Biosphere

 

 

All parts of the Earth where life occurs, comprising the lower parts of the atmosphere, oceans, fresh waters, soils and land surfaces, including cities and farms, and their underlying sediments and shallow rock layers.  The word was coined (from the Greek bios ‘life’ and sphaira ‘ball’) by the Austrian geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914), popularised by the Russian-Ukrainian geochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863-1945), and now means the planetary ecosystem as a whole.  Since this is where all human evolution, experience and history have occurred (aside from some recent excursions), the biosphere is effectively another name for the living world (or just ‘world’ – meaning the Earth of human experience, rather than the planet of which the biosphere is a thin outer skin).