There reasons why the Earth’s system, as it is, is evolving in such a way that life quality is gradually degraded with emergence of new large-scale and long-term irreversible threats, e.g. global warming, decline of natural resources, collapse in bio-divesity and accelerating degradation in life quality. However, understanding the base-line conditions and requirements for the appropriate functioning and metabolism of the Earth’s system calls for instruments and tools to define the Earth system as it should be. This is essential and imperative at least for the survival of life on earth and to bring about sustainable socio-economic developments around the world.
Earth system science (ESS) is the application of system’s science to the Earth’s system. In particular, the interactions between the Earth’s “spheres”—atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, biosphere, and, also, the magnetosphere – as well as the impact of humans on these components. At its broadest scale, Earth system science brings together researchers across both the natural and social sciences, from diverse fields including ecology, economics, geology, glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology, sociology, and space science. Like the broader subject of system’s science, Earth system science assumes a holistic view of the dynamic interaction between the Earth’s spheres and their many constituent subsystems, the resulting organization and time evolution of these systems, and their stability or instability.
The Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, offers the following description: “Earth system science embraces chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and applied sciences in transcending disciplinary boundaries to treat the Earth as an integrated system. In this context, we can achieve a deeper understanding of the physical, chemical, biological and human interactions that determine the past, current and future states of the Earth. Earth system science provides a physical basis for understanding the world in which we live and upon which humankind seeks to achieve sustainability.