How it works

We are incredibly fortunate; the basis of our biosphere comes from a special set of cosmic conditions and planetary systems that all successfully interface together at the level of our biosphere to create the perfect conditions for life that we enjoy each and every day.

Firstly our solar systems resides in an ideal location of our galaxy within the ‘galactic habitable zone’, free of extreme forces. We are blessed with just the right star type (spectrum G2) called our Sun and then our planet’s position in the solar system is perfectly situated away from it so we can enjoy just the right temperatures. Our Earth is conveniently tilted towards or away from the Sun to provide seasons and seasonal climate changes for an immense diversity of life to have evolved.  Yet the whole planet is shielded by an incredible magnetosphere which protects us from solar winds and is backed up by outer layers of our atmosphere particularly the ozone layer that absorbs the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.  We have a close neighbour called the Moon which loyally circles us creating tides and lunar cycles vital to many creatures. Sunlight pours a constant stream of life-giving energy into our major earth systems of the Atmosphere, Hydrosphere, Pedosphere and Lithosphere, which all happily work together to create the global habitat through which circulates all of the chemical elements and compounds essential to every eco system on the planet. Everything either flows or cycles through an ecosystem; energy, nutrients and chemicals.

As a result the biosphere consists of established and complex ecosystems that operate in predominately localised areas made up of producers, consumers, and decomposers, all playing an important role in forming a massive composite life system.

There is no waste in nature or the natural biosphere. As biomass increases so do these natural recycling loops. Ecosystems interact with other ecosystems, which further establish the state of the biosphere. Plants, animals and micro–organisms that have evolved together over a long period of time all harmoniously interact in this interdependent natural environment.

The biosphere’s natural resilience is in its complexity; extreme biodiversity and webs of interconnectivity spread over millions of species, while ‘key stone’ species are particularly important to the integrity of food web and ecosystem structure.

Energy from the photosynthetic processes of approximately 300,000 species of plants provides the vital supplies of which all life, including ours depends.

The biosphere and the evolution of life forms contribute to the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other factors of habitability in a preferred homeostasis. This system as a whole seeks a physical and chemical environment optimal for contemporary life.

James Lovelock’s Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. ‘It is not life alone but the whole Earth system that does the regulating.’ Gaia theory.

In 2001, a thousand scientists at the European Geophysical Union meeting signed the Declaration of Amsterdam, starting with the statement, “The Earth System behaves as a single, self-regulating system with physical, chemical, biological, and human components.”


Our biosphere is the result of the following:

We are incredibly fortunate; the basis of our biosphere comes from a special set of cosmic conditions and planetary systems that all successfully interface together at the level of our biosphere to help create the perfect conditions for life that we enjoy every day.

1. Cosmic conditions that enable our biosphere:

– Our position in our galaxy

- Our star type

- Planetary position in our solar system

- Planet composition; terrestrial planet, magnetosphere, earth tilt, gravity

- Moon


- Our position in our galaxy

Our Sun, and thus our Solar System, is found in the ‘galactic habitable zone’ of our galaxy the Milky Way. This is termed ‘galactic habitable zone’ due to the understanding that the location of a planetary system within a galaxy must be in a zone favourable to the development of life.

Our Solar system is around two thirds of the way out from the Galactic Centre (the centre of the Milky Way), close to the inner rim of the galaxy’s Orion Arm. It is in a relatively suburban location far enough away from the extreme forces of our galaxy’s inner regions; the supermassive (and all consuming) black hole believed to exist at the centre of each galaxy in the universe, the large amount of stellar evolution, massive magnetic fields, starquakes and dangerous high-frequency radiation.

Thus, relative isolation as a regional solar system is ultimately what we need. If our Sun were crowded amongst other systems, the chance of being fatally close to dangerous radiation sources would increase significantly. Star dense areas of our galaxy would be overwhelming for life as we experience it due to excessive radiation and gravitational disturbance, close neighbours might disrupt the stability of various orbiting bodies which could bring catastrophe if knocked into our inner solar system.

Yet it is proposed a star as metal-rich as the Sun would probably not have formed in the very outermost regions of the Milky Way given a decline in the relative abundance of metals and a general lack of star formation. So being close enough to the galactic centre for sufficient levels of heavy elements to have formed our special type of star (that we call the Sun) and our Earth (terrestrial planet with iron core) in the first place is also vital.

- Our Star type

An absolute requirement for life is a stable and long lasting energy source.

