science education resource

For K-12 Students • Educators • Homeschool Families • Naturalists

About the Environment

To view these resources with no ads please Login or Subscribe (and help support our site).

About the Environment

What Causes It

The word environment often makes people think of protecting the Earth, but in truth the word environment is a scientific term. It means all the living and non-living things on Earth. Living things (biotic) include animals, plants, bacteria, algae, fungi, etc. Nonliving things (abiotic) include rocks, mountains, streams, lakes, rain, snow and even clouds, oxygen and carbon dioxide.

The Earth has many interconnecting cycles that keep it in balance. The water cycle keeps rain and snow falling and evaporating back up to the clouds over and over. The oxygen cycle depends on plants releasing oxygen that animals use and recycling carbon dioxide that they release. The nutrient cycle works as plants make energy from the sun and provide food for animals, which then release their nitrogen when they die back into the environment. The nitrogen is then used to nourish new growing plants all over again. These cycles are how our environment is balanced.

The environment does change over time. Glaciers advance and retreat. Temperatures change. Animals go extinct and populations evolve. The continents slowly drift over millions of years. Volcanoes erupt and spew carbon dioxide into the air. Hurricanes flatten forests and change the shape of shorelines.

Though our planet may seem like a vast and powerful place, we are affecting the Earth's biosphere. There are more than 6 billion people on Earth and our activities do affect the environment. In the topics below, read about how we have affected the planet and what we can do to protect it for generations to come.

To view these resources with no ads, please Login or Subscribe (and help support our site).

Citing Research References

When you research information you must cite the reference. Citing for websites is different from citing from books, magazines and periodicals. The style of citing shown here is from the MLA Style Citations (Modern Language Association).

When citing a WEBSITE the general format is as follows.
Author Last Name, First Name(s). "Title: Subtitle of Part of Web Page, if appropriate." Title: Subtitle: Section of Page if appropriate. Sponsoring/Publishing Agency, If Given. Additional significant descriptive information. Date of Electronic Publication or other Date, such as Last Updated. Day Month Year of access < URL >.

Here is an example of citing this page:

Amsel, Sheri. "About the Environment" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2022. December 3, 2022
< > has more than 2,000 illustrated animals. Read about them, color them, label them, learn to draw them.