Environmental Science and Boiling Environmental Issues Down
As the pursuit of oil becomes more extensive, the scale of natural disturbances more vastly intensified, and the effect of human-made catastrophes more devastating, the Earth seems to be becoming increasingly more active–each event is becoming more interconnected, and, on an international scale, the pattern of global disturbances seems to be accelerating, making Environmental Science essential in understanding the planet’s extreme behaviour.
Environmental Science, dedicating itself to the study of environmental systems, uses the physical, chemical, and biological sciences to study and solve environmental problems. Environmental scientists work on developing an understanding of the earth’s processes, and further attempt to evaluate and mitigate environmental problems like pollution control, natural resource management, the effects of global climate, and the development of alternative energy systems.
Environmental Science uses the study of the Earth’s systems, for instance the atmospheric system or the biosphere system, to observe how the systems interact–the understanding of how these systems interact can contribute beneficial information in the evaluation process for solving such environmental issues as climate change, oil spills, pollution, and natural resource management. As an example, one of the major environmental events which spurred the need for and development of Environmental Science included the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, which poured an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel and onto the beaches of Santa Barbara County in Southern California over a ten day period. Events such as this one forced themselves into the public eye, increasing public awareness of environmental issues and their detrimental effects, as well as creating a newly urgent demand for environmental scientists. Environmental scientists would be able to use their knowledge of global systems to understand how the oil would spread through water systems, how it would be absorbed into the ground, how it would affect natural ecosystems, plant and animal life, how it would be absorbed into the atmosphere, and what long-term residual effects would be left in the wake of the disaster.
Environmental Science was born of events such as the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, then considered to be the largest oil spill in US waters and now ranking in third place after the 1989 Exxon Valdes and 2010 Deepwater Horizon spills, and the 1969 ‘catching fire’ of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. Development was further encouraged by Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962 documenting the detrimental effects of pesticides on natural ecosystems, particularly on birds. The growing visibility of the extreme damages to the environment which occurred at the hands of human endeavors, and the knowledge of the residual risks which threaten mankind along with his environment lent themselves to the creation of this then-new field of study which enabled scientific investigations into the intricacies and interconnectedness of the environment itself.
Environmental science is driven by the continuing need for the exploration into complex environmental problems, the enforcement of environmental laws and protocols governing and protecting the environment as a living body, and by the necessity of activating public awareness and setting in motion the actions which are crucial to the resolution of environmental problems.