Earth science comprises the scientific study of planet Earth. It involves the study of the sciences that deal with the formation, composition, distribution and changes occurring in the planet, including geology, oceanography, geochemistry, geophysics, meteorology, and a number of sub-disciplines. The study of Earth sciences has allowed people to understand natural processes, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, the formation of clouds and eruptions; composition of the Earth; the different ecosystems and the relation among them. The study of Earth science can contribute in creating a better sense of awareness in people regarding the survival of the biosphere.
The biosphere is the region of the Earth that is inhabited by living organisms, including plants, animals and bacteria. The biosphere is composed of the outer region (lithosphere) of the Earth; the lower region (troposphere) of the atmosphere; and the hydrosphere (oceans, lakes). The biosphere extends, from the bottom of the ocean floor to the summit of the highest mountains, in a layer with an average thickness of approximately 20 km (12 miles). All kinds of life, from the volcanic sprouts rising from the ocean floor to the extremely cold temperatures of the Poles, are found in the biosphere.
The main components of the biosphere include carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, magnesium, chlorine, sulfur, silicon, potassium, aluminum and iron with oxygen, being the most abundant element and allowing life to exist on Earth. Life in the biosphere is composed of these basic elements. When organisms die, they are reduced to their basic components. These basic elements are used again in complex biological processes in the creation of life in a cycle that has been going on since the creation of life on the planet. An understanding of the processes involved in life creation and the effects of ecologic disequilibrium can contribute to the survival of the biosphere.
Since the creation of life 3.8 billion years ago, the biosphere has maintained the planet´s climate, allowing life to continue as we know it. Most of the Earth´s biosphere (plants) use sunlight as their primary source of energy in a process known as photosynthesis. Many other organisms (animals, humans) depend on photosynthetic organisms as their source of energy. The organisms that depend on the sun´s energy to sustain life inhabit the upper regions of the ocean, the outer layer of the Earth (lithosphere) and lower atmosphere (troposphere). Bacteria and other life forms also exist several kilometers beneath the Earth´s surface and deep in the oceans.
Scientific explorations have found bacteria at much deeper levels in cracks in rocks, oil reservoirs, and salt and mineral mines. These organisms do not rely of the sun´s energy for survival but rather they use other forms of energy (chemical energy- chemosynthesis) to process their metabolic activity. Some bacterial cells and fungal spores are also found in the upper atmosphere, although in limited proportions due to the absence of nutrients and harmful levels of solar radiation.
The way in which the study of Earth science may contribute to the survival of the biosphere relies on the way in which man better comprehends the processes that drive the diversity of life within it. Living species depend on one another for survival. The ecosystems have attained such complexity that an insignificant change could annihilate a variety of living species on the planet. The survival of the biosphere depends on the interaction and interdependence between the various species of animals and plants in the ecosystems of the planet.
The study of Earth science allows people to see the diversity of life that exists in every corner of the biosphere. The biosphere is the region of the Earth that contains all known life in the planet, from exotic creatures thriving in the most hostile environments to a variety of animals inhabiting the oceans, deserts, and forests of the world. According to earthsci.org, an understanding of the earth, its processes and geological history, is essential for the sustainability of the planet´s resources. By understanding Earth science, human beings can make better decisions regarding the survival of the biosphere.