The biophysical environment is the biotic
and abiotic surrounding of an organism or population, and includes
the factors that have an influence in their survival, development and
evolution.The term environment can refer to different concepts, but is often used
as a short form for the biophysical
environment. This practice is common, for instance, among governments
which entitle agencies dealing with the biophysical environment with
denominations such as Environment agency.
Whereas the expression "the
environment" is often used to refer to the global environment,
usually in relation to humanity, the number of biophysical environments is
countless, given that it is always possible to consider an additional living
organism that has its own environment.
The biophysical environment can vary
in scale from microscopic to global in extent. It can
also be subdivided according to its attributes. Examples include the marine environment, the atmospheric environment
and the terrestrial environment.
All life that has survived must have adapted to conditions of its environment. Temperature, light, humidity, soil nutrients, etc., all influence any species, within any environment. However life in turn modifies, in various forms, its conditions. Some long term modifications along the history of our planet have been significant, such as the incorporation of oxygen to the atmosphere. This process
consisted in the breakdown of carbon dioxide by anaerobic microorganisms
that used the carbon in their metabolism and released the oxygen to the
atmosphere. This led to the existence of oxygen-based plant and animal life,
the great oxygenation event.
Other interactions are more immediate and simple, such as the smoothing effect
that forests have on the temperature cycle, compared to neighboring unforested
Environmental science is
the study of the interactions within the biophysical environment. Part of this scientific discipline is
the investigation of the effect of human activity on the environment. Ecology, a sub-discipline of biology and a part of
environmental sciences, is often mistaken as a study of human induced effects
on the environment. Environmental studies is a
broader academic discipline that is the systematic study of interaction of
humans with their environment. It is a broad field of study that includes the
natural environment, built environments and social environments.
Environmentalism is a broad social and philosophical movement
that, in a large part, seeks to minimise and compensate the negative effect of
human activity on the biophysical environment. The issues of concern for
environmentalists usually relate to the natural environment with the more
important ones being climate change, species extinction, pollution, and old growth forest loss.