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2 Tutorials that teach Applying Environmental Science
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Applying Environmental Science

Applying Environmental Science

Author: Sophia Tutorial

Determine the environmental action a certain group would most likely make.

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what's covered
In this tutorial, we're going to cover the topic of applying environmental science. We will discuss environmental science and technology, what applying environmental science looks like in different contexts, and what scientific application can look like in the big picture.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Science and Technology
  2. Applications of Environmental Science
    1. Scientists
    2. Government Agencies
    3. Private Organizations
    4. Nonprofit Organizations
  3. Human Application of Environmental Science

1. Science and Technology

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.

Science Technology
Plant Windmill
What exists in the natural world What can be changed in the natural world

2. Applications of Environmental Science

Let's discuss what applying environmental science looks like in a few different realms.

2a. Scientists

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.

Sea Level Rise

2b. Government Agencies

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.

Clean Water Act Rules

2c. Private Organizations

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.

Fabric Production Floor

2d. Nonprofit Organizations
Nonprofits, like the Natural Resources Defense Council, studied the human and ecological impacts of water resource degradation and decided to promote safe drinking water in developing nations. The Nature Conservancy studied the importance of undeveloped land to ecosystem health and spent time and money securing a wilderness area in Maine for protection.


3. Human Application of Environmental Science

The public can use environmental science to inform their decisions.

  • A person studying the impacts of climate change can then decide to donate to a candidate running on the platform of regulation to reduce climate change.
  • People could discover, through a scientific report, that a nearby company's practices were polluting waterways, and they could then get others to sign a petition to make that company stop their pollutive activities.

In the end, science can point us to the facts, but it is up to humans to interpret and take action on those facts.


Science 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.

We talked about science and technology, what it means to apply environmental science in various contexts, and we discussed the difference between science and human application.

Source: Adapted from Sophia instructor Jensen Morgan, SEA LEVEL RISE CC HTTP://BIT.LY/1FC4ZDH