Where are you right now as you read this article?
Are you near the sea? Take a deep breath, lick your lips, and slide your foot over the ground. When you took a deep breath did you breathe in fresh sea air or some smells of fishing? Did you taste salt on your lips and feel your feet sink into sand on the beach?
Are you in a city? Open a window and gaze outside. Take a deep breath . . . Oh! Oh! Did you just cough from traffic fumes? Do you see green grass and trees or do you need to look straight up to see the blue sky?
I’m standing in front of a chicken coop on a small farm in Iowa. With my deep breath I smelled air like chicken poops so I’ll move over to a grove of trees. Ah, with this deep breath I smell Spring. Ahcoo! Ahchoo! I just sneezed from the pollen which I breathed into my nose. I’m going to climb a tree now and look over my surroundings. I see pigs, chickens, cats and 2 dogs. I see a small brook running into a pond. I see corn and soybean fields all around a house and barn.
Which person’s eyes do you think are looking at the environment? All of us!
The environment is everything that surrounds our person. Outside near the sea you are in a natural environment. In the city you are looking at a constructed environment. On the farm I am looking at an environment that combines both the natural and the constructed.
Since we are in the Earth Science’s section, now let’s talk about the natural environment. Both living and the non-living exist as part of the environment. Plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, reptiles, fish, birds, and even worms living in the soil are all examples of living members of the environment. The non-living includes rocks, water molecules, grains of soil and sand and the chemicals which compose these parts. The living cannot live without the non-living.
Many environmental cycles are always in motion although we may not even notice. When you think about a bi-cycle do you think about balancing, riding and traveling towards a destination? Environmental cycles are in motion and contain many varied processes to reach different destinations in the cycle; a balance must be maintained.
Cycles are very easily disturbed; if disturbed, an imbalance can be quite dangerous for the environment. That is why “variables” such as pollution must not enter the environment in great amounts. Out of balance, the cycles act in unpredictable ways; the balance needed by living things in the environment is not maintained.
Types of biogeochemical cycles include the water cycle, the carbon cycle, oxygen cycle, nitrogen cycle, and the phosphorus cycle. Water is necessary for the life of beings so the importance of clean and abundant water cannot be stressed enough. The three chemicals, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, are also used in great quantities for contemporary farming and industrial methods which has caused an imbalance in the important cycles of the environment.
I hope now you understand what we mean in the earth sciences when we talk about the environment.
Environmental cycles and processes which are so important to life, work well when the cycle has reached a particular balance. Many people, scientists and engineers have been working to reduce and understand air, water and soil pollution since essential environmental cycles are so easily disturbed