Our Sun is a G2 star which fits into the correct spectral range needed by a star (early F or G, to mid-K) to provide for life. These are called “HabStars” which corresponds to temperatures ranging from just over 4,000 K to just over 7,000 K.

This spectral range is believed to only account for between 5% to 10% of stars in the local Milky Way galaxy, as the universe in general is mostly made up of fainter red or brown dwarf stars.

These ideal stars provide a planet with enough heat so that it can orbit its energy source at a distance that still allows for it to rotate and thus prohibits ‘tidal lock’ (where the intense gravity of a star prohibits the planet from rotating and hence one side only of the planet is ever exposed to the star’s heat).

The development of a planet’s biosphere is also dependent on a star that has a long enough lifespan for it to evolve; allowing time for the planet to cool after formation and for a stable biosphere to begin to take effect over hundreds of millions of years. And our sun has approximately another 10 billion years left in her for energy generation.

A star needs to be stable, intense fluctuations in luminosity would impact all of life’s ability to maintain any true form of homeostasis. Most stars are relatively stable, but any sudden increases in the amount of energy radiated could cut through a planet’s protective magnetosphere and destroy its atmosphere. Extreme spikes in luminosity are also understood to be partnered with enormous doses of gamma ray and X-ray radiation which would be lethal.

Our Sun is thankfully stable; the variation between solar max and minimum is roughly 0.1% over its 11-year solar cycle. However a taste of how even minor changes in luminosity might dramatically affect our lives, could perhaps be exampled by earth’s climate during the ‘Little Ice Age’. This historically, was a very cold period between 1550 AD and 1850 AD, which may have been caused by a relatively long-term decline in the Sun’s luminosity.

-Planetary position in our solar system from the sun.

After an energy source, liquid water is considered the most important ingredient for life, integral to all eco systems on Earth. The ‘habitable zone’ as NASA says is a theoretical shell surrounding a star in which any planet present could maintain liquid water on its surface.

In the Solar System, the inner planets are terrestrial (having a central metallic core, mostly iron, with a surrounding silicate mantle), the outer ones being gas giants (which might not have solid surfaces and are composed mostly of some combination of hydrogen, helium, and water existing in various physical states).

Earth, a terrestrial planet, is just the right distance away from the Sun which enables our hydrological system to work, transferring water around the planet.

-Planet composition

Terrestrial planets such as Earth all have approximately the same type of structure: a vital central metallic core, mostly iron, with a surrounding silicate mantle. Terrestrial planets have canyons, craters, mountains, and volcanoes. Terrestrial planets possess secondary atmospheres — atmospheres generated through internal volcanism or comet impacts.

The enriching of the metallic core in the main body of the Earth was created from the believed collision billions of years ago which formed our earth and moon. This is thought to have enabled metals to be deposited into the Earth’s silicate mantle after collision and subsequently to be recycled into workable ore deposits by plate tectonic processes over geological time for Humans to eventually use.

Earth has the benefit of workable metal deposits at the surface of the planet. Without this presence of metals it is very unlikely that a technological civilisation could have developed on Earth, without which our life would not have evolved in the way that we now know it to be.


The magnetosphere is the magnetic field that extends from the Earth’s inner core to the region above the ionosphere, several tens of thousands of kilometers into space. This is where it meets the solar wind, and protects the earth from the Sun’s stream of energetic particles; harmful ultraviolet radiation and cosmic rays.

Earth’s magnetosphere is strong enough to withstand atmospheric stripping by the Sun’s solar wind. It largely protects us from the solar wind by deflecting most of the charged particles away from the earth. Without this our planet’s biosphere would quickly perish and we would all be sun-blasted away.

Our magnetosphere is generated by a dense ball of iron and nickel at Earth’s centre, this core is divided into two layers, the inner core and the outer core.

The outer core, an ocean of liquid metal, is 2,200 km thick, so hot that the metal is always molten. The inner core is solid and about 1,250 km thick, even though temperatures there reach 6700ºF (3700ºC), the pressures are so great that it cannot melt.

The motion of the fluid is sustained by convection at the core, along with the Earth’s rotation which makes this molten metal ocean flow and swirl, the outer fluid core spins around the inner core generating the planet’s magnetic field and the north-south polar axis of the earth.

David Grinspoon has suggested a “Living Worlds hypothesis” in which our understanding of what constitutes habitability cannot be separated from life already extant (living) on a planet. Planets that are geologically and meteorologically alive are much more likely to be biologically alive as well and ‘a planet and its life’ will co-evolve.

