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Environment vs. Environmental — What's the Difference?

By Urooj Arif & Maham Liaqat — Updated on March 12, 2024
Environment describes the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates, while environmental pertains to or is derived from the environment.
Environment vs. Environmental — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Environment and Environmental


Key Differences

Environment refers to the collective natural, social, cultural, and built factors that surround and affect the existence and development of an organism or community. It encompasses everything from the air, water, and land in which organisms live to the complex web of social and political influences that shape our world. Whereas, environmental is an adjective that relates to or concerns the environment. It is often used to describe issues, policies, science, and studies that focus on the protection and preservation of the environment.
Environment plays a critical role in shaping the behaviors, health, and evolution of living organisms. It includes not just the physical aspects like climate and geography, but also the living components and the interactions between them. On the other hand, environmental issues such as pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss refer to the negative impacts on the environment caused by human activities. These issues require an understanding of environmental science to develop solutions.
The study of the environment is multidisciplinary, incorporating elements of biology, chemistry, physics, geography, ecology, and social sciences. This broad field helps us understand how different factors of the environment interact and affect each other. Environmental science, meanwhile, specifically focuses on the study of environmental problems and the development of solutions to protect the environment. It applies knowledge from various disciplines to address complex environmental issues.
In public discourse, environment often comes up in discussions about conservation, sustainability, and the natural world. Environmental, however, is frequently used in contexts related to policies, actions, or attitudes that aim to reduce human impact on the environment. For example, environmental activism focuses on advocating for practices and policies that aim to protect the natural world.
Environmental education aims to teach individuals and communities about the environment and how to conserve and protect it. It differs from general education about the environment in that it specifically emphasizes the development of knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to understand and act on environmental issues. This distinction highlights the proactive and applied nature of environmental education compared to the broader concept of learning about the environment.

Comparison Chart


The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.
Pertaining to or derived from the environment.


Broadly includes natural, social, cultural, and built factors.
Focuses on issues, policies, science, and studies related to the environment.


Multidisciplinary approach including biology, chemistry, and social sciences.
Specifically targets environmental problems and solutions.

Public Discourse

Often associated with discussions on conservation and sustainability.
Used in contexts related to environmental policies and activism.

Educational Aspect

Concerned with the general understanding of living organisms and their surroundings.
Focuses on teaching about environmental issues and how to address them.

Compare with Definitions


A particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity.
Industrial activities have severely damaged the local environment.


Designed to minimize harmful effects on the environment.
The new building incorporates environmental features like solar panels.


A combination of physical, chemical, and biological factors that affect an organism's growth and development.
The Amazon rainforest provides a rich environment for thousands of species.


Relating to or arising from the natural world and the impact of human activity on its condition.
Environmental protection is crucial for sustaining future generations.


The social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community.
A nurturing environment can significantly impact a child's development.


Concerned with the ecological health and sustainability of the earth.
Environmental scientists study the effects of pollution on marine life.


The totality of circumstances surrounding an organism or group of organisms.
Coral reefs are sensitive to changes in their marine environment.


Involving the management of environmental issues and practices.
Environmental regulations require factories to reduce emissions.


The setting or conditions in which a particular activity is carried on.
The company strives to create a positive work environment for its employees.


Pertaining to environmentalism or environmental studies.
She is majoring in environmental science at the university.


The surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates
Survival in an often hostile environment


Relating to or associated with the environment.


The natural world, as a whole or in a particular geographical area, especially as affected by human activity
The impact of pesticides on the environment
A parliamentary environment committee


Relating to or concerned with the impact of human activities on the natural environment
The environmental movement.


The totality of the natural world, often excluding humans
"Technology, of course, lies at the heart of man's relationship with the environment" (Mark Hertsgaard).


Relating to potentially harmful factors originating in the environment
Environmental illness.


A subset of the natural world; an ecosystem
The coastal environment.


Pertaining to the environment.


The combination of external physical conditions that affect and influence the growth, development, behavior, and survival of organisms
"Conditions in a lion's environment ... can drive it to hunt people" (Philip Caputo).


