Environmental science is the study of the environment and the interconnecting systems it contains, as well as the way people interact with their natural surroundings and use natural resources. This field in the sciences is highly interdisciplinary, and the type of research environmental scientists do is extremely diverse. People may study everything from climate change to volcanoes as part of their work, and employment opportunities include jobs with governments, conservation organizations, and private firms interested in environmental topics. Pay scales vary, depending on qualifications and areas of interest, and can include benefits like opportunities to travel to conferences and events.
The study of environmental science includes physical sciences like geology and physics, along with biology and topics such as meteorology. Some people are also interested in social science topics so that they can more effectively study human interactions with the environment and topics like the history of human societies and their relationship with the environment. Social science is also useful for people working in public outreach and communication, as they want to be able to effectively convey concepts to members of the public.
Rather than studying isolated organisms and phenomena, environmental scientists look at interconnected natural systems to learn more about the environment in a given region as a whole. This can include understanding interactions between different kinds of organisms, as well as studying topics like how activities such as farming, development, and mining impact the natural world. Many environmental scientists are interested in sustainability and want to find ways to use natural resources while also preserving them.
Many colleges and universities have environmental science programs and conduct advanced research in this field. People can study a number of topics within the discipline, depending on their interests and career plans. People interested in conservation, for example, would focus on sustainability, public policy, and related topics. A person who wants to study climate change might be interested in climate history, ongoing environmental changes, meteorology, and similar matters.
Professional organizations dedicated to environmental science offer a variety of opportunities to members including conferences, trade publications, and continuing education. Many people choose to join a professional organization in their field to make themselves more employable, have access to other scientists, and keep track of ongoing research and other topics, like changing views on scientific ethics. Membership qualifications vary, depending on the organization, but usually require people to have a graduate degree and some work experience or published research.