- Earth’s Gravity

Gravity enables so many functions that we take for granted. It is thought to have perhaps formed the earth in the first place some 4.3 billion years ago by condensing space material into a massively tight cluster creating the density of the inner core and the rest of the planet outward. The size of our planet and therefore strength of gravity on earth has allowed for all of life to manifest in the beautiful way that it has. Too little gravity would make life ridiculously difficult while too much would mean we would have physically evolved much denser, lower to the ground body structures.

- Earth tilt

The tilt of the earth’s axis at 23.45° gives us the four seasons of the year and enables a healthy and diverse range of pleasant climatic zones.

Since the axis is tilted different hemispheres of the globe are oriented towards the Sun at different times of the year as the earth slowly circles the sun.

The Sun’s rays hit the Earth at a more direct angle during summer than winter and cause the days to be much longer than the nights in summer. During the winter, the Sun’s rays hit the Earth at an extreme angle making the days shorter.

Solstices are days when the Sun reaches its farthest northern and southern declinations. The winter solstice occurs on December 21 or 22 and marks the beginning of winter (this is the shortest day of the year). The summer solstice occurs on June 21 and marks the beginning of summer (this is the longest day of the year).

Equinoxes are days in which day and night are of equal duration. The two yearly equinoxes occur when the Sun crosses the celestial equator.

The vernal equinox occurs in late March (this is the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of fall in the Southern Hemisphere); the autumnal equinox occurs in late September (this is the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere). All of which has helped define our human calendars over the centuries.

It is considered likely by many authors that the current circa 23.5 degree tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation is a relic of the oblique collision which produced the Moon. Furthermore it is argued that the presence of the orbiting Moon has, through a large part of geological time, stabilised this axial tilt or obliquity of the Earth.

- Moon

Enables much of earth’s cycles such as tides and timing for species reproduction.

The sun and the moon both have their influence on the earth. Sometimes they cooperate and sometimes they counteract each other. Such influences are: the gravity, the warmth of the sun, the sunlight and the chronology. Through the gravitational force of the earth the moon orbits the earth. The moon also gravitates the earth, but is less powerful. Due to the way gravity pulls the Earth and Moon toward each other, tides are caused (high tide and low tide). The Sun also has some influence here.


2. Planetary systems that enable our biosphere:

Now we have all of the these immensely fortunate cosmic conditions set in place, what at our earthly level contributes to the workings of our very special biosphere?







The ultimate source of energy for the Earth is the Sun. Without the sun life on Earth would not exist. It would be so cold that no living thing would be able to survive and our planet would be completely frozen.

With another 10 billion years to blaze in our solar system, the Sun represents a virtually inexhaustible supply of energy. An energy source so abundant that the energy contained in what reaches the Earth’s surface can be illustrated as:

- representing in a single year twice as much energy than will ever be obtained from all of the Earth’s non-renewable resources such as; coal, oil, natural gas, and mined uranium combine.

- or more energy in one hour than our human civilisation uses in a year.

Through the process known as photosynthesis green plants convert the Sun’s energy into chemical energy, which in turn underpins the food chains of all eco systems on earth. This process is also responsible for creating other vital resources, services and materials; oxygen production form plants, atmospheric circulation (heating and cooling of Earth’s land surface and oceans -warm air containing evaporated water from the oceans rises, when the air reaches a high altitude, where the temperature is low, water vapour condenses into clouds, which rain onto the Earth’s surface, completing the hydrological or water cycle – also responsible for creating winds). Biomass from which fossil fuels are derived, lumber etc.


The atmosphere provides vital air, enables our water cycle to function, helps our soil to form, plays a key role in photosynthesis, helps trap warmth from the sun, provides a shield against meteorites and within one of its layers (the Stratosphere) is the Ozone layer that absorbs the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

The atmosphere is about 800 km thick and consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0,93% argon, 0,03% carbon dioxide and 0,04% of other gases.

Besides all of the obvious benefits that our atmosphere provides in transporting and circulating elements in the air vital to life our atmosphere provides the means in which it is possible for sounds to travel. Sound in itself being a vital component for the majority of all species to interpret the environment communicate and progress.


The combined mass of water found on, under, and over the surface of a planet. The hydrological cycle is the blood of life that flows through all things, the same water has been around since the beginning of Earth’s existence and constitutes a significant proportion of the biological make up of all living creatures.

