In recent decades, the global disturbance of biogeochemical cycles by mankind, invasion of the climate system, and reduction of wildlife and biodiversity have been actively studied. In this regard, as well as with the fast population growth, food shortages, waves of hunger, the question about the capacity of the biosphere and the ability of life support systems to continue to perform their functions in the face of growing anthropogenic impact arose.
The scientific foundations of the unity of the biosphere were laid by V. Vernadsky, who originally developed the scientific biogeochemical approach. He proved that living matter is an integral attribute of a single mechanism of the atmosphere-hydrosphere-lithosphere system. G. Lovelock (1982) proposed the Gaia theory, according to which the Earth can be considered as one complex organism where soil, biota, atmosphere and ocean are combined. Living matter controls the composition of the atmosphere and thereby counteracts any negative changes in the biosphere. Forward and backward connections maintain homeostasis, i.e. sustainable state of Earth. V. Gorshkov (1995) expressed in the language of mathematical formulas G. Lovelock's hypothesis about the homeostasis of the global ecosystem. The biosphere obeys the Le Chatelier-Brown principle and behaves like a self-regulating system with capacity of suppressing any natural disturbances and restoring a certain internal balance.
In 2015 an international team of scientists published an article in the journal Science
claiming that the relatively stable Holocene era, which lasted for 11,700 years, is the only ecosystem state that can support modern human societies. But over the past century, human activities have endangered the functioning of the biosphere, bringing it to the threshold of stability. The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment concluded that changes in ecosystems resulting from human activities had been faster in the past 50 years than at any time in human history, increasing the risks of abrupt and irreversible changes. The main drivers of change are the demand for food, water and energy, which causes severe biodiversity loss and changes in ecosystem services. According to the UN, the climate and water systems have approached critical levels. For example, according to the concept of planetary-boundaries
, a point where the loss of summer polar sea ice is almost certainly irreversible has been reached. In 2019 scientists saw new record levels of carbon dioxide CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This led to the inclusion of climate and water management issues in the Sustainable Development Goals
According to UN experts, climate change
is already having a noticeable impact on all countries on all continents. On the basis of this, global transformations like natural disasters or sea level rise and real economic consequences forecast in the nearest future. As a result of travel bans and slowing economic growth caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by about 6% in 2020. But this improvement is only temporary. Climate change has not stopped. How to continue the development of human societies and maintain the systems of the Earth in a stable state? It is a sharp question and it requires practices aimed at the co-evolution of human and nature.