Environmental science, interdisciplinary academic field that draws on ecology, geology, meteorology, biology, chemistry, engineering, and physics to study environmental problems and human impacts on the environment. Environmental science is a quantitative discipline with both applied and theoretical aspects and has been influential in informing the policies of governments around the world.
Ecology, also called bioecology, bionomics, or environmental biology, study of the relationships between organisms and their environment. Some of the most pressing problems in human affairs—expanding populations, food scarcities, environmental pollution including global warming, extinctions of plant and animal species, and all the attendant sociological and political problems—are to a great degree ecological.
Geology, the fields of study concerned with the solid Earth. Included are sciences such as mineralogy, geodesy, and stratigraphy. An introduction to the geochemical and geophysical sciences logically begins with mineralogy, because Earth’s rocks are composed of minerals—inorganic elements or compounds that have a fixed chemical composition and that are made up of regularly aligned rows of atoms.
Biology, study of living things and their vital processes. The field deals with all the physicochemical aspects of life. The modern tendency toward cross-disciplinary research and the unification of scientific knowledge and investigation from different fields has resulted in significant overlap of the field of biology with other scientific disciplines. Modern principles of other fields—chemistry, medicine, and physics, for example—are integrated with those of biology in areas such as biochemistry, biomedicine, and biophysics.