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What is the Environment? Types, Importance and Functions

The environment refers to a complex web of relationships and interactions that determine an organism’s surroundings. Different types of environments correlate to different functions, organisms, and connections. Therefore, all types are distinct but all demonstrate a systematic nature. Additionally, these systems are important to humanity due to the resources they provide and the roles they fulfill. However, each type of environment has been altered by humanity in some form, leading to drastic changes to the very systems mankind depends on.

Types of Environments Explained
Environments are complex systems that determine the livability of an organism’s surroundings.

The concept of an environment is broad, covering everything from an organism’s surroundings to the larger ecosystems or constructs they’re a part of. Consequently, the environment is divided into eight main designations: natural, terrestrial, social, aquatic, underground, built, atmospheric, and space. Each is similar in the sense that they encompass particular areas, have distinctive interconnections, and often intersect with each other in some way to fulfill a role. Each additionally has a relationship with humanity, with mankind depending on distinctive functions, resources, and subdivisions for global needs, such as agriculture, water purification, and climate regulation.

Designations such as social and built settings relate purely to human dynamics and activities, whereas the natural world and its connected environments extend to all animals that have adapted to survive within them, including humans. Space is a more abstract designation and less affected by human influence due to its sheer vastness. However, it is still an important realm because of its unique elements and scientific interest.

Meanwhile, the natural world is usually synonymous with the concept of an environment. It features a combination of biotic, abiotic, and ecological functions. Four functions are of particular importance. These are the supply of resources; absorption of waste; maintenance of biodiversity, and enhancement of beauty. The functions collectively underpin the natural world’s ability to sustain life, enable human activities, and inspire connection. However, these functions are threatened by human actions and suffer from degradation, leading to increased calls for conservation efforts and better environmental care to not only curb negative effects—but to safeguard all types of environments for both present and future generations.

The article below explores the different types of environments in greater detail, including their unique characteristics, importance, and the scope of mankind’s impact.

What are the different types of environments?

The list below summarizes the eight different types of environments.

  • Natural environment: The natural world comprises all naturally occurring living and non-living elements on Earth. It is vital for sustaining life through its complex ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles.
  • Terrestrial environment: The terrestrial environment consists of diverse land-based ecosystems and biomes that provide critical habitats and support life through various functions. These spaces additionally offer essential resources critical to humans.
  • Social environment: The social environment encompasses the complex web of social dynamics that shape human interaction, behavior, and development. It operates through physical and virtual settings, cultures, relationships, and social institutions.
  • Aquatic environment: The aquatic world encompasses all water-based ecosystems, from marine habitats to freshwater systems. These ecosystems provide essential resources, support global biogeochemical cycles, and uphold biodiversity key to life on Earth.
  • Underground environment: The underground environment refers to subterranean ecosystems like caves and aquifers. It is characterized by specialized organisms and reduced abiotic elements.
  • Built environment: The built environment describes man-made constructs like buildings and roads that provide spaces for human activities. This categorization reflects modern life and emphasizes the need for sustainable development.
  • Atmospheric environment: The atmospheric environment is the Earth’s gaseous layers. Its collective function is vital for climate regulation and solar radiation protection, yet vulnerable to human-induced changes.
  • Space environment: The space environment lies beyond Earth’s atmosphere as a vast realm characterized by extreme conditions and celestial bodies. Its function as an environment is crucial for exploration and commercial endeavors with growing concerns over its preservation.

1. Natural environment

The natural environment makes up the entirety of the physical, naturally occurring world and the living and non-living elements within it. It operates through complex ecosystems where each element interacts with others within its system. These interactions fulfill many functions, including global biogeochemical cycles and the production of resources that sustain life on Earth. As a result of these functions, the natural environment’s importance to humanity cannot be understated. However, humanity has altered all natural spaces, leading to pollution, climate change, and degradation of biodiversity. Conservation efforts are now key to sustaining the natural world and its critical life-supporting systems.

