The environment seems to be in the news daily. At its most basic level, it is the totality surrounding an organism or population, including those factors that have direct or indirect influence on the survival or evolution of an organism. The environment can consist of the entirety of the world, or be subdivided according to attribute. Thus, scientists can discuss the marine environment, the desert environment, or even the atmospheric environment.
The natural environment is that which encompasses all living things on Earth. The environment is composed of various elements including climate, weather, natural resources, plants, and animals. Under this definition, the term environment becomes synonymous with habitat. Therefore scientists may discuss the natural resources of elephants or sea urchins.
However, when the term environment appears in the news, it generally concerns the changes to the planet that have been the result of human activity. Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, the burning of carbon has dramatically changed the Earth’s environment, leading to climate change, or global warming, as it is popularly known. However, this transformation of the environment threatens the extinction of the human race. Efforts to reduce carbon emissions have been stymied by politicians around the globe. The environment, as we currently know it, is changing rapidly and uncontrollably.