Environmental science is the study of how living and nonliving organisms interact with their surroundings. It is inclusive of geology, sociology, climatology, biology and chemistry, just to name a few of its interdisciplinary foundations.
Why Is It Important to Study Environmental Science? Environmental science has grown in importance as the awareness of globalization has increased. Simply put, the entire world is using the earth's resources, and the study of environmental science is a means for researchers to study and hopefully solve the negative effects of human interaction on the environment. Well known areas of environmental concerns are water safety, air safety and energy safety. Man-made changes in climate are also of concern, with global warming potentially melting the ice caps and subsequently raising sea levels. Virtually anything that humans interact with has an impact on the world at large. Environmental science can then be viewed from the lens of sustainability. How populations will survive or sustain in the future is at the heart of environmental science.
How Does Studying Human Behavior Fit Into Environmental Science? When people think of environmental science, they may go directly to safety or conservation issues. There is another side to environmental science, though. Human issues, including sociology, anthropology and even psychology are a part of this interdisciplinary field and science. When water becomes scarce, will stronger countries become more aggressive to attain it? What level of economic upheaval can be expected as the southwestern United States have less and less water? Who is responsible for overpopulation in certain areas, and how will that be dealt with? How much control can governments assert over countries that over-farm or over-urbanize, leading to a lack of arable land for farming? These types of questions are also a part of environmental science and its study.
Applying Environmental Science Environmental scientists take the data they gather and use it for several different purposes. Environmental science is used to determine toxicity. This, in turn, helps countries such as the United States set measurements and standards for water, food and air safety. These standards are used to create regulations to monitor acceptable levels of pollutants or contaminants.
The environmental scientists also use data collected for risk analysis and assessment. A human health risk assessment may determine what level of exposure to a contaminant will cause health damage, or at what level a toxin can cause organ damage. Three of the most common human health risks from an environmental viewpoint are radon exposure, electromagnetic field exposure and chemical exposure from the chemical products used in an average household, such as cleaning supplies and even personal care products, according to environmental science.org.
An ecosystem risk assessment is an educated hypothesis as to what environmental damage will be done by an interaction, for how long and to how many species. Environmental scientists have long known that one negative interaction can cause a chain reaction in an ecosystem. Studying ecosystem risks and predicting results help governments and businesses determine whether to go ahead on a particular project or prepare to minimize damage. Environmental studies also look to discover new and define existing energy supplies, such as solar energy and wind power.