What is a simple definition of the physical environment?

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Newell Kautzer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A physical environment can be described as anything we can physically experience through our senses—touch, smell, sight, hearing, and/or taste. The physical environment includes both the natural environment and the human-made environment. For example, the physical environment of a house can include the human-made structures such as the walls, the pipes, and the appliances, as well as the natural environment, such as the air circulating in the house, the water flowing through the pipes, and the trees, plants, and animals that exist in the yard.

One should consider the elements of the surrounding physical environment when deciding how to interact with that environment. For example, perhaps it is the height of summer and there is no air conditioning in the house—in this case, opening the windows and using ceiling fans would improve the physical environment in terms of human comfort.

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Murl Larson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One's physical environment is one's surroundings. This is true whether or not there are any people around. Water, land formations, minerals, air, and vegetation are examples of natural physical surroundings. Infrastructure and buildings are examples of human-made physical environmental structures.

Physical environments are often described in terms of how they can either help or hurt the people or other organisms that live there. For example, a rain shadow may hurt the people who live on the dry side of the mountain, as it prevents them from getting rain. Animals can adjust to the presence of buildings instead of their natural surroundings; for example, many birds of prey nest in high-rises where they once had more access to tall trees.

One's physical environment shapes one's life. While one can alter the physical environment, there are often unforeseen consequences of doing so. It can lead to environmental damage for other organisms.

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Domenick Franecki eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The physical environment is the part of the environment surrounding humans that contains only physical elements, such as the water, soil, air, and so on. These are elements that are tangible and that people...

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