology uses to control certain pests and the diseases that they carry over.
It promotes eco-friendliness
The research and information that ecology provides ultimately promotes eco-friendliness. Creating a balance in every ecosystem is the main goal, and getting to this point requires a lot of research and effort. Whenever ecology makes strides in a field, it creates more understanding among the general population, and this leads to a more eco-conscious view of the world. People become more open to an eco-friendly way of living and they want to help preserve the environment.
This is achieved through various different measures that are supported by ecology. Things, like reducing one’s carbon footprint and using organic products, are at the forefront of eco-friendly action. Many households start using eco-friendly options as soon as green alternatives become available. There are various products out there that, when used in an eco-friendly way, can make a huge difference for our environment. Instead of using plastic and non-recyclable products, people have started using organic materials for everything from their floors, linens, to their coffee cups. Some of these changes aren’t at all difficult to make, considering the other benefits that come with many organic products.
To start with, building materials are now more sustainable than ever. Cork, sourced from cork trees, is now commonly used as a flooring material. It’s biodegradable and easy to recycle, making it an ideal eco-friendly choice. Other, more common items are also being made environmentally-friendly. Sleeping on sustainable bamboo sheets is not only eco-friendly, but it also allows for more comfort and better aeration than lying on polyester sheets. Drinking from a plastic cup is not at all pleasant, and it’s difficult to clean one, which is why they are promptly thrown out. A clay or ceramic cup is easy to clean and can be customized to your desires. Sustainable clothing is more comfortable, etc.
There’s no shortage of eco-friendly options for every household out there, and people are more than willing to make changes when they are presented to them. This is one of the key practical aims of ecology.
It enhances energy conservation
There are few topics today that are as pressing as the energy problem. The way we source our energy is noticeably harmful to the environment and to us as well. Burning limited resources such as fossil fuels and coal releases dangerous substances into the air. They poison every ecosystem and contribute to the greenhouse gas effect. Because of this, more sustainable sources of energy are required to propel society forward.
Ecology provides a proper understanding of energy allocation and conservation, without which it would be impossible to gouge just how unsustainable a certain source of energy is. Humans can be noticeably wasteful in their consumption of certain energy sources, but this would not be quantifiable without the systems that are used in ecological research.
While practices like burning fossil fuels can be seen as harmful due to their effect on populations, the damage caused by cutting down too many trees is hard to asses. Ecology studies the ecosystems that these trees are in and it can show us just how bad the consequences would be if they were harmed. It’s important that we stay informed of the ecological cost of certain practices in fuel consumption so that we can come up with alternatives that are less harmful to us as a species and less harmful for the world in general. Without this knowledge, humanity could go about its ways and cause irreparable damage to the environment around it.
All in all, ecology serves more than its fair share of purposes in the modern world. As more and more people realize their potential impact on the environment, they become more welcoming of environmentally-friendly ideas and proposals. The governments of the world are scrambling to create green and eco-friendly measures that will help produce energy in a sustainable way, lest they would run out of fossil fuels pretty quickly. The impending threat of climate change has opened peoples’ eyes to the importance of ecology and its research now more than ever.