The earth is the only planet that is suitable for life in this universe. Life exists because of its interaction with the resources the earth provides. It is this interaction that creates a balance between the living and the nonliving resources and sustains both of them. The three most important nonliving resources for us is the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land we live on. Without these three resources, we cannot exist. In this section, we will discuss the importance of air, water, and soil for the sustenance of living beings.
Air is a mixture of gases that is composed of 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen and a very small percentage of water vapor and other gases. The fact that air contains so much oxygen is not because the earth provided us the atmosphere with that composition, but because living things like plants produced oxygen for over 2 billion of years ago from carbon dioxide.
The oxygen in the air is essential for animals to survive because we use this oxygen to produce energy from the food we eat. The carbon dioxide we breathe out is in turn required for plants to trap energy from the sun and turn it into food.
The air also has another important function: it regulates the temperature of the earth and causes different weather pattern. Without the atmosphere’s moderating effect, the earth would be fried during the day and would be freezing cold at night. The movements of air (wind) bring us rain in every monsoon.
Polluting the air by releasing hazardous chemicals can thus threaten the existence of life and can alter climatic patterns.
Water is called the medium of life. All life on the planet requires water (there are some forms of life that can live without air) because all the chemical reactions that occur in living cells occur using water as a medium. Water is found in large bodies like the ocean, seas, rivers, and lakes. It is also found in the atmosphere as vapour and as a solid in snow, glaciers and ice shelves.
97% of the water on the earth is found in the oceans and is too salty for us to drink. Of the 3% that is available as freshwater, 98% of this freshwater is trapped in glaciers and ice. Only a small amount of this natural resource is available in rivers and lakes.
Watch this video to understand the importance of water as a resource,
Thus it is essential to conserve water which is indeed precious and essential for our existence.
The minerals useful for life are found in the upper crust of the earth. But most of these are found in rocks, which cannot be used by plants or animal. Instead, we need them crushed in small particles which we call soil. The soil is formed by the breaking up of rocks by various geological, climatic and biological processes. Soil contains minerals such as Iron, Zinc, Nitrogen compounds, etc. that are all essential to sustaining life. It also holds water and makes it available for plants to use. Soil also contains ores from which we can extract metals such as iron, copper, gold, and aluminium.
Modern farming techniques using fertilizers and pesticides are degrading the quality of soil suitable for growing crops in the long run. Mining and deforestation are resulting in the loss of fertile soil. Thus, it is essential that we protect it.
We must save our planet from the air, water and soil pollution, we must control the production of pollutants. We must act fast or else there will be a time when mother nature decides to act and in such a scenario life will not be as simple as it seems today.
Stay tuned with BYJU’S to learn more about air, water, and soil.
Watch this video about the pollution of natural resources -air and water.