Science is the process of understanding, or a way of knowing, the world around us. Technology is a way of applying what we know. Science addresses and observes what exists in the natural world, while technology deals with what can be manipulated in the natural, or non-human environment, to meet human needs and wants.
|What exists in the natural world||What can be changed in the natural world|
Let's discuss what applying environmental science looks like in a few different realms.
Scientists apply environmental science by doing different things, such as measuring pH levels in various states to understand acid rain deposition and which regions are being impacted. As you can see in the graph below, scientists have measured sea level rise over time around the world, in order to understand if global climate change has impacted sea levels — which it has.
Government agencies use environmental science to do things like the BLM study, which focused on the impacts of motorized vehicles on elk populations. As a result of the study, it was determined that Slate Creek in Wyoming needed to be shut down to motorized vehicles, in order to protect wildlife in the winter.
Another government agency, the EPA, researched the impacts of industry activities in wetland ecosystems, and then through the Clean Water Act, made it illegal to dredge wetlands, an act which resulted in certain companies having to pay reparations.
Private organizations also utilize environmental science to make decisions. The outdoor gear manufacturer, Patagonia, researched the impacts of manufacturing and shipping on global climate change and structured their supply lines to minimize CO2 production. Monsanto used scientific research to state that GMO produce was not dangerous to human health.
The public can use environmental science to inform their decisions.
In the end, science can point us to the facts, but it is up to humans to interpret and take action on those facts.
EXAMPLEScience discovered electricity, however, it was the ingenuity and initiative of people that turned this discovery into a power source for lighting, created a grid system to power entire countries, as well as led to countless other technologies, like computers.
Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Jensen Morgan, SEA LEVEL RISE CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1FC4ZDH