What is Environmental Science? • Earth.com

What is Environmental Science?

Environmental science is a science that contains a wide range of scientific disciplines. These disciplines are grouped together based on the natural environment which they encompass and interact with. These sciences include physical, chemical, and biological components. Environmental science provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the environmental systems. The most common way environmental science is studied is through the work of one individual or small team drawing on the published work of many other scientists throughout the world.

Environmental science is based on the impact of human actions upon terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and develops ideas and plans for restoring these ecosystems. Environmental scientists also help planners develop and construct buildings and other modules to help benefit water resources and efficient land usage. Environmental research is commonly conducted among many different interdisciplinary sciences to produce one goal. Since most environmental issues deal with human activities, study of economics, law and social sciences are often used in conjunction with environmental science.

Environmental science deals with a wide range of issues including: climate change, conservation, biodiversity, water quality, soil and groundwater contamination, natural resources, waste management, development, disaster reduction, and various pollutions. While the environment has been studied since as long as science has been around, only recently (1960s and 1970s) has it become an active mainstream scientific investigation. Growing public awareness of environmental issues and a need for action is one factor in the growth of environmental science to what it is today.

Environmental sciences pertaining to the atmosphere examine the phenomena of the Earth’s gaseous outer layer and the relation it has to other systems. Atmospheric sciences is comprised of
meteorological studies, greenhouse gas phenomena, atmospheric dispersion modeling of airborne contaminants, sound propagation phenomena related to noise pollution, and even light pollution.

Other environmental sciences include environmental chemistry, geosciences, environmental geology, environmental soil science, and volcano phenomena. Hydrology and oceanography can sometimes be linked to environmental science. With all environmental sciences, many other disciplines are utilized and are needed in the issues pertaining to our environment.

In common usage, environmental science and ecology are often used in conjunction with one another, but technically, ecology refers to only the study of organisms and their interactions with each other and the environment. Ecology could be considered a subfield of environmental science, which could involve purely chemical, or public health issues that ecologists are unlikely to study. There is considerable overlap between the work of ecologists and other environmental scientists.
Image Credit: NASA/Wikipedia

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