Report – EV1001 – What is Environmental Science

What Is Environmental Science ??

Stefan Mårtensson, 990812

The word environment is most commonly used when we are talking about human interactions with our surroundings, but the word environment, means broadly, what goes around in the surroundings, – meaning all living and dead materials that interfere in some way, with an individual’s existence – in the range from of an individual organism up to the whole biosphere.

Other factors like heat, light and gravity, are also part of the environment. For us humans, cultural factors may also be included.

So an environmental issue, is an issue of what ever may interact with any sort of species.

A pressing environmental problem that still is under investigation by scientists is the greenhouse-effect, the principle of the effect is that the incoming solar radiation hits the earth surface, and the surface gives off infrared radiation, or heat, that gases keep the heat to the ground. It got it’s name from the principle of an greenhouse, that also traps it’s heat.

The effect worries the Environmental scientists though they fear that the global warming are due to human activities and could make Earth’s surface warm up, and even a small change in the average temperature on Earth, could lead to melting of the polar icecaps and hence a rise in sea level, along with other serious environmental disturbances.

One of the most important gases is water vapor and it’s classified as a “greenhouse” gas. It is one of the reasons why humid regions, like the tropics, experience warmer nights than do dry regions. But we should not think that the warmer climate is all due to the greenhouse-effect, because CO2 has played an major roll in past climate changes. In the recent decades there has been a global increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, mostly due to the burning of fossil fuels.

If the other factors of Earth’s present climate would remain about the same, the CO2 increase should raise the average temperature at the surface. As the atmosphere warmed, the amount of H2O would probably also increase ( warm air can hold more water, than cold ). This could continue in an vicious circle.

But we are not doomed yet, because it can be solved on a very environmental way, though if we got an increased cloud cover over the earth, and the phytoplankton increased there absorption of CO2, this would act like, turning off the radiator, whish would give us lower temperatures.

This is an area of research that is far from finished, the cycling of carbon through the environment, and particular about the role of our oceans and how they are connected to the atmospheric carbon cycle.

Despite these uncertainties, many scientists still have the view that the rise of temperature during the last 20 years is a result of the greenhouse effect.

Most major Western industrial nations have agreed to decrease or at least not increase their CO2 emissions during the -90s.

CFCs is one of the un-environmental gases that attack the ozone layer and contribute therefor to the greenhouse effect, because the ozone layer protects the growth of ocean phytoplankton.


Enger, E. D., et al., (1988), Environmental Science, 2d ed.

ReVelle, (1988), Charles and Penelope, Environment, 3d ed.

Bolin, Bert, et al., (1986), The Greenhouse Effect, Climatic Change and Ecosystems

Moss, M., and Rahman, S., (1986), Climate and Man’s Environment

Seitz, F., (1990), Scientific Perspectives on the Greenhouse Problem

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