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Environmental Science + Social Justice

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary science that explores the world we inhabit. The areas of environmental science that explores; ecology, geology, biology, and chemistry. These subject matters all contribute to an increased understanding of our impact on our environment. Professionals in this field often become scientists or researchers. Others pursue environmental science careers in education, law, and government.

Fifth Wave exposes its students to environmental science from a holistic and interdisciplinary perspective. We are teaching from a position of local or/and cultural values rooted in empathy, inclusion, belonging, and dignity. The use of case studies provides an opportunity to understand the complexity of the science and the social challenges addressed in environmental science and policy.

Environment Science + Policy

Objective. Sound environmental policy is fully dependent upon sound science. However, we have little scientific knowledge of the driving forces behind environmental change. We use the well-known I = PAT formulation (environmental impacts are the multiplicative product of population, affluence, and technology) as a framework to assess the relative impacts of driving forces.

Methods. The concept introduction of plasticity (the quality of being easily shaped or molded)—the potential for each factor to vary, particularly because of purposive human action (e.g., policy)—to fine tune our understanding of how each factor can influence different impacts. We illustrate plasticity by assessing each driving force for a variety of environmental impacts.

Results. We demonstrate that population, affluence, and technology have different potentials for mitigating different types of impacts and that no one factor is of greater importance than the others.

Conclusions. We conclude that plasticity measures can guide policymakers toward identifying and prioritizing those environmental problems most responsive to policy solution.

Water pollution is one area that environmental science drills down to exam the intersection of cause and effect. Water pollution is a common term used to describe any contamination of bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, or wetlands with substances that can pose threats to human health or the natural environment. Pollution in these waterways is a significant source of death and disease worldwide, especially in developing nations.

Clean Water

Clean Water: Safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires we invest in adequate infrastructure, provide sanitation facilities, and encourage hygiene. Protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems is essential.

Ensuring universal safe and affordable drinking water involves reaching over 800 million people who lack basic services and improving accessibility and safety of services for over two billion.


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