Human activity is a major cause of environmental change and the rate of that change has accelerated dramatically over the last century. Understanding the dynamics of both natural and anthropogenic environmental change requires knowledge spanning many scientific disciplines. Recent environmental degradation such as surface and subsurface water pollution, air and soil pollution, climate change, depletion of resources, extinction of species and problems of waste disposal are all a result of the lack of understanding of environmental systems and processes.
Environmental degradation has an impact not only on human beings but on all species and most natural systems, so that its understanding requires approaches and skills from many areas such as: biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, earth science and ecology. Such an integrated approach needs not only a good understanding of the causes of environmental change and degradation, but also a more complete understanding of the mechanisms through which environmental change has an impact on living creatures.