Environmental Science

The environment is Science: 

The billion dollar question is whether Environment is a Science? The answer is in the affirmative (yes) since it is concerned with the study of both living and non- living beings on the globe. Environmental Science is a new subject, which was evolved 30 years ago. It witnessed tremendous growth and development in the recent past.


Meaning and Definition:

The term ‘Science’ means “systematized knowledge” or “knowledge ascertained by systematic observation, experiment and reasoning”. Goode and Hatt defined: “Science is an accumulation of systematised knowledge”. The word “knowledge” refers to the goal of science, while the word ‘systematic’ refers to the method that is used in reaching that goal. According to L.L. Bernard, “Science may be defined in terms of six major processes that take place within it. These are testing, verification, definition, classification, organization. orientation. which includes prediction and application”. According to Aristotle. “Science begins, when, from a great number of experiences one general conception is formed, which will embrace all similar cases”.

Science is of two kinds, namely: 1. Physical Science; and 2. Social Science. Physical Science includes both physical and natural/ biological science. The latter (the natural or biological science) deals with living organisms while the latter (the physical science) deals with the non-living physical world. The other branch i.e. Social Science deals with the man and society. Eg.: Sociology, Economics, History etc.

The environment is a science, connected with both physical and social sciences and hence it deals with both the living and non-living organisms. Majority of the physical and social scientists agree/admit that the environment is a science since it fulfils all characteristic features of science.

The statement that “Environment a Science” can be further strengthened for the following reasons:

  1. The study of environment aims to suggest appropriate solutions to eradicate environmental problems. The environmentalists take the assistance of physical and social sciences in the scientific investigation.
  2. Like other scientists, environmentalists also undertake experiments to calculate the volume of effluents and their impact on ecology, animals and human beings.
  3. The study is proved to be successful as a science in explaining various causes of environmental pollution and the necessary solutions for controlling the same.
  4. Preparation of hypothesis is a pre-requisite for the study of a social phenomenon. (The expression ‘hypothesis’ is an imaginative idea or guess, which forms the basis for investigation. Goode and Hatt defined it as “a proportion, which can be put to test to determine validity”). Like a researcher or a social scientist, the environmentalist also prepares hypothesis for the study of an environmental problem.       
  5. Like other sciences, the study of Environment involves the collection of data from industries to calculate the volume of effluents and their impact on the environment.

Advantages of Environmental Science:

Following are the advantages of the study of Environmental Science:

  1. The main object of the study is to ascertain various cases for environmental pollution and to suggest necessary solutions to control the same.
  2. Environmentalists enlighten/warn people from time to time to take necessary precautions against the threat of environmental pollution.
  3. Environmental protection has been accepted and protected all over the world. The Supreme Court of India, in interpreting Art. 21 of Constitution said that “Right to life under Art. 21 also includes “right to live with fresh air, (unpolluted air to breathe), water (uncontaminated water to drink) and land”.
  4. The subject also aims to teach ethics. Ethics means ”Science Of morals concerned with human conduct and character”.
  5. Environmental pollution increases the crime rate. The study envisages the pollution control and hence, reduces the crime rate and ensures social security.
  6. The study of environmental science is of great significance and of global importance and drew the attention of all concerned including the judiciary. In India, the Supreme Court and High Courts under Articles 32 and 226 respectively are entertaining the writ petitions pertaining to environmental pollution as the petitions of Public Interest Litigation (The Supreme Court in M,   C. Mehta and Another vs. Sri Ram Foods and Fertilizer Industries and others, (Oleum Gas Leak case) AIR 1987 SC 965, evolved the principle of ‘Absolute Liability’. In Kamalnath vs. Union of India, (1997) SCC 388, the court evolved Public Trust Doctrine and delivered landmark judgments in various cases evolving principles of great significance and public importance).

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