The scope of the natural environment is broad, encompassing everything from vast oceans to the tiniest microorganisms. This means that most other types of environments fall under its realm except for built, social, and space environments. The natural world differs from built settings because these areas are human-made, lacking biodiversity and ecological complexity. Social dynamics are likewise distinct from the natural world because they encompass social structures rather than biotic and abiotic interactions. Meanwhile, space is extraterrestrial and lacks life-supporting atmospheres and ecosystems. Even so, the natural world and these other categorizations share the commonality of being largely negatively affected by human activities.

2. Terrestrial environment

The terrestrial environment encompasses land-based ecosystems and biomes. Diverse landscapes define terrestrial environments, including dense forests, grassy plains, and arid deserts. These spaces are distinct from other categorizations because they’re largely made up of soil, demonstrate varied access to water, and comprise about 29.2% of the Earth’s surface. Their collective function maintains ecological balance by providing habitats, regulating climate as carbon sinks, and contributing to ecological cycles that are key to sustaining life on Earth. Adding to the importance of terrestrial ecosystems is their relationship to humanity. We depend on them for agriculture, housing, and natural resources, among other necessities.

Terrestrial environments are divided into many categories, including large-scale ecological regions known as biomes. Terrestrial biomes include tundra, tropical rainforests, savannas, deserts, and more. Each biome demonstrates specific climate patterns, vegetation types, and wildlife communities, contributing to the planet’s biodiversity. For instance, tundras are characterized by cold climates and short growing seasons, while tropical rainforests demonstrate high rainfall and diverse species. Despite their differences, these terrestrial biomes share common functions like supporting life, regulating climate, and cycling nutrients.

3. Social environment

The social environment refers to the complex web of social dynamics, communities, culture, and institutions every human is a part of. Another term used to describe this type of environment is the milieu, which addresses an individual’s social surroundings. A person’s milieu extends to their physical and virtual settings where interactions occur as well as the structures and cultural norms they partake in. This type of environment functions by providing the means for socialization and contextualizing how we develop according to our settings and who we interact with. This is significant to humanity because it encompasses everything we do under a social lens, including our relationships, class standing, education, beliefs, and support systems.

Social environments are divided into various spaces and constructs. For instance, schools and workplaces are examples of physical social settings. Meanwhile, interpersonal connections may be virtual or face-to-face, though both make up a person’s milieu. Each subdivision is distinct, but all play a role in shaping a person’s behavior, personality, and opinions. Physical settings often dictate the immediate context for interactions, whereas interpersonal relationships offer the most direct and personal influence, shaping individual experiences and perspectives. Other factors such as cultural norms and social institutions determine the overarching rules and values we embody. Consequently, social environments are complex but interconnected, each influencing and shaping different spaces and constructs.

4. Aquatic environment

The aquatic environment is a broad ecological realm encompassing all water-based ecosystems. It makes up the vast majority of Earth’s surface and is estimated to be home to millions of species—with many yet to be discovered. The aquatic environment is additionally responsible for important global biogeochemical cycles like the water and carbon cycles. Furthermore, its ecosystems are vital to humanity because they provide key resources like food, fresh water, and transportation routes. However, these ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable due to human activities. Overfishing, pollution, and climate change-induced rising sea levels and temperatures pose significant threats to aquatic life and the overall health of their habitats.

Aquatic environments are often divided into two main types of ecosystems: marine ecosystems and freshwater ecosystems. Marine ecosystems are the majority, making up over 70% of the Earth’s surface and including an array of habitats such as coral reefs, deep-sea vents, and open ocean. Meanwhile, freshwater ecosystems are categorized into lentic (still water), lotic (flowing water), and wetland ecosystems. Marine and freshwater ecosystems differ in their salinity levels, types of organisms, and physical conditions. However, both are fundamental to supporting life, cycling nutrients, and providing ecological services. They additionally contribute significantly to the planet’s biodiversity and human well-being.