(computing) Any factor relating to the physical environment in which hardware is operated, such as the room temperature or the number of racks used to hold equipment.


The complex of social and cultural conditions affecting the nature of an individual person or community.


Of or pertaining to the environment; as, environmental factors.


The general set of conditions or circumstances
A terrible environment for doing business.


Of or pertaining to the environment (definition 2); as, environmental pollution; environmental disaster; environmental cleanup; environmental deterioration.
THOUSANDS of dead fish and other marine species, suffocated by a rotting, glutinous morass which spreads over kilometres of coral reefs. This scenario has all the hallmarks of a unnatural environmental disaster resulting from environmental negligence. However this isn't the case, instead the cause - coral spawn slick deoxygenation - is a natural event which has the potential to occur periodically on the reefs of the West Pilbara.


The entire set of conditions under which one operates a computer, as it relates to the hardware, operating platform, or operating system.


Concerned with the ecological effects of altering the environment;
Environmental pollution


An area of a computer's memory used by the operating system and some programs to store certain variables to which they need frequent access.


Of or relating to the external conditions or surroundings;
Environmental factors


The surroundings of, and influences on, a particular item of interest.


The natural world or ecosystem.


All the elements that affect a system or its inputs and outputs.


A particular political or social setting, arena or condition.


(computing) The software and/or hardware existing on any particular computer system.
That program uses the Microsoft Windows environment.


(programming) The environment of a function at a point during the execution of a program is the set of identifiers in the function's scope and their bindings at that point.


(computing) The set of variables and their values in a namespace that an operating system associates with a process.


Act of environing; state of being environed.


That which environs or surrounds; surrounding conditions, influences, or forces, by which living forms are influenced and modified in their growth and development.
It is no friendly environment, this of thine.


The totality of surrounding conditions;
He longed for the comfortable environment of his livingroom


The area in which something exists or lives;
The country--the flat agricultural surround

Common Curiosities

How do environment and environmental studies differ?

Environment studies encompass a broad range of factors affecting organisms, while environmental studies specifically focus on issues, policies, and solutions related to environmental protection.

Can an activity be both environmental and detrimental to the environment?

Yes, an activity can be environmental in intent (aimed at protecting the environment) but may have unintended detrimental effects if not properly managed or executed.

What is the environment?

The environment is the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.

How do human activities impact the environment?

Human activities impact the environment in various ways, including pollution, deforestation, and climate change, which can harm ecosystems and biodiversity.

What role does technology play in environmental protection?

Technology plays a crucial role in environmental protection by providing tools and solutions for monitoring environmental conditions, reducing pollution, and promoting sustainable practices.

What is the difference between renewable and non-renewable environmental resources?

Renewable environmental resources, like solar and wind energy, can be replenished naturally, whereas non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels, have a finite supply and can deplete.

Why is biodiversity important for the environment?

Biodiversity is important for ecosystem resilience, providing critical services like pollination, water purification, and climate regulation.

What does environmental mean?

Environmental refers to anything related to or concerned with the environment, especially the natural world and the impact of human activity on it.

Why is environmental education important?

Environmental education is important for raising awareness about environmental issues and teaching individuals how to contribute to the sustainability and protection of the environment.

How does climate change relate to environmental issues?

Climate change is a significant environmental issue that results from global warming caused by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases, affecting weather patterns, sea levels, and ecosystems.

How can individuals contribute to environmental conservation?

Individuals can contribute by reducing waste, recycling, conserving water and energy, supporting sustainable practices, and participating in environmental advocacy.

How do environmental factors influence health?

Environmental factors like air and water quality, exposure to chemicals, and climate conditions can significantly influence physical and mental health outcomes.

What is an example of an environmental policy?

An example of an environmental policy is the Clean Air Act, which regulates air emissions from stationary and mobile sources to reduce air pollution.

What are environmental NGOs, and what do they do?

Environmental NGOs are non-governmental organizations focused on environmental issues, working to promote conservation, influence policy, and raise public awareness.

What are the global effects of environmental degradation?

Global effects include loss of biodiversity, increased natural disasters, food and water scarcity, and health issues due to pollution and climate change.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.
Co-written by
Maham Liaqat

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