Is there one word for "having an effect/impact/influence over the surroundings/environment"?

For example,

20th century was ____, which may have resulted in changes to earth's soil microorganisms.

I considered the word influential, but it doesn't seem to be specifically about the surroundings/environment.

The kind of impact can be either positive or negative, I'm looking for the technical ability to change one's environment.

Another example,

while most animals have indirect effect on their environment, beavers are ____, with their engineering abilities

Perhaps the word I'm looking for might be a term from Biology, or a term from Mechanics, like an object's potential of exerting force, doing an action which results in an effect over something else.

  • Crucial, perhaps?
    – user405662
    Jun 25, 2021 at 4:49
  • It might help to describe what kind of impact you are thinking of? Global warming? Pollution? Electrosmog?
    – fev
    Jun 25, 2021 at 8:38
  • Thanks, I'll update my original question. Jun 25, 2021 at 9:51
  • 1
    I think your example sentence will almost inevitably lead to tautology. // The word 'world-changing' certainly exists (see, for instance, this BBC webpage) but is usually used for ideas, inventions, decisions. Not the 20th century etc. As @405 says, 'pivotal' or a synonym, perhaps 'momentous', fits. 'Incredible' is another appropriate word. I'm tempted to suggest the inappropriate metaphor 'groundbreaking'. // The usual description is of 'immense technological advancements'. Jun 25, 2021 at 10:48
  • What specifically about the 20th century had (or may have had) an impact on the soil microbiome?
    – TimR
    Aug 17, 2023 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


Good question.

I don't really think there is 'one' specific word you can utilise to define something which impacts an environment. If you are specifically talking about the change that the 20th Century has had on the environment, you could use a word such as 'alter', 'modified', 'metamorphosed', 'transformed' or 'transmuted'.

Also I don't think your sentence example really works. Maybe a better example would be 'The 20th Century has markedly altered the earth's microorganism composition in soil.'

All the best

  • Thank you, actually i'm not looking for the effects of the 20th Century specifically, but the concept of the technical ability. It seems Transmuted is pretty close. Jun 25, 2021 at 10:32

I presume you're looking for an adjective here. Taking a cue from Electron Ninja's answer, I offer transformative.

causing or able to cause an important and lasting change in someone or something

Even if students end up in different fields, the skills learned in the mechatronics program are transformative, instructor Sheldon Ingersoll said.

— Emily Donaldson, Dallas News, 30 May 2021


  • Thank you, this led me to find Exoform. (I have also found that Exomutation have been used rarely) Those might be the words i'm looking for. Jun 25, 2021 at 11:23
  • 1
    There is also ecoform. As for terraforming, even though the original meaning is related to transformation of planets so it can support human life, I think it could work when borrowed to mean "Changing environment to make it more habitable". (Like in the Beaver example) Admittedly, These words don't seem to work with the 20th Century example . Jun 26, 2021 at 9:51
  • I must say this question doesn't really belong on this site. These are all technical terms, and the question is perhaps better suited to Biology SE.
    – user405662
    Jun 26, 2021 at 10:15

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