Since the environment and the hero, heroine or multiple characters interact with this forming a basic conflict let's look at the ways this can happen. Of course there can be more than one kind of environmental episode in a novel.
There can be a change in the character's environment that causes a reaction. Think of a child when a younger sibling in born. Or perhaps someone has been killed. A new marriage. All kind of changes can occur to make the main character or characters react.
The character can be moved to a new environment. Moving can be difficult. What if a child has moved many times. How does he form friendships. A job may take a character from a familiar setting to one that's different from what they have known. This change could be beneficial or the worst thing that's happened to the character. Lots of meat for thought here.
What about an environment in conflict with another environment. Can the character bring these settings together or will the attempt destroy him or her. Families can experience this kind of problem. Think of the man who loses all his money or the family that suddenly has riches. The environment they know is in conflict with the one they must enter.
What if the character decides he wants to change the environment where he lives or works. The woman fighting to progress in her career. The man who wants to see a fair shake for his co-worker. The nurse thinks a union will be the answer for her colleagues. The administrator who things the status quo is the right one. Brings the characters into conflict.
A character who wants to conquer the environment where he or she dwells. This can also be a physical boundary. The person who needs to conquer the jungle to live. The student who wants to be the best and the first. Conquering becomes the force behind the story.Five more possibilities will be explored the next time.