How To Study Environment For IAS Exam?

Environment is a term which is widely discussed all over the world, and UPSC question papers year after year are proving that Environment and related areas are a must-know for every Civil Services aspirant. Questions from Environment touch areas of basic understanding as well as hot topics of current importance like Global warming, Urban Heat Islands, Endangered species, Genetic pollution, recent climate summits etc.

Topics of Importance : Environment for UPSC Civil Services

Prioritizing sub-topics in environment is important to crack IAS prelims/mains. The topics of priority are as below.

  • Ecology related aspects : Be familiar with concepts like Ecosystem, Keystone species, Niche, Food chain, Food web etc.
  • Biodiversity related aspects : Be familiar with question-heavy areas like flora and fauna, endangered species, wild life parks, sanctuaries, bio-diversity hot-spots, biosphere reserves, IUCN, summits etc.
  • Climate change/Environment degradation related aspects : Be familiar topics like with global warming, ozone hole depletion, acid rain etc. Also note down important points, when you hear news related to conventions or protocols like Ramsar Convention, Montreal Protocol, Kyoto Protocol etc.

Useful Books for Environment

  1. CSAT: Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change (Paper – 1)
  2. CSAT Environmental Ecology Biodiversity & Climate Change – Pratiyogita Darpan
  3. Environmental Studies from Crisis to Cure 2nd Edition – R.Rajagoplan (Helpful for Mains)
  4. UGC NET/SET Environmental Sciences Guide – R. Gupta
  5. Textbook of Environmental Studies for Undergraduate Courses – Erach Bharucha
  6. UGC-NET: Environmental Sciences (Paper I, II & III) – R.Gupta
  7. Objective Environmental Sciences – B. B. Singh (Objective – For Prelims)
  8. Environmental Studies – Benny Joseph

PS : Use online resources like IUCN website, Website of Ministry of Environment and Forests etc. extensively. You should also check websites of national and international organisations related to ecology and biodiversity (A few suggestions include Wetlands International, WWF etc.) At this online age, no preparation is complete without using online resources. Also, check latest reports and statistics related to environment or wildlife too.

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Terms related with Environment (Quick Check List of Topics)

PS : List of basic topics to be referred in relation with Environment is listed below. (Reference : Wikipedia)

Climate change —

  • Global warming
  • Global dimming
  • Fossil fuels
  • Sea level rise
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Ocean acidification
  • Shutdown of thermohaline circulation
  • Environmental impact of the coal industry
  • Urban Heat Islands

Conservation —

  • Species extinction
  • Pollinator decline
  • Coral bleaching
  • Holocene extinction
  • Invasive species
  • Poaching
  • Endangered species

Energy —

  • Energy conservation
  • Renewable energy
  • Efficient energy use
  • Renewable energy commercialization
  • Environmental impact of the coal industry
  • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Environmental degradation —

  • Eutrophication
  • Habitat destruction
  • Invasive species

Environmental health —

  • Air quality
  • Asthma
  • Environmental impact of the coal industry
  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Electromagnetic radiation and health
  • Indoor air quality
  • Lead poisoning
  • Sick Building Syndrome
  • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Genetic engineering —

  • Genetic Pollution.
  • Genetically modified food controversies.

Intensive farming —

  • Overgrazing
  • Irrigation
  • Mono-culture
  • Environmental effects of meat production
  • Slash and burn
  • Pesticide drift
  • Plasticulture

Land degradation —

  • Land pollution
  • Desertification

Soil —

  • Soil conservation
  • Soil erosion
  • Soil contamination
  • Soil salination

Land use —

  • Urban sprawl • Habitat fragmentation • Habitat destruction
  • Nanotechnology — Nanotoxicology • Nanopollution

Nuclear issues —

  • Nuclear fallout • Nuclear meltdown • Nuclear power • Nuclear weapons • Nuclear and radiation accidents • Nuclear safety • High-level radioactive waste management

Overpopulation —

  • Burial • Water crisis • Overpopulation in companion animals • Tragedy of the commons • Gender Imbalance in Developing Countries • Sub-replacement fertility levels in developed countries

Ozone depletion —

  • CFC • Biological effects of UV exposure
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Pollution —

  • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Nonpoint source pollution • Point source pollution • Light pollution • Noise pollution • Visual pollution

Water pollution —

  • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Acid rain • Eutrophication • Marine pollution • Ocean dumping • Oil spills • Thermal pollution • Urban runoff • Water crisis • Marine debris • Microplastics • Ocean acidification • Ship pollution • Wastewater • Fish kill • Algal bloom • Mercury in fish • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Air pollution —

  • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Smog • Tropospheric ozone • Indoor air quality • Volatile organic compound • Atmospheric particulate matter• Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Reservoirs —

  • Environmental impacts of reservoirs

Resource depletion —

  • Exploitation of natural resources • Overdrafting

Consumerism —

  • Consumer capitalism • Planned obsolescence • Over-consumption

Fishing —

  • Blast fishing • Bottom trawling • Cyanide fishing • Ghost nets • Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing • Overfishing • Shark finning • Whaling

Logging —

  • Clearcutting • Deforestation • Illegal logging

Mining —

  • Acid mine drainage • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing • Mountaintop removal mining • Slurry impoundments

Toxins —

  • Chlorofluorocarbons • DDT • Endocrine disruptors • Dioxin • Toxic heavy metals • Environmental impact of the coal industry • Herbicides • Pesticides • Toxic waste • PCB • Bioaccumulation • Biomagnification• Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

Waste —

  • Electronic waste
  • Litter
  • Waste disposal incidents
  • Marine debris
  • Medical waste
  • Landfill
  • Leachate
  • Environmental impact of the coal industry
  • Incineration
  • Great Pacific Garbage Patch
  • Exporting of hazardous waste
  • Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing

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