Few things in the universe are constant over thousands or millions of years, not the orbit of the Earth around the sun, the height of eroding mountains, the distribution of boreal forests, or the abundance of a particular species. As we shift our attention from the stellar and global to the regional and local, then the more likely it is that we will encounter things that change over even short spans of time.
Dictionaries contribute to communication by providing definitions which deliver consistency of meaning. But consistency is not the same as constancy. With the passage of time, new dictionaries, or new editions of old ones, are necessary, because new subject areas develop, new terms are introduced or the meanings of words change. Examples of all of these developments are to be found in the following pages, as is to be expected in such dynamic fields of study as environment and ecology. In documenting change, dictionaries not only record developments in language and human endeavour, but also reflect the reality of the natural world.
As this dictionary goes to press it is perhaps global climatic change and the high rate of extinction of species which are the best exemplars of this. Change can be a challenge to those with an interest in ecology or the environment, as that interest rightly engenders a commitment to seek to conserve what we know and value. It can also create tensions between competing interests within the same field, as conflict between the protection of bird life and the perceived need for offshore wind farms has illustrated. But the entities we are aware of are more than features in their own right, they are also the products of fundamental processes which seem remarkably constant over time. These processes, such as glaciation, erosion, mutation, evolution, competition and decay have created the landscapes, communities, plants and animals we observe and study. As ecologists and environmentalists it is primarily these processes which we study, and it is perhaps these which we should value and conserve as much as their temporary products. This shift in emphasis may be one of the future developments in thinking in ecology and environment and a change to be recorded in later editions of this dictionary.
Dr John Harvey Secretary, Eurosite
Was this article helpful?
Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.