Rivers, streams and groundwater systems – replenished by rainfall – produce water that sustains all living things. Pollination allows fruit trees to produce fruit and other agricultural crops to grow. Forests sequester carbon, provide timber for wood products, and serve as home for wildlife. Fisheries are a source of food for humans and other species, and estuaries serve as nurseries for fish, shell fish and other marine life. All living creatures depend on such “ecosystem services” or the regular functioning of natural systems that contribute separate but connected strands in the web of life. Diverse and healthy ecosystems and the services they provide are key to sustaining life on Earth.
Spiral Pine Needle Cookstove
In Uttrakand, India, wood fuel is a scarce commodity, as it is illegal to cut branches from the government-owned pine trees. The...
Complex SystemsLast Updated on 2013-10-24 15:13:11
As Science has begun to ask where the enduring features of nature come from and how they work, the answer seems to be “complex systems”. Every kind of thing and event seems to require them. As the science has advanced, and as the modern problems of economies and environmental conflicts emerge, a new kind of science is emerging that requires being very openly exploratory, using all the tools and combining all the related perspectives of others, to develop complex knowledge systems matching the variety of the complex system problems they respond to.
Systems are storms or “like storms” in many respects, complex distributed phenomena that may be either unexpectedly eventful or highly predictable. There’s still a rather wide range of opinion within science as to what complex systems are, even whether they are made of information or... More »
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United StatesLast Updated on 2013-10-12 23:55:15
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal agency within the United States Department of Commerce. As a science-based operational agency tasked with monitoring climate and changes in the environment, NOAA is responsible for the study of the atmosphere and the oceans. The agency issues daily weather forecasts and storm warnings, restores coastline, aids the flow of marine commerce, and manages fisheries. NOAA's activities facilitate weather- and climate-sensitive economic activity that account for roughly one-third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The agency also responds to natural and man-made maritime disasters, operates a complex network of oceanographic, meteorological and atmospheric data-collecting products and services, and manages marine mammals, marine endangered... More »
Call for preserving biological diversityLast Updated on 2013-09-05 00:31:34Two decades after Rio Earth Summit, scientists recommend international efforts to halt biodiversity losses. Such loss is compromising nature's ability to provide goods and services essential for human well-being, the scientists say.
Ecologists Call for Preservation of
Planet's Remaining Biological Diversity
Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, 17 ecologists are calling for renewed international efforts to curb the loss of Earth's biological diversity. The loss is compromising nature's ability to provide goods and services essential for human well-being, the scientists say.
Over the past two decades, strong scientific evidence has emerged showing that decline of the world's biological diversity reduces the productivity and sustainability of ecosystems, according to an international team led by the University of Michigan's Bradley Cardinale. It... More »
Geophony, Biophony, and AnthrophonyLast Updated on 2012-08-09 00:00:00
What do these words mean? Biophony is the melodic sound created by such organisms as frogs and birds; geophony, the composition of non-biological sounds like wind, rain and thunder; and anthrophony, the conglomeration of noise spawned by human activity.
Studying Nature's Rhythms:
Soundscape Ecologists Spawn New Field
The following Discovery article is part is part four in a series on the National Science Foundation's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) investment. Visit parts one, two, three, five, six and seven in this series.
Listen to biophony, geophony, anthrophony: the 'music' of Planet Earth
The following is part four in a series on the National Science Foundation's Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability (SEES) investment. Visit parts one, two, three, five, six and seven in this series.
Geophony.... More »
Dollar Value of Ecosystem ServicesLast Updated on 2012-04-05 00:00:00
The value of ecosystem services typically goes unaccounted for in business and policy decisions and in market prices. For commercial purposes, if ecosystem services are recognized at all, they are perceived as free goods, like clean air and water. Is accounting for these services an idea whose time has come?
This Focus article, written by David C. Holzman*, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the peer-reviewed, open access journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The article is a verbatim version of the original and is not available for edits or additions by Encyclopedia of Earth editors or authors. Companion articles on the same topic that are editable may exist within the Encyclopedia of Earth.
Accounting for Nature's Benefits: The Dollar Value of Ecosystem Services
Healthy ecosystems provide us with fertile soil,... More »
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