129. Main Components of the environment
The environment is the world around us. This includes both the living and the non-living.How do we distinguish these two components of our living environments? What are the relations between them?I. Living beingsAll living beings are born, live longer or shorter and die. All living things consume water and nutrients from their living environment to meet their body’s needs and grow. However, it is not always easy to spot that a living being is feeding. In fact, certain living beings stop feeding at certain periods of their lives (the groundhog that hibernates, the trees that lose their leaves in winter) and the plants feed in a not very visible way. The ability to move also called locomotion does not distinguish between the living and the non-living. The air moves in the form of wind, and we cannot consider the wind as alive! At first glance one may think that breathing concerns all living beings. But some microbes like the tetanus agent, live in an anaerobic environment (without oxygen) and do not breathe. The fauna corresponds to all the animals, the flora to all the plants. All living things have the ability to reproduce, to ensure offspring. This capacity is enough to characterize it.II. The non-livingThe non-living cannot reproduce. It includes mineral components (gaseous atmosphere, water, rocks), elements from the living and human productions.1. The mineral componentsThe gaseous atmosphere contains different gases: about four-fifths of nitrogen, one-fifth of oxygen, traces of carbon dioxide and other gases, water vapor and more. Water may be soft or salty, frozen, liquid or gaseous. It occupies four-fifths of the earth’s surface. It is a fundamental constituent of the environment. Soil is the thin layer between the atmosphere and the subsoil. It comes from the decomposition of living beings after their death and the degradation of the rocks of the subsoil. The base contains rocks that differ depending on where you are and the conditions that prevail there.2. The elements resulting from the living and the human productionsA bird’s feather, a piece of wood, a leaf fallen from a tree, etc. and all the corpses of animals are no longer part of the living because they are no longer able to reproduce. All human productions are part of the non-living: a painting, a computer, a building, a car, etc.III. Relationships between the components of the environment• Living beings establish relationships with each other: males and females of the same species breed (deer and doe);    some parents take care of their young (the whale, the scorpion, the “earwig” or forceps);    all living things, with the exception of plants, feed on other living beings (the rabbit eats carrots, the owl eats mice, the mushroom feeds on decomposed matter);    plants are home to animals (the jay nests in an oak tree).• Living beings also establish relationships with the mineral world: they drink water, breathe the air that surrounds them, use the soil or rocks as a support to fix themselves or as a point of support to move.