Imagine this, my dear friends. It is a casual day. Bella has just ruined my favourite chair (again!), and Kiwi is busy imitating Bella’s meowing to add to the humour. As I reach for the spray bottle to give Bella a water warning, something hits me. No, not Bella this time, thank God! It was a thought, an understanding. This is exactly why we need environmental science. To understand our environment better, to preserve it for mischievous Siamese cats and chatty parrots.
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, including physics, chemistry, biology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science and geography to study the environment, and the solution to environmental problems. Everything that surrounds us, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, they are all part of the environment. Even Bella and Kiwi, in their own specific and hilarious ways, contribute to the environment. How’s that for a working definition?
The one thing I've learned from having Bella and Kiwi around is that we're interconnected. Bella will eventually discover that the spray bottle is for water, and Kiwi will… well, Kiwi will probably always get a laugh out of it. But we all share this space, and we all affect each other. Just as we witness this interconnection at home, environmental science helps us understand the interconnection between different aspects of the environment.
Everything that we do has an impact on the environment. Cutting down forests for paper affects the atmosphere and climate. Spilling oil in the ocean affects marine life. Removing mountains for mining affects the geography and can cause earthquakes. And well, getting angry at Bella for ruining the chair, can affect the mood of the entire household (Kiwi included).
Now, don’t get me wrong, folks. I like a good scare from a Stephen King novel just like the next guy. But the truth is, environmental issues are no fiction and they're scarier than any horror book you'll find. So let's talk about them (in a less cryptic way).
Environmental issues are practically getting a direct line to the horror show – pollution, deforestation, resource depletion, climate change... the list goes on. Now, I don't know about you, but I like my fresh air and I like my Bella and Kiwi to have green grassy spaces to explore. So, these subjects are not to be taken lightly. Pollution changes the quality of air we breathe, water we drink, soil in which our food grows. It makes Bella’s fur dirty, Kiwi’s feathers sooty, and can potentially harm them drastically!
So, here I am, talking to you about all these scary things, and you might be thinking, "Kieran, what do we do?" Well, dear friends, that's where our caped (or rather lab-coated) heroes come in - the environmental scientists.
These brave folks are the ones studying all these intricacies of nature, finding the causes of these environmental issues, and looking for solutions. They are understanding how all organisms interact with the ecosystem, how we can sustain our natural resources, and how to restore the environment. For Bella and Kiwi, for you and me, for all on this beautiful blue planet.
Now, you think I'll just talk about all this and let you off the hook without contributing? Not a chance, my friends. We need all hands on deck. We can't leave it all to our environmental scientists.
And we don't need to wear lab coats or get doctorate degrees to contribute. I know I certainly didn't. We can start by simple things like recycling or minimising waste. We can plant trees and limit our energy consumption. We can educate ourselves and our kids (and our pets too, why not?) about nature and its importance. As Kiwi often reminds me, every voice, no matter how small or feathery, counts.
Finally, I'd like to talk about the big 'restoration' question. Can we really restore our environment? Well, first let me tell you, Bella doesn’t give up when she messes up. She moves on, with high spirits and a majestic tail - her spirit always ready for the next challenge. And that’s exactly what we need when confronting the task of restoration.
We need to restore not just in the sense of going back to how things were before. Restore in the sense of reconsideration and reestablishment of – respect for nature, sustainable practices, compassion for all beings. That’s 'restoration' for me - Bella and Kiwi thriving in a healthy environment, running around the house, bickering, and just ... being happy. Now isn’t that an Eden we all wish for?