Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that involves both the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, geology, geography, resource technology and engineering) and the social sciences (resource management and conservation, demography, economics, politics and ethics). It encompasses the surrounding conditions that affect man and other organisms. Natural and human resources are interdependent and the use or misuse of one affects the other.
The natural environment, commonly referred to simply as the environment, is a term that encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof.
The concept of the natural environment can be distinguished by components:
• Complete ecological units that function as natural systems without massive human intervention, including all vegetation, animals, microorganisms, soil, rocks, atmosphere and natural phenomena that occur within their boundaries.
• Universal natural resources and physical phenomena that lack clear-cut boundaries, such as air, water, and climate, as well as energy, radiation, electric charge, and magnetism, not originating from human activity.
The natural environment is contrasted with the built environment, which comprises the areas and components that are strongly influenced by humans. A geographical area is regarded as a natural environment (with an indefinite article), if the human impact on it is kept under a certain limited level (similar to section 1 above.
Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity of natural systems with the social challenges facing humanity. As early as the 1970s “sustainability” was employed to describe an economy “in equilibrium with basic ecological support systems.” Ecologists have pointed to the “limits of growth” and presented the alternative of a “steady state economy” in order to address environmental concerns.
The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into three constituent parts: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and sociopolitical sustainability.
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