Environmental Studies: Learning Resources

by blackspanielgallery

Development of an environmental studies interest at an early age is important if there is to be a next generation of research scientists, and even a public able to discuss issues.

Environmental studies involve many different STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, and specific resources abound. But, prior to embarking on the path of learning, it is important to discuss the reason such studies are important.

First, the environment affects everyone, and addressing concerns allows a thoughtful person to make decisions that are consistent with a better environment. Second, it is important for people to understand the environmental issues. Much false information is spoken as though it is factual. Often the people making false assertions are not scientists. It is important to sort through the information being put out there. Indeed, it is important to have a basic knowledge in order to engage in a meaningful conversation on a topic. Finally, if a student is motivated to make an impact, an early exposure to the problems and what is known about the solutions can help that student choose a career path that could impact humanity.

Biology Can Have an Environmental Specialty

Most of the STEM subjects have an environmental specialty.  In fact, complex problems often have multiple disciplines working together to find the answers.


Often biologists and medical experts are vocal regarding how people and their health are being adversely impacted.  They can identify many environmental problems.  It is a significant contribution to finding the solutions.  The first step must be to identify the problem.  Only then can the work be focused on a solution.


Before one can specialize, one must grasp the basics of the field.  Mastery of the field cannot be avoided.  One must know basic biology before one can specialize.  Also, in order to be taken seriously there is a need for a demonstrated academic achievement in the field.  So, if the goal is to become a biologist who will work in environmental issues one must first learn biology.


Similarly, there are environmental issues that can be of concern to botanists.  In particular are the issue of deforestation, and the work needed in reforestation.  Since trees reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, there are direct connections between botany and global warming.  So, there is a place for the environmentally conscious to make an impact in botany.


Chemists Can Have an Environmental Specialty

Identifying the problems is a start, but finding the solutions is the next step.  While biologists can discuss what air and water pollutants can do harm, the removal of those pollutants requires chemistry.  Dangerous chemical compounds can be rendered harmless by having them undergo reactions that have only benign products.


One place chemistry is really important is in the ozone depletion problem.  A chlorine atom can remove an oxygen atom from the three-atom ozone molecule, lose that chlorine, and attack another ozone molecule.  Some ozone depleting compounds break into a chain of compounds with multiple products in the chain capable of ozone depletion.  Determining the interaction of molecules is part of chemistry.

Physicist Can Have an Environmental Specialty

Some of the dangers of global warming might come from biologists, since the climate can impact the ecological systems of the Earth.  But after spreading the alarm, when it comes to alternate energy sources one must turn to physics. 


Currently we should consider three alternate energy resources.  Solar energy and wind power are familiar to many of us, and the theory for these can be used in understanding basic kits that provide a deeper reading.  The third is not conducive to a hands-on study, geothermal power.  But the knowledge of this field is something that can be obtained by a student

Meteorology and Climatology Can Have an Environmental Specialty

Understanding the consequences of such things as global warming and ozone depletion is a meteorological concern.  Physicists can explain what global warming is, but how it impacts the weather and climate require specialized knowledge. 

Geologists Can Have an Environmental Specialty

Geology is important if we are to go to geothermal power.  Knowing where the Earth is warm enough close to the surface is significant in placement of power plants that are built at reduced costs.


Astronomy Can Have an Environmental Specialty

While it is not as publicized as much as it perhaps should be, the planet Venus has an atmosphere full of greenhouse gases.  The gases come from volcanic activity, not man.  However, the conditions are extreme.  The planet has a surface heated to about nine hundred degrees Fahrenheit.  This gives pause to what could happen on Earth.


Observing other bodies in the sky can often serve as a laboratory to show how bad things can really get.

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Updated: 03/13/2019, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 03/16/2019

Mathematics is essential in all STEM fields, but it is possible to nurture the interest before getting to that point. It is in tangible concepts that interest often first springs forth.

As for the Louisiana requirements, no, I know of no such requirement. Education in this state is seriously lacking, and the solution is often to throw more funding at the problem, instead of eliminating ineffective teachers. Teacher unions here oppose efforts to have teachers held accountable by giving standards they must annually meet. Instead, we give raises and encourage the bad teachers to stay because there is more money for them.

DerdriuMarriner on 03/16/2019

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the practical information and product lines.
A master naturalist training for yearly continuing education requirements indicated that mathematics is a STEM subject that particularly needs developing within environmental sciences and studies. Is that your experience?
In another but related direction, must teachers in Louisiana organize at least one meaningful watershed experience -- that must be more than just a field trip -- before students graduate from high school?

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