Earth and Environment

The Earth is a blue-green planet sustaining all life as we know it. Our home is filled with lush forests, vast deserts and beautiful landscapes of nature. Currently, it is being invaded by catalyzed climate change caused by human activity such as pollution. 

©Peter Delaney
A brewing storm over Mountain Zebra Park, South Africa.

Environmental studies broadly encompass Earth processes, surface and atmospheric dynamics, Earth system history and ecology. Scientists work to learn as much as possible about how climate change affects the Earth and our environment to better understand the severity of global warming and human intervention on the environment.

Earth and Extinction

Five mass extinction events have hit the planet since the first single-celled organisms split and multiplied. These events have snuffed out more life than we can imagine in the relative blink of a Brontosaurus's eye....more


The environmental movement - which grew out of the momentum it gained in the 1970s - has had to take as good as it gives, rolling with the punches from critics. In some respects, the movement is represented by clinical science on one side...more

Marion Island: A Living Laboratory

The name 'sub-Antarctic' conjures images of frozen wastes, psychedelic night-lights, twenty-four hour summer days and icebergs. On the contrary, this part of the world is comparatively mild. What makes it unique is that it is relatively constant....more

Natural Systems of Marion Island

The natural system of Marion Island has taken several hundred thousand years to reach a self- perpetuating equilibrium. In just fifty years it is being thrown out of kilter. The first import to noticeably disrupt the system was the house mouse...more

The Air Of the Earth

There's a symmetry in the air around you that is beautiful, poetic, invisible and entirely underrated. 78 percent of each breath you draw is nitrogen, diluting the 21 percent oxygen content that keeps you conscious and functioning...more

The Greenhouse Effect

The composition of the atmosphere has changed constantly over time, as has the thickness of the sweater of greenhouse gases, swinging between different states of equilibrium. Carbon is recycled constantly....more

The Heat Process of Earth

Most of our heat comes from the Sun. Of that energy reaching our outer atmosphere, just over half makes it through to the surface of the Earth. The angle at which the heat strikes the atmosphere influences how much makes it through....more

The Prince Edward Islands

In the 1970s scientists working on Marion Island, deep in the sub-Antarctic, would trek on foot into the island's hinterland and ski down the volcanic slopes above the snowline....more

The Savannah

The savannah of African folklore - with all the drama of its expansive grassy plains and scattered trees - is not some fixed place on the map, some lasting state of comfortable equilibrium. Rather, it's a transient state of an ever-shifting landscape...more

The Science of Islands

To paraphrase the words of writer David Quammen: as far as species evolution and extinctions are concerned, continental islands start with everything and have everything to lose; ocean islands start with nothing and have everything to gain....more

The Value of Nature

In the global balance sheet of natural resources, we are using more than we have in the bank. We are living on borrowed time. Let's not get bogged down in numbers - by how many tons our fish resources have reduced...more

Wildlife of Marion Island

Knowing all the plants and animals makes it easier to see where each prefers to live, as one climbs the gradients. Marion Island’s lower slopes - from the coast up to about 500 metres above sea level...more