Why do we study the BIOSPHERE?
Life began some 3.5 billion years ago in the oceans of an Earth very different from what we see today. Early forms of life were very simple single-celled organisms, somewhat like modern bacteria, that somehow obtained the ability to reproduce themselves spontaneously. Through eons of geologic time, other more complex organisms evolved and eventually the diversity of life was able to inhabit the dry lands and skies as well as the oceans. Many of these organisms, such as the dinosaur, no longer exist. Others that we know of today, including ourselves, have only been around for a few million years or less.
Life is fragile. Because the biosphere is made up of all life, it too is fragile. Humans can have a huge impact on the biosphere, in both good and bad ways. The growth of the human population on Earth means there is less room for other species. Because of this, many types of plants and animals have been partially or completely wiped out. Some of these threatened species, if allowed to perish, may ultimately cause imbalances within their ecosystem, perhaps adversely affecting other species. It is also possible that there are plants and animals we have yet to discover and study (and help protect) that may help scientists find medicinal cures for deadly diseases and viruses. The biosphere is important to people because we can have such a profound impact on it.
In addition, the biosphere sustains us, both in the food that we eat, and in the air that we breathe. Whether we are vegetarians or meat-eaters, the energy we need and the protein we need to build our bodies comes from things in the biosphere. We also need oxygen to breathe, and the organisms on the sea and on the land use our waste carbon dioxide, creating the oxygen we need to breathe.
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