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Introduction to Environmental Science

The term 'science' is derived from the Latin word for 'knowledge' (scientia);
the term has come to mean the systematic collection of data relating to
the observable universe and its constituent parts and processes.

The term 'environmental science' refers to a grouping of scientific

disciplines that are all concerned with the physical, chemical and
biological characteristics of the surroundings in which organisms live.
Current environmental issues and concern on environment

 It is high time for human beings to take the ‘right’ action towards saving the earth from
major environmental issues. If ignored today, these ill effects are sure to curb human
existence in the near future.

 Our planet earth has a natural environment, known as ‘Ecosystem’ which includes all
humans, plant life, mountains, glaciers, atmosphere, rocks, galaxy, massive oceans and seas. It
also includes natural resources such as water, electric charge, fire, air, climate etc.

Engineering developments are resulting in resource depletion and environmental destruction.

Modern technologies used in the engineering and manufacturing industry have a major
impact on our life in past few years. Due to the rapid changes in the engineering and
manufacturing industry have been drastic changes in the environment.
Who are to be blamed ?
Crucial environmental issues are no more a blame game. While most of us crib

about dirty air, smelly garbage or polluted water, least do we know it is “us”
who is responsible for this unfavorable circumstances leading to cautionary
environmental issues.
10 significant current environmental issues, where human beings play an
important role in its cause!!
1. Pollution
2. Climate Change
3. Global Warming
4. Deforestation
5. Overpopulation
6. Industrial and Household Waste
7. Acid Rain
8. Ozone Layer Depletion
9. Genetic Engineering
10. Urbanization (unplanned)
Importance of Environmental Science:

1. To realize that environmental problems are global

2. To understand the impacts of development on environment
3. To discover sustainable ways of living
4. To utilize natural resources efficiently:
- Provision of effective and efficient supervision
- Using the right tools to explore resources

5. To shed light on contemporary concepts such as how to conserve biodiversity:

- Supporting conservation campaigns at local levels
- Conserving power

6. To learn and create awareness about environmental problems at local, national and
international levels (a local to global approach)
The concept of sustainability and environmental ethics

Our duties towards the environment and living beings is also referred to as environmental
” Environmental ethics is a branch of applied philosophy that studies the conceptual
foundations of environmental values as well as more concrete issues surrounding societal
attitudes, actions, and policies to protect and sustain biodiversity and ecological systems.”

According to Brundtland Commission in its 1987 report “Our Common Future”,

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Therefore the goal of environmental sustainability is to conserve natural resources and to

develop alternate sources of power while reducing pollution and harm to the
Environmental ethics is maintained by the following methods

 Equitable utilization of natural resources.

 Equity among the people of rural and urban areas.
 Equity for males and females.
 Conservation of resources for future generations.
 Environmental rights of animals.
 Environmental education.
 Conservation of traditional value systems.
 Prevention of ecoterrorism.
 Use of ecofriendly items.
 Keeping the environment neat and clean.
 Avoid carry bags and plastic items.
Sustainability is essentially the relationship between the environment and
This relationship involves a physical aspect
(exploitation) and an ethical attitude.
- That relationship is affected by our technologies (a),
- understanding of the environment (b),
- understanding how exploitation affects society (c),
- understanding how exploitation affects the
environment (d), and
- how we understand our ethical attitudes about
ourselves and nature (e).

History provides plenty of evidence that dimensions (a) through (d) are inadequate for achieving sustainability.
Ethical attitudes are a critical aspect of any relationship involving humans (e), and the neglected dimension of
sustainability. This model emphasizes how technology is conceptually secondary to exploitation- determining
only our ability to, and efficiency at, exploitation. Therefore “Ethics” determine how we use technologies.
Sustainability involves five dimensions:

I. Development of efficient technologies and markets for meeting human needs

II. Understanding the state and nature of ecosystems
III. Understanding how exploitation affects ecosystems
IV. Understanding how exploitation affects human cultures
V. Understanding the meaning of normative concepts such as human needs, depriving
society, ecosystem health etc
** Progress in understanding and achieving sustainability requires addressing it as both a scientific and an ethical
issue. If sustainability is defined as “meeting human needs in a socially just manner without depriving
ecosystems of their health,” most of the words in its definition are normative or value laden. Depending on how
critical normative terms such as “human needs” and “ecosystem health” are defined, sustainability could mean
anything from “exploit as much as desired without infringing on the future ability to exploit as much as desired”
to “exploit as little as necessary to maintain a meaningful life.”