-Pedosphere (soil and soil formation processes)

The pedosphere is the outermost layer of the Earth that does the job of creating soil. A process which results from the vital interactions between the atmosphere (air in and above the soil), biosphere (as in living organisms), lithosphere (the Earth’s mineral rich crust) and the hydrosphere (water in, on and below the soil). Healthy soil is a key foundation stone for enabling life on our planet and contained within it is an abundance of micro-organisms structural to all ecosystems.

Soil formation begins with the physical / chemical breakdown of minerals that form the initial material that overlies the bedrock substrate. This process can be sped up by biological organisms secreting acidic compounds that in turn help break rock apart. Earnest biological workers such lichen, mosses and seed bearing plants along with many other inorganic reactions help create the chemical make-up which transforms these basic components into the early soil layer.

Through weathering and decomposition, products accumulate, fluids permeate both vertically and laterally through the soil layer causing ion exchange between solid, fluid and gaseous phases. The soil slowly becomes alive and increasingly inhabited by various forms of organisms.

Over time, upper layers of the Earth’s crust form a vibrant soil layer having changed in composition to form an abundance of life greater than anywhere else on the planet. Dr. E.O. Wilsons states that we cannot underestimate the enormity, complexity and importance of this life, at the level of the pedosphere, to the make up of the planet.

- Lithosphere (tectonic plates)

The lithosphere represents the Earth’s tectonic plates and many valuable resources that reside in this part of our planet in the form of about 80 elements, which occur in over 2000 different compounds and minerals. However, most of the mass of the material in the crust is made up of only 8 of these elements. These are oxygen (O), silica (Si), aluminium (Al), iron (Fe), calcium (Ca), sodium (Na), potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg).

There are seven major plates (counting the Indo-Australian Plate as one) and many minor plates interlocking and covering the entire earth. Earthquakes, volcanic activity, mountain-building, and oceanic trench formation occur along the boundaries of these plates, where at a speed of 2-10 CM per year new crust rises up on one side of each plate and disappears into another boundary it shares with a neighbouring plate. Movement that appears to make the rigid outermost shell of Earth to behave elastically on time scales of thousands of years or greater.

These massive plates ride on the underlying fluid-like (visco-elastic solid) asthenosphere due to their higher strength and lower density.


The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

The scientific investigation of the Gaia hypothesis focuses on observing how the biosphere and the evolution of life forms contribute to the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other factors of habitability in a preferred homeostasis.

The Gaia theory posits that the Earth is a self-regulating complex system involving the biosphere, the atmosphere, the hydrospheres and the pedosphere, tightly coupled as an evolving system. The theory sustains that this system as a whole, called Gaia, seeks a physical and chemical environment optimal for contemporary life.

Gaia evolves through a cybernetic feedback system operated unconsciously by the biota, leading to broad stabilisation of the conditions of habitability in a full homeostasis. Many processes in the Earth’s surface essential for the conditions of life depend on the interaction of living forms, especially micro-organisms, with inorganic elements. These processes establish a global control system that regulates Earth’s surface temperature, atmosphere composition and ocean salinity, powered by the global thermodynamic desequilibrium state of the Earth system.

The existence of a planetary homeostasis influenced by living forms had been observed previously in the field of biogeochemistry, and it is being investigated also in other fields like Earth system science. The originality of the Gaia theory relies on the assessment that such homeostatic balance is actively pursued with the goal of keeping the optimal conditions for life, even when terrestrial or external events menace them.

Autoregulation is a process within many biological systems, resulting from some internal adaptive mechanism that works to adjust (or mitigate) the system’s response to stimuli.

The fourth Gaia conference held in October 2006 approached Gaia Theory as both science and metaphor as a means of understanding how we might begin addressing 21st century issues such as climate change and ongoing environmental destruction.

The Gaia hypothesis was formulated by the chemist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s.


Advanced consciousness

A new concept that now needs to be considered as part of the functioning of a healthy biosphere is the element of healthy consciousness.

As life has formed from within our biosphere, so has consciousness evolved within life. Whether consciousness seeds the formation of physical life or whether biological life evolves consciousness in the physical realm. Either way, carbon based life is biologically housing and supporting consciousness on our planet.

Consciousness that has the ability to affect the biosphere should understand the workings of the biosphere.

To humanity this must mean a form of stewardship that understands the responsibility to respect what is greater than us and yet apart of us. Primarily to abide by and help govern our planet’s life systems and planetary resources, ecologically and socially.