Celebrating Our Environmental Scientists
Happy Earth Science Week!
Environmental scientists make decisions affecting us all, by applying some simple concepts learned in high school, if not earlier. Consider the water cycle; this is the concept wherein water passes from clouds in the sky, to water on the ground for plants, streams and aquifers, and ultimately back into the atmosphere as a result of evaporation and transpiration. We all learn this in school science class.
As resource managers, environmental scientists make decisions simply through measuring each component of the hydrologic cycle so that the effect of an artificial decision may come to be appreciated as differing from nature. For example, in a natural watershed, the differing components of the hydrologic cycle can be assumed to be in balance. While there can be wet years and dry years, each component of the cycle reacts in kind to the relative abundance or scarcity of water. However, a man-made change (i.e., pumping water out of a well or a lake for human consumption, industrial use or irrigation) can cause a local or even regional hydrologic imbalance.
Environmental scientists have the job of informing policy makers, politicians and the public at large of the hydrologic imbalance arising from land and water resources decision-making. Even more beneficially, we have developed sophisticated computer programs and techniques to model land and water resources. There models allow the prediction of imbalances before they happen, so that environmental science can be forecasted accurately and weighed proactively before irrevocable decisions are made.
In this manner, a solid education in fundamental earth science leads to better management and decision-making affecting the environment for us all, now and in the future.