5. Underground environment

The underground environment comprises subterranean ecosystems beneath the Earth’s surface. Reduced abiotic elements such as light, temperature, and nutrients characterize this type of environment. Meanwhile, ecological functionality is rooted in complex interactions between said abiotic factors and the specialized subterranean organisms. The underground environment is removed from the rest of the world, but it remains important to ecology because it supports unique biodiversity and regulates groundwater systems among other functions. Additionally, it is a vital source of research for humans as it is comparatively less impacted by mankind than other types of environments. That said, the underground world is still vulnerable, with urban subterranean spaces experiencing increases in temperature, subterranean climate change, and ground deformations.

The underground environment is additionally subdivided into other ecosystems such as cave systems, aquifers, and geothermal vents. Each of these ecosystems has its own set of living organisms and abiotic factors. For instance, cave systems are dark and nutrient-scarce, while geothermal vents are dominated by extreme heat and mineral-rich waters. Furthermore, they are relatively energy-limited and isolated, unlike surface ecosystems. Even so, they remain ecologically linked to the above world due to their functions, contributing to Earth’s overall biodiversity and ecological balance as well as being interconnected through processes like water and nutrient cycles.

6. Built environment

The built environment describes artificial surroundings and man-made constructs foundational to human activity. Built environments provide space for living, working, recreation, and commerce. Additionally, other concepts such as sociology, anthropology, and resource distribution are sometimes categorized alongside built environments because of their collective reflection of and role in modern life. These concepts are further connected to the social environment, interacting with and influencing socio-cultural structures. Similarly, the built world is connected to the natural world with the former encroaching on the latter. This has led to conservation efforts aiming to create sustainable, livable spaces that respect ecological boundaries.

Another facet of the manmade world is that it isn’t subdivided into traditional categories like natural ecosystems. However, it is possible to segment it into various criteria, such as residential, commercial, industrial, and rural areas. All these areas represent the artificial world but are distinct according to their functionality and the types of activities they support. Despite these distinctions, built environments are similar to and integrate with other categorizations. For instance, they interact with natural and social systems through resource use, waste generation, and the provision of essential services, highlighting the interconnectedness of all environmental aspects.

7. Atmospheric environment

The atmospheric environment comprises the layers of gasses around the Earth and extends into space. The atmospheric realm isn’t a traditional categorization of the environment because it doesn’t encompass the complex, ecological web attributed to the natural world. Even so, it is as important as any terrestrial system because of its varied roles. These roles include but are not limited to regulating climate and weather patterns; providing oxygen; protecting against harmful solar radiation; and facilitating water and carbon cycles. However, human activities have altered the atmospheric environment, leading to issues like climate change and ozone depletion.

Adding to the atmospheric environment’s distinction is that it isn’t divided into ecosystems but layers. These layers are the troposphere (closest to Earth’s surface, where weather occurs); the stratosphere (contains the ozone layer which absorbs UV radiation); the mesosphere (where meteors burn up); the thermosphere (contains the ionosphere and reflects radio waves); and the exosphere (the outermost layer merging into space). Each layer is distinct in its composition, interaction, and role in global ecological balance. Additionally, these layers collectively shield the planet, making Earth’s surface habitable and linking closely to the terrestrial world by regulating climate and enabling cycles.

8. Space environment

The space environment refers to the expanse beyond Earth’s atmosphere. It does not fit the traditional definition of an environment as it lacks ecological complexity. Space is instead characterized by a vacuum, extreme temperatures, radiation, and microgravity. Furthermore, space functions as an expansive realm occupied by celestial bodies such as planets, stars, and asteroids. The systematic nature of space is additionally different from that on Earth, being defined by physical laws and forces rather than ecological relationships. Space is nevertheless important to humanity as it is the last frontier of human exploration and houses crucial structures such as satellites and space stations that aid life on Earth.

