Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet 8th Edition
What Is Environmental Science?
Environmental science is a group of sciences that attempt to explain how life on the Earth is sustained, what leads to environmental problems, and how these problems can be solved.
Why Is This Study Important?
- We depend on our environment. People can live only in an
environment with certain kinds of characteristics and within
certain ranges of availability of resources. Because modern
science and technology give us the power to affect the
environment, we have to understand how the environment
works, so that we can live within its constraints.
- People have always been fascinated with nature, which is, in its
broadest view, our environment. As long as people have written,
they have asked three questions about ourselves and nature:
What is nature like when it is undisturbed by people?
What are the effects of people on nature?
What are the effects of nature on people?
Environmental science is our modern way of seeking answers to these questions.
– We enjoy our environment. To keep it enjoyable, we must understand it from a scientific viewpoint.
– Our environment improves the quality of our lives. A healthy environment can help us live longer and more fulfilling lives.
– It’s just fascinating.
What Is the “Science” in Environmental Science?
Many sciences are important to environmental science. These include biology (especially ecology, that part of biology that deals with the relationships among living things and their environment), geology, hydrology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, and soil science.
How Is Environmental Science Different from other Sciences?
– It involves many sciences.
– It includes sciences, but also involves related nonscientific fields that have to do with how we value the environment, from environmental philosophy to environmental economics.
– It deals with many topics that have great emotional effects on people, and therefore are subject to political debate and to strong feelings that often ignore scientific information.
What Is Your Role as a Student and as a Citizen?
Your role is to understand how to think through environmental issues so that you can arrive at your own decisions.
What Are the Professions That Grow Out of Environmental Science?
Many professions have grown out of the modern concern with environment, or have been extended and augmented by modern environmental sciences. These include park, wildlife, and wilderness management; urban planning and design; landscape planning and design; conservation and sustainable use of our natural resources.
Goals of This Book
Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet provides an up-todate introduction to the study of the environment. Information is presented in an interdisciplinary perspective necessary to deal successfully with environmental problems. The goal is to teach you, the student, how to think through environmental issues.
We must do more than simply identify and discuss environmental problems and solutions. To be effective, we must know what science is and is not. Then, we need to develop critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is so important that we have made it the focus of its own chapter, Chapter 2. With this in mind, we have also developed Environmental Science to present the material in a factual and unbiased format. Our goal is to help you think through the issues, not tell you what to think. To this purpose, at the end of each chapter, we present “Critical Thinking Issues.” Critical thinking is further emphasized throughout the text in analytical discussions of topics, evaluation of perspectives, and integration of important themes, which are described in detail later.
The approach of Environmental Science is interdisciplinary in nature. Environmental science integrates many disciplines, including the natural sciences, in addition to fields such as anthropology, economics, history, sociology, and philosophy of the environment. Not only do we need the best ideas and information to deal successfully with our environmental problems, but we also must be aware of the cultural and historical contexts in which we make decisions about the environment. Thus, the field of environmental science also integrates the natural sciences with environmental law, environmental impact, and environmental planning.
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