Tap to Read ➤

What is Environmental Science?

Tilottama Chatterjee
This write-up will answer your question about what environmental science is all about.
As the population grows, the earth and its environment are involved in a struggle to meet the ever-increasing needs of humans, which have a widespread impact on the delicate balance between man and nature.
Environmental science is the study of the interactions between the living and non living constituents of the environment, problems with specific emphasis on the role of humans, and the solutions to these problems.
In the current scenario, with the world just about waking up to the damaging effects that our daily lives have on the earth's natural reserves, understanding the earth's processes, studying sustainable alternative energy sources, and reducing emissions are just a few of the subjects that are under research under the wide umbrella of environmental issues.


Concerns about man's tendency to exploit the earth and her natural reserves has been evidenced through the ages, with historical manuscripts dating as far back at the 16th century voicing warnings about rampant exploitation with little focus on repleting destroyed reserves, the effects of pollution, and the importance of the preservation of natural habitat.
Many of these warnings were ignored, and conditions worsened until they reached the situation in which we are right now, where the cumulative effects of centuries of neglect and overuse with disregard for consequence have brought us. The evolution of this science is revealed in the given major events and attributed to:

Thomas Malthus

As far back as 1798, Thomas Malthus released his 'Doctrine of Population Growth and Resource Scarcity', in which he emphasized that while agricultural growth was increasing at an arithmetic rate, population was increasing exponentially.

John Stuart Mill

In his 'Theory of the Steady State of Economy', published in 1848, Mill voiced his concerns about population growth rates, over-consumption, and distribution of wealth.

Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau emphasized the benefits of leading a simple life, which reduces the impact on the environment, in his work 'Walden'.
The works of these noted minds lead to the Conservation Movement, under which national parks and sanctuaries were created and identified. Clubs and organizations, like the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society were formed for the protection of the environment and endangered species.
Following this came the Environmental Movement; Rachel Carson's controversial 'Silent Spring' (1962), where she warned about destruction of the environment caused by pollution created by the human beings, Paul Ehrlich's 'Population Bomb' (1968), for the destruction of the environment owing to rising human needs and the cascading effect that was to follow.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace was founded in 1969, and the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970. There was also widespread public appeal to save the environment and governments began passing regulations, like the EPA and Clean Air Act in 1970, and the Clean Water Act in 1972.
Finally came the Sustainability Movement, within which we now fall, with serious concerns regarding escalating issues like the ozone layer depletion, animal extinction, climate change, global warming, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon footprints, and fast depleting energy reserves. These are the primary concerns related to environmental science.
This science and technology are closely linked, as advances in one of them can actually help in the sustainability of the other. Although technology and today's world with its overabundance of e-waste is one way of viewing the problem, it is also concerned with the building of hybrid cars.
For example, or with studying the possibilities of alternate energy sources, and a number of ways in which sustainability can become the norm instead of a rising concern. As everyday citizens, it's important to educate ourselves about the ways in which simple everyday lifestyle changes can reduce the damaging effects on our surroundings.
As recycling becomes commonplace and more and more people become aware of the dangers that our current lives pose to the very environment that protects us, change is the need of the hour. Understanding about this phenomenon is a good step, but just a small one. So, let us help the environment in whatever small way we can, because green is the color to be.