Another distinction of space is that it isn’t subdivided into ecosystems or similar concepts due to its largely empty vastness. However, just like natural environments on Earth, space is influenced by humans. This influence is restricted to low earth orbit and geostationary equatorial orbit, areas that are increasingly exposed to space debris. The growing concern over space debris and its management as well as space’s unique environment reflects conservation efforts on Earth—though with a focus on maintaining explorational and commercial endeavors rather than safeguarding habitats.

Why is the environment considered to be a system?

The environment is regarded as a system because it’s made up of interconnecting elements. A system is a network of parts that work with each other, forming a web of oftentimes interdependent relationships. The different types of environment function in this way with different elements interacting as part of a complex whole. This interaction shapes landscapes, defines cycles, receives inputs from external sources, and delivers outputs within the system as a response. The outputs may be essential to the function of the system or a facilitator of change. Oftentimes changes have a cascading effect—meaning when one element changes, other components within the system do too.

Terrestrial habitats exemplify the systemic nature of the environment. In grasslands, for instance, soil, grasses, herbivores, and predators form a web of life. The soil provides nutrients for grasses, which are consumed by herbivores such as antelopes. These herbivores, in turn, become prey for predators like lions. Additionally, decomposers in the soil break down dead organic matter, recycling nutrients back into the ecosystem. The loss or alteration of one of these components has the potential to cascade across the entire system, disrupting it. For example, the removal of a key predator would lead to an overabundance of herbivores, which may overgraze and degrade the grassland. This in turn leads to an ecological imbalance that would severely affect other living and non-living elements—even extending to other environments that interact with the grassland.

Are environments and ecosystems the same?

No, environments and ecosystems are not the same. The concept of an environment is broader than that of an ecosystem. It comprises the physical boundaries and conditions of a given area or the planet as a whole. These boundaries and conditions encompass living and nonliving elements—defining an ecosystem’s functions, landscape, and relationships. Meanwhile, ecosystems exist within environments. They make up a smaller but complex network of relationships between living parts and their surroundings, relying on, interacting with, and evolving alongside an environment’s ecological cycles and energy flows.

Why is the environment important?

The natural environment is important because it is responsible for the ecological functions, climate regulation, biodiversity, and resources that sustain life on Earth. Functions such as pollination and decomposition support natural nutrient cycles. These cycles are crucial for maintaining soil fertility and agriculture, enabling food security. Meanwhile, other necessary resources such as water, air, and wood are derived from our surroundings and are dependent on the interconnected relationships within the world around us. For instance, the air we breathe is purified by trees and plants, which absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Meanwhile, forests act as crucial carbon sinks, helping to regulate the climate and maintain the Earth’s atmospheric balance.

The interactions and continuation of environmental elements additionally sustain biodiversity. This provides Earth with a genetic pool that not only enables the diversity of life but stabilizes ecosystems, maintains food webs, and facilitates adaptation and disease resistance. As a result, the significance of the environment extends to our livelihoods, creating the means for us to function, build cities, raise families, create medicine, withstand pathogens, and produce the goods on which our economy depends.

How does the environment affect people’s mental health?

The environment positively or negatively influences individuals’ mental health depending on the type of environment and its conditions. The three examples listed below illustrate this.

  • Natural settings: Healthy natural settings have the potential to uplift our mood. For instance, spending time in green spaces promotes activity and socialization according to the 2022 paper “Green Spaces for Mental Disorders” by Carly Wood, Claire Wicks, and Jo Barton. This in turn reduces mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
  • Built environments: Urban spaces such as cities promote air pollution which serves to negatively impact mental health. The study “Growing Evidence for the Impact of Air Pollution on Depression” highlights this, pointing to a link between depression and high rates of particulate matter concentrations.
  • Social dynamic: Social environments are pivotal to our mental well-being, positively or negatively impacting our self-perception. For instance, support systems and household conditions degrade a person’s mental well-being if they’re exposed to abuse but will uplift them if they have a healthy social circle.

