The junction between present and future societies lies in the global commons: the shared
physical, biological, and intellectual resources of the planet. The environment-specifically
intact, functioning ecological systems - is essential to opportunities for individual development,
the health and well-being of citizens and communities, and the generation of new wealth.
Environmental science and technology are therefore a vital component of productive knowledge
and thus a high priority for the Nation.
As connections between humans and the goods and services provided by the ecosystems of Earth become
better understood, the scale and rate of modifications to these ecosystems are increasing. Environmental
challenges are often exceedingly complex, requiring strengthened disciplinary inquiry as well as broadly
interdisciplinary approaches that draw upon, integrate, and invigorate virtually all fields of science
and engineering. Within the broad portfolio of science and engineering for the new century, the environment
is emerging as a vigorous, essential, and central focus.