Fundamental Principles of Environmental Science
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Defining Environmental Science
Environmental Science refers to the branch of science that deals with the study of the relationship between human lifestyle, activities and the environment. In addition, environmental science combines concepts and practices in fields as ecology and biology. Moreover, at present time, environmental science also involves other disciplines which are the relatively new studies in global sustainability. The fundamental principle of environmental science, in less complex terms and conceptualization, is that human activities affect the conditions of the environment and vice versa. Moreover, environmental science is concerned with the preservation of the environment and the identification of problems or issues so as to provide timely solutions to mitigate the risks of environmental degradation.
Science, Technology, and the Environment
The relationship between science and technology is complementary, such that the outcomes and contributions of science to the academic community contribute to the development of technology and vice versa. Consequently, the outcomes of integrating scientific research and technological development contribute to the resolution of environmental problems. Science plays an important role in helping scholars in the field of environmental science to investigate events or phenomena in the environment. Scientific research leads to informative outcomes that identify the conditions of the environment, existing and emerging problems, and the impact of these current conditions to human life. The information gleaned from extensive research is coordinated to experts in the field of technology. Consequently, scholars in the field of technology attempt to address identified problems or issues concerning the environment using different forms of technology. The outcomes of scientific research could also lead directly to guidelines on how technology could be improved whether the outcomes will be used for environmental purposes or not. Therefore, the relationship between science, technology, and the environment mirrors is that of the problem-solution process. The environment links science and technology together because scientific research could be used to identify problems in the environment and technology could be applied to solve those problems. In addition, technology could be used to develop effective systems to continually monitor and evaluate environmental conditions (Cone & Hayes, 1980; Constanza & Jorgensen, 2002).
The concept of sustainability is highly important due to existing environmental problems that affect us on a global scale. The continuous degradation of nature and the environment and the depletion of energy sources pose great risks to the future of human race. Environmental sustainability helps to mitigate the risks and threats in environmental degradation and energy depletion by focusing on ways and means through which we can sustain remaining natural resources. Environmental sustainability also involves a variety of solutions and processes that various organizations, institutions, and industries could implement or adopt so they can contribute to the sustenance and preservation of existing natural and energy resources. For instance, business organizations could implement sustainability practices by controlling waste management and limiting their carbon footprint. Households, on the other hand, can do the same by adopting household waste management practices. Overall, environmental sustainability encapsulates a series of principles, practices, and strategies for the sustenance and preservation of energy and natural sources that various sectors and industries could adopt so we can prolong the availability and viability of the environment (Young, 2012).
In addition, environmental sustainability helps us determine how other fields and the history of human practices affect environmental conditions. Mass tourism, for instance, severely affects sustainability in developing countries (Dodds & Butler, 2009). Monitoring patterns of tourism and the condition of the environment in these areas would help us understand how to mitigate the impact of tourism on environmental conditions.
Human Values and Sustainability
Since environmental sustainability is largely the responsibility of human beings and we can only maintain and preserve nature if we make an effort to do so, we can link human values and sustainability. The value that human beings place on the environmental and natural resources influenced environmental sustainability. If we resolve to become irresponsible human beings who do not care about the preservation of the environment, then we will not be able to sustain and preserve our natural resources. Dumping wastes in water sources is a major problem that disrupts marine ecosystems. If we continue to do so, we will then not be able to preserve water sources. On the other hand, if we act responsibly by controlling, regulating, and preventing the dumping of wastes in bodies of water, then we can take one step towards environmental sustainability. The same concepts apply to other environmental issues, human activities and lifestyles. Overall, the lack of discipline and wasteful lifestyle are major problems that must be addressed so we can adopt sustainability practices personally.
Environmental Hazards and Human Health
The conditions of the environment greatly affect human health. Oil spills and nuclear leaks, for instance, contaminate water sources. When human beings consume contaminated water, they acquire various diseases such as cancer. Moreover, pregnant women, especially those who consume water contaminated with nuclear substances, consequently give birth to infants with deformities and other diseases (Helgen, 2012). Air pollution, on the other hand, leads to diseases that affect the lungs due to the contaminated air we breathe. Diseases brought about by the intake of heavily polluted air include lung cancer and bronchitis among others (Colditz & Hunter, 2000). Overall, the conditions in the environment not only lead to the degradation of natural resources. Since human beings are part of the ecosystem, they are also affected by environmental hazards because these lead to a series of diseases that human being acquire due to their exposure to pollutants, contaminants, and other foreign substances that harm the environment.