What is the Environment

What is the Environment? (Full Definition)

Last Updated on August 6, 2023 by Krystine

The term “environment” gets used frequently in many contexts.

But what exactly constitutes the environment?

This article examines the diverse elements encompassed within the concept of the environment.

What is the Environment?

Environment and humankind
People, in return, have a moral obligation to conserve the environment and support the sustainable development of the globe for the sake of future generations. Image Credit: Lumina

The environment refers to the circumstances, objects, and conditions that surround an individual organism or community.

It encompasses all the biotic and abiotic elements – both living and nonliving components – that influence survival, growth, and development.

The environment includes factors such as sunlight, air, water, soil, weather, climate, plants, animals, microbes, and human activities.

It consists of the total surroundings and conditions on Earth that sustain life and impact organisms.

The environment is dynamic, constantly changing through natural cycles and human actions over time.

Key Points

  • The environment includes all biotic and abiotic factors affecting organisms.
  • It encompasses interactions between species and habitat resources.
  • Natural geography and human activities both transform environments.
  • Environments provide essential ecosystem services to humanity.

Does the environment include living things?

Yes, the environment inherently includes all living organisms, also known as biotic factors.

Plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, and other lifeforms exist within environments and rely on surrounding conditions for survival.

The presence, diversity, and health of organisms serve as barometers measuring environmental quality.

Living components are integral to environments.

What role do nonliving things play in environments?

Nonliving components like soil, water, sunlight, nutrients, and minerals comprise key abiotic factors making up environments alongside lifeforms.

These physical, geological, and chemical factors provide essential resources living things require while also shaping environmental characteristics through features like climate.

How do organisms interact within environments?

Fish near coral reefs
Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their physical and biotic environment. Image Credit: BioED

Organisms inhabiting environments inherently interact with their surroundings to meet survival needs. Plants uptake soil nutrients.

Animals establish territories and compete. Food chains form ecosystem links.

Species also adapt and evolve in response to environmental conditions like predators, resource availability, and climate shifts.

Dynamic exchanges between life and habitat constitute environments.

Do natural factors define environments?

Natural factors like topography, climate, chemistry, geology, hydrology, and native flora and fauna constitute core environmental components forming the physical backdrop and conditions for life.

But human-built factors like settlements, agriculture, deforestation, pollution, and infrastructure also transform natural environments through societal pressures.

Can social conditions impact environments?

Yes, human social elements like population demographics, economic policies, cultural attitudes, wars, migration patterns, governance, and resource exploitation fundamentally shape environments.

Sociopolitical contexts drive human-environmental interactions.

Understanding social influences allows for addressing ecological issues at root causes.

The environment is intrinsically tied to society.

Do environments provide ecosystem services?


Environments supply ecosystem services vital for human welfare like nutrient cycling, water filtration, climate regulation, biodiversity, pollination, recreation, and spiritual enrichment.

It is important to note that environment does not mean ecosystem, and vice versa.

Without functioning environments, such ecosystem services supporting economies and communities degrade.

Sustaining environments sustain invaluable services.

Should humans work to protect the environment?

Yes, protecting and restoring environments is crucial because human prosperity fundamentally relies on services like water, food, materials, and climate stability only healthy environments can provide long-term.

Though often taken for granted, conscious efforts to conserve environments are vital for securing resources essential to human welfare and preventing the collapse of the systems civilization depends upon.

How do environments influence human cultures?

Environments profoundly shape cultural identities, belief systems, arts, architecture, cuisines, lifestyles, and economic activities according to the particular resources, topography, and climate of a region.

Cultural knowledge of local environments also informs sustainable resource management practices preserving communities within ecological limitations. Environments and culture evolve together.

Can technologies overcome environmental limits?

While technology enables greater efficiency and living standards, the environment sets hard physical, biological, and geological limits technology alone cannot overcome without unforeseen consequences.

True sustainability requires respecting environmental thresholds and constraints through ethics and governance guided by ecological knowledge, not just technological advancement.

Do environments change over time naturally?

Environments change constantly over days, seasons, centuries, and millennia through natural processes like weathering, forest succession, climate patterns, evolution, volcanism, and plate tectonics.

Change generated by human systems now exceeds natural rates of change, disrupting environments supporting civilization.

But transformation is the norm, not equilibrium.

What is the Definition of the Environment?

The environment refers to the total conditions, circumstances, and external surroundings influencing the growth, survival, and development of organisms.

It includes living (biotic) factors like plants, animals, and microbes, as well as nonliving (abiotic) factors like soil, water, air, sunlight, climate, and weather.

The environment consists of the complex interactions between all biotic and abiotic components creating the physical, geological, chemical, and social backdrop supporting life on Earth.

It encompasses all the external physical, biological, social, and chemical influences surrounding organisms and shaping habitat conditions.

The environment forms the complete context determining organism and ecosystem functioning.

What is Environment in Few Words?

In simple terms, the environment includes the living and nonliving components and external conditions that surround, influence, and sustain organisms.

The complex of biotic and abiotic factors making up the environment provides essential resources to support life, ranging from tangible substances like water, soil, air, and sunlight to intangible dynamics like regional climates, social dynamics, and seasonal cycles that shape habitat suitability.

Overall, the environment is the external biophysical and social context shaping the circumstances of existence for all living things.

What is Environment Easy Definition for Kids?

For kids, the environment means everything outside of an individual plant or animal that surrounds them to form their “neighborhood”. This includes:

  • Air for breathing
  • Water for drinking and growing
  • Soil providing nutrients
  • Sunlight allows plants to make energy
  • Weather like rain, wind, snow
  • Other living things the plant or animal interacts with
  • Places like forests, deserts, and oceans where organisms live
  • Human activities like roads, buildings, and pollution

The environment is the world outside plants and animals providing what they need, good and bad!

What are the 5 Major Components of the Environment?

The 5 major components of the environment are:

  1. Atmosphere – The air envelope surrounding the planet.
  2. Hydrosphere – The total global water, including liquid, frozen, and atmospheric.
  3. Lithosphere – Outer rocky layer of the Earth’s crust that forms land.
  4. Biosphere – Global sum of all the planet’s ecosystems and living organisms.
  5. Anthroposphere – Human environments including urban infrastructure, agriculture, and technology.

Together these interdependent spheres create a holistic environment system shaping life through biotic and abiotic factors interacting dynamically.

The environment provides essential resources sustaining ecosystems and organisms.

Key Attributes of Environments

  • All the biotic and abiotic factors surrounding and sustaining life
  • Dynamic exchanges between organisms and habitat resources
  • Natural geographic, geological, and climatic conditions
  • Ecosystem services like water purification, nutrient cycling, climate regulation
  • Societal impacts through demographics, economics, culture, technology
  • Constant gradual natural change over time through cycles and processes


What is the definition of the environment?

The environment refers to the total conditions and circumstances surrounding and sustaining organisms and human communities. It includes both living (biotic) and nonliving (abiotic) components influencing life such as sunlight, soil, water, climate, plants, animals, and human activities.

What is the environment in a few words?

In simple terms, the environment includes the living and nonliving external surroundings sustaining organisms and shaping habitat conditions. It consists of biotic and abiotic factors impacting life.

What is environment easy definition for kids?

For kids, the environment means everything outside of a plant or animal that surrounds them – air, water, weather, soil, other living things, and human activities. It’s their external neighborhood!

At GreenChiCafe, we are passionate about the environment and preserving the beauty of the natural world.

Please check out our website for more content on living sustainably.

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