Lecture 2: Introduction to Environmental Science

What is Science and how does it work?

  • A systematic process for learning about the world and testing our understanding of it
  • The accumulated body of knowledge that arises from this dynamic process

The Scientific Method

What is it?

  • Testing ideas through observation, questioning and experimentation
  • Assumptions:
  • Idea that the universe works according to natural law
  • Events arise from causes, and cause other events
  • We use logic, systematic testing, and our senses to understand natural law


Key Element of Science

  • Make observations and ask questions
  • Formulate hypotheses (explanations)
  • Use hypotheses to generate predictions (specific statements that can be tested)
  • Interpret test results (support or reject hypothesis)


Part of a Larger Process

  • The scientific method is part of a larger process
  • The process includes peer review, publication and debates
  • Uncertainty is a fundamental part of the scientific process
  • A consistently supported hypothesis becomes a theory



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