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Environment, the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.

The Earth’s environment is treated in a number of articles. The major components of the physical environment are discussed in the articles atmosphere, climate, continental landform, hydrosphere, and ocean. The relationship between the principal systems and components of the environment, and the major ecosystems of the Earth are treated in the article biosphere. The significant environmental changes that have occurred during Earth’s history are surveyed in the article geochronology. The pollution of the environment and the conservation of its natural resources are treated in the article conservation. Hazards to life in the biosphere are discussed in the articles death, disease, and immune system.

  • biosphere: Environmental conditions

    Most organisms are limited to either a terrestrial or an aquatic environment. An organism’s ability to tolerate local conditions within its environment further restricts its distribution. One parameter, such as temperature tolerance, may be important in determining the limits of distribution, but often…

  • architecture: Environment

    Architecture, unlike most of the other arts, is not often conceived independently of particular surroundings. The problems of design extend beyond the organizing of space and mass complexes to include the relating of the total form to its natural and architectural environment.…

  • human disease: Heredity and environment

    Diseases can be spread across a wide spectrum, with predominantly genetic diseases at one extreme of the spectrum and diseases of largely environmental origin at the other. In the genetic part of the spectrum are diseases such as Turner’s syndrome; in the environmental part…

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