DEFINITION OF ENVIRONMENT
Environment, according to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Environment is defined as the nature conditions, example land, air and water in which people, animals and plants live. On the other hand, it is the surroundings of man, both physical and social that consists of all the natural laws, principles and things made by both nature and man.
TYPES OF ENVIRONMENT
(i) The Physical Environment
The physical environment refers to the geographical areas or territory which man occupies. This consists of dry lands, forests and grasslands, lakes and deserts. Man’s physical environment, to a large extent determines the type of occupation those living in it are likely to engage in.
(ii) THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
Since no man is an island, man lives together as a group or society. This group or society is referred to as ‘Man’s Social Environment’. Man’s real social environment is men. lt is the social environment that conditions human development or behaviour. Things that moulds social behavior include ideas, beliefs, notions, biases, presuppositions, etc.
HOW MAN INFLUENCES HIS PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
Man has continued to change his physical environment in order to improve his living conditions. He has been able to develop and turn many of the natural conditions to his own advantages, such as in the following examples:
(i) Man constructs shelters of various kinds. This comprises shelters for dwelling, marketing and for other gatherings. He has also constructed shelters for schools, hospitals, industries etc.
(ii) Man builds dams and canals thereby changing the natural environment. By so doing, he has been able to overcome the problem caused by lack of rainfall. He also uses the dams as source of generating electric power.
(iii) Barren soils and lands have been made reach by the use of artificial manure. For instance, the N.P.K. 15.15 fertilizer was discovered and manufactured by man to enrich the soil and enhance the production of food for man’s consumption.
Furthermore, man reclaims marshy and flood lands by means of drainage. Some lands that would have been rendered useless as a result of nature, have been reclaimed by man and used for erecting buildings, construction of roads to link up places necessary for man’s survival, etc.
Man has discovered and is still discovering other means through which he can effectively influence his physical environment in order to satisfy his unlimited wants, needs and desires.
HOW MAN IS INFLUENCED BY HIS PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT
Man, on the other hand, has been influenced and is still being influenced by his physical environment in the following ways:
(i) Man sleeps when it is time to sleep and wakes when it is day-light. He moves about during the day and confines himself at night.
(ii) Man, in order to protect himself from rain and sun, builds shelters as his dwelling place.
(iii) Man has been forced by nature to wear clothes in order to protect himself from cold. Man wears clothes according to the climatic conditions of his area. For instance, a man in the cold region wears very thick clothes while a man in the tropics wears light clothes.
(iv) When a man lives near lakes, sea or other water bodies, he engages in fishing to earn a living. For instance, those living in the Riverine area of Southern Nigeria that is characterized by thick mangrove forests are engaged in fishing, net making and lumbering.
(v) Man farms where the land is arable. He plants the type of crops that are favoured by his soil and climatic conditions of his region. He keeps live stocks where there is good grass and other favourable conditions for keeping animals. For example, in Nigeria the Northerners keep live stock because there is good grass and extensive pasture lands.
HOW MAN INFLUENCES HIS SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
Man, as a social being influences his social environment through the following ways:
(i) Man lives together in groups or communities and takes advantages of group work and group living.
(ii) He makes rules and regulations in order to guide the behavior of people and ensure harmony and tranquility in the society. A society without rules and regulations will be filled with mal-adjusted citizens who will constitute nuisance.
(iii) Man, in a bid to satisfy his unlimited wants, produces goods and services and engages in export and import of such goods and services. For instance Nigeria exports her petroleum product and imports cars and some other services to make life more comfortable for its citizens.
(iv) Man makes music for leisure and happiness. ‘All work no play makes Jack a dull boy’. Therefore, in order to ease-off stress after the day’s work, man engages himself in music production or other avenues of creating humour or entertainment.
In addition, man in a bid to live exemplary life, founds religion and religious beliefs. For instance, the Christians worship the supreme God.
They make effort to obey the commandments of God in other to inherit His Kingdom. The Moslems practice the Islamic religion which was founded by Prophet Mohammed. They worship Prophet Mohammed and observe his commandments. Consequently, the traditional religion was founded by our forefathers. Those who practice it make graven images, worship it and observe its rules and regulations, etc.
HOW MAN IS INFLUENCED BY HIS SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT
On the other hand, man has been influenced and is still being influenced by his social environment in the following ways:
(i) He obeys existing laws and customs of his community. Before man is born, there are already existing rules and customs in his community. To fit in properly into such community man is bound to observe them.
(ii) Man conforms to the modes of worship in his society. Though, there is freedom of worship but most of the religions man subscribes to are already there before he was born.
(iii) Man enjoys the pleasure of what exists around his environment, such as the type of food and drinks that are produced in his environment. He also adapts himself to the trend of fashion in his society.
Every society has a language of communication. Therefore, man speaks the language that is already in use by the people of his society.
In conclusion, man cannot exist in a vacuum. He lives in an environment. As such, he interacts with his environment and in the process of interacting with his environment, the environment influences him and he, in turn, influences the environment. This interaction has to a large extent alleviated some of the problems man was encountering. A typical example is the early men who were eating their food raw, moving about aimlessly in the forest like animals. When they started interacting with their environment, they discovered that when two stones were struck together, fire was produced to cook their food. They also discovered that they can cultivate the soil to plant their crops. Hence, they were the first to discover agriculture.
Today, as a result of how man influences his environment and vice versa, man has been able to discover various ways of alleviating some of the numerous problems he is surrounded with. Examples of such problems include: communication, transportation, clothing, shelter, food, medical services, just to mention but a few. The status of Nigerian families has changed from what it used to be to what it is today as a result of the above listed factors. Human families will continue to experience more changes as a result of their unlimited wants, needs and desires in a bid to make life more enjoyable and comfortable.