How do animals adapt to their environment?

Animals adapt to their environment through a combination of genetics and behavioral changes. Genetics plays a significant role in adaptation as it determines the types of traits animals develop that help them survive. Sudden changes in DNA structure through mutation exemplify this. For instance, the peppered moth mutated during the Industrial Revolution to have a darker coloration. This was better suited to its polluted landscape, increasing their chances of survival and reproduction. Meanwhile, genetic evolution over time enables adaptation through physiological modifications. For example, the genetic makeup of the Arctic hare enables its white winter coat, an example of phenotypic plasticity. This winter coat allows for better camouflage, helping it to avoid predators.

Behavioral changes are another method of adaptation that doesn’t necessarily correlate to genetics. Behavioral adaptations are changes in an animal’s actions that increase their chances of survival. One example is bird migration. Many species of birds such as cranes or flamingos migrate to avoid the cold of winter, find better feeding grounds, or raise their young. Other animals such as wolves or lions have learned to follow the migrational patterns of their prey, both ensuring their survivability and population control of prey species.

What are the functions of the environment?

The list below summarizes the four functions of the natural environment.

  • Supplying renewable and non-renewable resources: The environment acts as a critical source of both renewable and non-renewable resources, powering our lives and requiring careful management to sustain Earth’s vitality.
  • Absorbing and managing waste materials. As a natural sink, the environment processes waste through degradation and recycling, crucial for preventing harmful build-up and maintaining ecological equilibrium.
  • Maintaining biodiversity to support life: Biodiversity underpins the environment’s ability to foster life, ensure ecosystem resilience, and provide essential services, making its conservation paramount for future sustainability.
  • Enhancing beauty and visual appeal: The environment enriches the human experience through its inherent beauty and diversity, inspiring cultural expressions and spiritual connections with the natural world.

1. Supplying renewable and non-renewable resources

The first function of the environment is to supply renewable and non-renewable resources critical to sustaining life on Earth. These resources are of particular importance to human survival as they power our cities, economies, lifestyles, agriculture, and more. We additionally describe this function as the source function as it provides all naturally occurring elements humans depend on.

Renewable resources replenish over time and consist of accessible but not always abundant elements such as solar energy, water, and timber. Meanwhile, non-renewable resources are finite and comprise elements like oil, natural gas, and coal. Such resources will eventually dwindle if not managed effectively, making them a central focus of conservation efforts. Additionally, both types of resources are essential to modern-day life, including but not limited to the creation of energy, transportation, and the creation and distribution of goods and food.

2. Absorbing and managing waste materials

The second function of the environment is to absorb and manage waste materials as part of maintaining the ecological balance. This involves the natural degradation and recycling of organic matter, pollutants, and other byproducts of life and human activities. The process is otherwise defined as the sink function because of the process of biochemical assimilation. Earth’s oftentimes fragile ecological balance would collapse without this critical function, as it helps prevent the build-up of harmful substances and supports the continual renewal of essential resources.

Two examples of waste absorption are natural processes like decomposition or the water cycle. The former facilitates the breakdown of dead organic material into simpler substances, which are then used as nutrients for plant growth and soil health. Meanwhile, the latter achieves the circulation and purification of water, distributing it across the globe and replenishing freshwater sources.

3. Maintaining biodiversity to support life

The third function of the environment is to maintain biodiversity to support life and its complex, interdependent relationships. Biodiversity refers to the array of different life forms on Earth and the ecological complexes they exist within. This diversity provides more than just variety but stability, resilience, and adaptability in the face of changes and challenges. It ensures that ecosystems recover from disturbances and continue to provide services like pollination, nutrient cycling, and climate regulation, all of which are crucial for the survival of life on Earth.

