Today as I look outside, there is a new layer of snow, and the thick, fluffy flakes slowly coming down from the sky tell me that there will probably be another few inches before the end of the day. The sky, thick with slow moving dull gray clouds tell me that although the temperature will be cold, the wind will be somewhat forgiving, only becoming biting every once in the while.
I know that beneath my feet, beneath the snow, the top layer of dirt will be cold and stiff, its moisture locked in the frozen soil, but just a few feet below, the soil is teeming with life, roots, and water slowly flowing in between the grains of clay, silt, and sand. I know that this water which partially came from the snow slowly melting down into the cracked and frozen ground will eventually make its way toward the river. This water from the ground will join the melting snow to feed the river, swelling it, causing the banks of the river to change and overflow. The turbulent water of the river will churn up the mud and sediment found at its base, and deposit it in various areas around the overflowed banks, and that material will be shifted changed and moved over time, either through human or natural activity.
How can I know all this, by simply looking at the sky, and the snow falling to the ground? I know this because I have spent time studying geology and the environment. Studying the environment allows you to really learn about the world around you and the interconnected nature of everything. It allows you to help put the puzzle together in a way, recognizing how what you choose to do today can affect your life and the lives of your children tomorrow. But truthfully, this thirst for knowledge, the search for how things are related isn’t the only reason to study the environment.
In addition to helping save and preserve at least a little piece of the world around you, studying the environment also teaches you a lot about yourself. Learning about the environment helps a person foster critical thinking, self-discipline, and self-control skills.
Besides the mental benefits of learning about the environment, there are also some physical and health benefits. Studying the world around you requires that you go out into it. Looking at photographs of a soil profile or a glacial outwash plain really doesn’t compare to experiencing it in real life. The experience of hiking, climbing, wading through streams, even sitting down in a field of wildflowers in the late summer is something that cannot be duplicated, no matter how impressive our technology becomes.
Studying the environment also encourages a person to get involved with the community. When you learn about how humans can affect the world around them, it becomes very difficult to be a simple bystander. You realize that there is a balance between economic growth, job security, health, and the health of the planet.
There are many reasons to study the environment and the world around us. The reasons provided here are just the start. What other reasons do you know?