J. Phys. IV France
Volume 139, December 2006
Page(s) 143 - 155
From Regional Climate Modelling to the Exploration of Venus
C. Boutron
J. Phys. IV France 139 (2006) 143-155

DOI: 10.1051/jp4:2006139010

Earth system analysis and the future of the biosphere

W. Lucht

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, PO Box 601203, 14412 Potsdam, Germany

(Published online: 9 January 2007)

The global biosphere has begun to change fundamentally as a consequence of human actions. This change can be understood as a consequence of a major transition in the evolution of life on Earth, the emergence of human language, which opened up new pathways of biological information transmission. The challenge facing the humans species now is to not just suffer the consequences of this change, but to develop a science of Earth system analysis that will allow the collective, globally networked reflective capacity of humans to chart paths into the future that are sustainable. Global observation and computer modelling are important elements of this process. Such models for the biosphere predict large-scale reorganisation of the functional composition of the terrestrial biosphere under strong anthropogenic climate change. Considering the advent of humans and of global change on the background of the past evolution of life on Earth, it is obvious that the co-evolution between geosphere and biosphere that has characterised Earth history in the past has expanded to include the anthroposphere as a third interacting element.

© EDP Sciences 2006