An example of where this service function comes into play is the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The Amazon is one of the most complex ecosystems on earth and is home to over 3 million species, some of which have not been documented. Its biodiversity is threatened by human activities but remains vital to a range of ecological services, including carbon sequestration, climate regulation, and serving as a gene pool for future medical and agricultural endeavors.

4. Enhancing beauty and visual appeal

The fourth and final function of the environment is to enhance the beauty and visual appeal of the natural world. This function is regarded as spiritual as it speaks to the aesthetics of our surroundings and how naturally occurring spaces uplift or inspire us. Humans are deeply connected to their environment and correspondingly find value in the tranquility of a forest or the serenity of a beach, which provides a sense of well-being, inspiration, and spiritual renewal.

We see examples of this particular function in art and tourism. Although not components of the natural world, art, and tourism nonetheless illustrate our broader appreciation for nature. For example, Claude Monet’s series Water Lilies captures the tranquil and restorative qualities of a natural pond ecosystem in his garden. Meanwhile, the Grand Canyon attracts millions of visitors each year, offering a spectacular view and serving as a testament to the environment’s ability to enhance beauty and provide visual appeal.

What are examples of the environment?

Examples depend on the type of environment you’re analyzing. Different categories relate to different systems and webs of interdependent relationships. For instance, the natural world is generally synonymous with the term environment and therefore serves as a prime example with the Amazon Rainforest acting as a representative. The Amazon is an ecosystem teeming with diverse plant and animal species that form a complex chain of connections that change according to internal and external factors. The Amazon additionally plays a crucial role in global oxygen production and carbon sequestration, exemplifying the impact of the natural world.

Other types of systems illustrate the concept of the environment. For example, the Great Barrier Reef represents the aquatic environment. It showcases a complex but vibrant marine ecosystem home to thousands of coral species and marine life, crucial for biodiversity and marine health. Meanwhile, the physical boundaries of New York City exemplify a built and social environment. The city is a testament to human interaction and modern living—illustrating a web of social dynamics, institutions, and cultural norms that define urban spaces and human society.

What are the different ways to take care of the environment?

Below are five different ways to take care of the environment.

  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle: The act of reducing, reusing, and recycling is one of the best ways to help the environment because it minimizes waste, pollution, and overconsumption. Reduce your usage of single-use products and resources like water. Reuse items where possible and recycle materials such as paper or glass to cut down on waste.
  • Conserve water: One important facet of waste reduction is the conservation of water. Wastewater contributes to pollution and the depletion of clean water resources essential for human and ecological health. Simple actions like fixing leaks, taking shorter showers, and using water-saving appliances aid in conservation.
  • Choose sustainable energy sources: Switching to renewable energy sources such as solar panels reduces our collective reliance on fossil fuels and their contributions to pollution and carbon emissions. Clean, renewable energy sources aren’t an accessible option for everyone, but for those who are able, making the switch minimizes damage to the environment.
  • Protect natural habitats: Preserving existing natural habitats and restoring damaged ones are crucial for maintaining biodiversity. Doing so helps ensure the stability and resilience of ecosystems, supports a wide range of species, and maintains the natural processes vital for life on Earth. Supporting conservation efforts and respecting wildlife are a few ways to help.
  • Use public transportation: Another way we’re able to take care of our environment is to opt for public transportation when available. This helps reduce individual carbon footprints and decrease air pollution. Furthermore, choosing public transportation helps to conserve energy as well as promotes sustainable urban development and healthier communities.

How to use gadgets to take care of the environment?

Gadgets aid in caring for the environment by offering a variety of functions that promote mindful, eco-friendly practices. “Gadgets” refers to technological or mechanical devices typically designed to meet a need or want. As a result, their function is sometimes limited, but certain objects have broad applications that help humans advocate for the natural world. For example, smartphones host apps designed to improve waste minimization and keep users up to date on changes in their local environment. Smart home systems offer similar solutions, alerting homeowners to their energy, water, or heat usage to promote efficiency. Other gadgets are more involved. For instance, items like smart recycling bins help optimize recycling processes by offering more nuanced applications for communities and automatically sorting waste. Most of these devices alone can’t revolutionize conservation, but their usage encourages humans to adopt more sustainable practices and analyze how their lifestyle affects their surroundings on a micro level.

