"More grass means less forest; more forest less grass. But either-or is a construction more deeply woven into our culture than into nature, where even antagonists depend on one another and the liveliest places are the edges, the in-betweens or both-ands..... Relations are what matter most.” - Michael Pollan
Human impact on our natural environment is inevitable, only that the scale, intensity and magnitude has increased exponentially since the industrial revolution. All life on earth thrives and flourishes when ecosystems are balanced and resilient enough to absorb shocks and disturbances. The disciplines of ecology and environment, though relatively young subjects in formal academia, are constantly improving our knowledge of nature as functioning networks and systems – from local niche ecosystems to large planetary phenomena, from individual biological bodies to built urban habitats. This heightened environmental awareness has ironically stemmed from the degrading effect of increasingly resource intensive ways of producing and consuming.
Facing complex and intractable environmental issues like climate change will need both the exactitude and predictive powers of the natural sciences, but also a deep understanding of the social and political context of contested use of common but finite natural resources. The disciplines of ecology and environment will inform us about how we design (or re-design) our homes, manufacture and engineer products, plan cities and run economies that are ecologically sustainable and socially just.
Shot from the Student Film – Herald the riven by Sachin Gupta, Photo courtesy – Film, School of Media, Arts and Sciences.