Ecology is probably one of the most misunderstood fields of science, due to the fact that it is often been confused with ideologies, trends or even political views. Due to its direct connection with the general public, it is commonly used as a context, which lacks the high standards, as defined by science. Nature activism for example, in some cases, has been falsely promoted under the Ecology scope, without any previous control that renders the respective statements scientifically valid.
Like any other scientific field, Ecology does not follow emotions, dogmas, or opinions, it does not pursue political correctness, it is not anthropocentric and mostly, it does not proceed into conclusions, without any previous validation. Nevertheless, the so-called ecological consciousness, it is desirable when it is based on verified arguments.
So, what is Ecology?
Ecology as a research field, historically appeared during Aristoteles era, but as a scientific term it has been introduced from the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel in 1866. It is a field of Biology, which is divided in smaller and often interconnected subjects. The general term for the science of Ecology, is the study of living organisms and their interactions with their environment (including human species). Such studies include data collections, processings and analyses, in order to extract measurable and potentially repeatable results. Ecology, does not apply to guesses, beliefs and opinions, but in contrast, it follows the experimental method to verify, or not, a hypothesis. It is a hard and time-consuming process, which it demands special knowledge, proportional to the requirements of contextual studies.
Scientists and researchers of Ecology, can be found, mainly in Universities, public or private research centers and National History Museums. At this point, unfortunately, we have to mention the absence of a Natural History Museum from Cyprus, which is the only country in European Union without such an institution, a fact that comes in contrast to the natural richness of the island.
Ecology, provides the necessary tools, to enrich our knowledge regarding the natural world, thus assisting us, for the demanding management of Nature. Through Ecology, we draw knowledge that feeds our love for the marvelous world that surrounds us. Any intervention in Nature, it is critical to be supported by ecological studies, since only then, we will be able to protect efficiently, our more valuable asset, our planet.
So, Ecology is not for everyone?
Ecology, surely wants the public by its side, besides that, it is driven by the need to satisfy human curiosity, to educate and to improve our quality of life. Nevertheless, it demands the required knowledge, in order for its applications to be meaningful or even non-destructive. Our love for Nature and the magnificent organisms within, together with our dependence from it, impose the necessity for strict measures, when it comes to the decision-making in relation to Nature’s protection and management.
In conclusion, Ecology is a scientific field that will always be fascinating for many people and it is more efficient when it addresses to everyone. The environmental crises, require solutions that Ecology is able to provide, when approached by the society with responsibility and rationalism.
Article by Dr. Pantelis Savvides