What is the impact of human activities on the environment?

Human activities have a profound impact on the environment that often correlates to extensive degradation and ecological imbalance. Conservation efforts are attempting to curb this impact, but global activities continue to bring harm to the environment. Three reports from various institutions and studies exemplify this. The first report, “Climate Change Widespread, Rapid, And Intensifying” by the IPCC, addresses the human impact on global warming and air emissions. It highlights that human activities led to 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900 due to greenhouse gasses. This amount is estimated to exceed 1.5°C if large-scale efforts aren’t implemented across the globe, leading to increased dangers such as extreme weather events, loss of biodiversity, and rising sea levels.

The second report originates from the international organization, Forest Declaration, which published its findings in the “Executive Summary: 2023 Forest Declaration Assessment” on October 23, 2023. This report explores the extent of deforestation due to human activities, highlighting a total global loss of 6.6 million hectares as a result of logging activities, livestock grazing, road construction, and similar. The report additionally discusses backsliding goals to eliminate deforestation but indicates that efforts in some countries like Indonesia and Malaysia are increasingly sustainable.

Finally, a third 2021 study by Gianluca Egidi and other authors, titled “Assessing Land Sensitivity to Desertification in the Mediterranean,” analyzes the effects of desertification. The researchers explored how the Mediterranean region is increasingly susceptible to desertification due to climate changes and human activities. The study analyzes various factors of land sensitivity in rural areas, ending with an emphasis on local solutions to manage sustainability.

How does climate change affect the environment?

Climate change affects the environment by altering weather patterns, food production, biodiversity, and ecological resilience. Climate change refers to shifts in temperatures and weather that impact ecological systems and human livelihoods. Many studies have addressed the environmental impact of climate change, including a 2022 paper titled, “A review of the global climate change impacts, adaptation, and sustainable mitigation measures” by Kashif Abbass and co-writers. This paper explores the holistic consequences of climate change. For instance, the paper highlights how we depend on the environment for our agriculture, but its global sector has been altered by weather fluctuations. This in turn threatens global food production and agriculture-dependent countries.

The 2022 report explores other points as well. For example, biodiversity is threatened by changes in temperature, destabilizing ecosystems and increasing the loss of crucial habitats. Climate change even affects diseases and infections, giving rise to specific strains and pathogens that threaten local regions and global health. Consequently, Abbass and his co-writers emphasize escalating government initiatives to curb the effects of both irreversible and reversible environmental changes to safeguard global sectors.

How important is environmental conservation to the future?

Environmental conservation is significant to the future because it helps ensure the longevity and well-being of humanity and the world we depend on. Conservation consists of individual and holistic actions taken to protect the natural world. These actions help preserve habitats, introduce sustainable practices and technologies, curb ecological degradation, and improve the management of natural resources. Such efforts collectively aid in reversing or mitigating the effects of human activities and maintaining the oftentimes fragile balance of ecosystems. Ecosystems—and consequently, the broad scope of the environment—provide organisms with the means to live. As a result, conservation not only protects nature but safeguards future generations’ ability to eat, maintain homes, raise families, and remain connected to the world that sustains them.

Are future generations entitled to a livable environment?

Yes, future generations are entitled to a livable environment. The goal of conservation isn’t solely to benefit the present but to minimize the ecological strain on future generations and create a more sustainable, environmentally conscious world. This thought process is based on intergenerational equity, a sociological concept that advocates for fairness across generations. Intergenerational equity drives much of sustainable and protective actions so that future generations of humans do not suffer the consequences of present-day actions.