There is an ever growing awareness that understanding our Earth and its environments holds the key to sustaining life, as we know it, on planet Earth. Our environment consists of a complex web of interacting cycles, processes, and systems. This topic discusses these by way of introduction to the Earth and Environmental Sciences. It begins with the origins of the Universe, Big Bang Theory, formation of the solar system and the planets within it and discusses the ways in which planet Earth is unique in comparison. The timeline of life on Earth is examined and includes discussion on the dinosaurs and their extinction as well as other fossil evidence found in geologic records. The topic discusses the basic geology that underpins the Earth's make up (rocks, minerals, plate tectonics) and the concept of a 'restless' earth by way of examples including earthquakes, volcanoes, avalanches, landslides, floods and storm surges as well as other natural disasters. The movement of water on Earth between the land, ocean and atmosphere is discussed, and its importance to the environment is detailed. Basic concepts in the study of natural hydrologic systems are introduced and include both surface water in rivers and lakes as well as groundwater.
This topic aims to: