Environmental Science 14th Edition
The Role of Environmental Science
We live in a time of great change and challenge. Our species has profoundly altered the Earth. Our use of fossil fuels to provide energy is altering climate, our use of Earth’s soil resources to feed ourselves results in extinctions, overexploitation of fish populations has resulted in the population declines of many marine species, and freshwater resources are becoming scarce. At the same time we see significant improvement in other indicators. Energy-efficient and alternative energy technologies are becoming mainstream, population growth is beginning to slow, air and water pollution problems are being addressed in many parts of the world, and issues of biodiversity loss, climate change, and human health are beginning to be addressed on a worldwide basis. However, there are still major challenges and there are additional opportunities to lighten our impact on Earth. Understanding the fundamental principles that describe how the Earth’s systems work is necessary knowledge for everyone, not just scientists who study these systems. It is particularly important for political, industrial, and business leaders because the political, technical, and economic decisions they make affect the Earth.
Why “A Study of Interrelationships”?
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field. Because environmental problems occur as a result of the interaction between humans and the natural world, we must include both scientific and social aspects when we seek solutions to environmental problems. Therefore, the central theme of this book is interrelatedness. It is important to have a historical perspective, to appreciate economic and political realities, to recognize the role of different social experiences and ethical backgrounds, and to integrate these with the science that describes the natural world and how we affect it. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships incorporates all of these sources of information when discussing any environmental issue.
Environmental science is also a global science. While some environmental problems may be local in nature—pollution of a river, cutting down a forest, or changing the flow of a river for irrigation—other problems are truly global—climate change, overfishing of the oceans, or loss of biodiversity. In addition, individual local events often add together to cause a worldwide problem—the actions of farmers in China or Africa can result in dust storms that affect the entire world, or the individual consumption of energy from fossil fuels increases carbon dioxide concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere. Therefore, another aspect of the interrelationships theme of this text is to purposely include features that highlight problems, issues, and solutions involving a variety of cultures.
This text has been translated and published in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean. Therefore, students in Santiago, Shanghai, Seoul, or Seattle are learning the “hows and whys” involved in thinking and acting sustainably. At the end of the day we all share the same air, water, and one not so-big planet. It’s important for all of us to make it last.
What Makes This Text Unique?
We present a balanced view of issues, diligently avoiding personal biases and fashionable philosophies. It is not the purpose of this textbook to tell readers what to think. Rather, our goal is to provide access to information and the conceptual framework needed to understand complex issues so that readers can comprehend the nature of environmental problems and formulate their own views. Two features of the text encourage readers to think about issues and formulate their own thoughts:
• The Issues & Analysis feature at the end of each chapter presents real-world, current issues and provides questions that prompt students to think about the complex social, political, and scientific interactions involved.
The What’s Your Take? feature found in each chapter asks students to take a stand on a particular issue and develop arguments to support their position, helping students develop and enhance their critical thinking skills.
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|September 9, 2019|
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