About Us

A collaboration for research and education.

The PDF (right) provides a selected outline of our work.                                                    Ecospheres info Jan 2022

The principle collaborators in the Ecospheres Project are Dr Martin J. Heath in the UK (life sciences and earth sciences) and Dr. Laurance Doyle in the USA (astrophysics; SETI Institute).

Much of our joint published work has been what is called “horizon-scanning.” Our papers have identified potential major areas for future research. We have pioneered several rewarding fields (mostly related to habitable planets) which have later developed into major investigations explored by the broader scientific community.

Our team brings together the close relationships between solar evolution, geodynamics, and the way in which life itself modifies its own environment. These have been responsible for the substantial changes over geological time of how the Earth’s ecosphere (planetary scale ecosystem) has functioned. 

We have highlighted a major event in Earth history that we have denoted it as the “Upsurge.” It was initiated in the middle of the Cretaceous Period, when flowering plants (angiosperms) began to transformed the ecosphere. It continues today as human civilisation remains supported by a host of angiosperms.   

This perspective provides an essential understanding of how the Earth developed not only as a habitable planet, but a planet able to sustain complex life. This offers clues as to how other planets might also develop such organisms and their ecospheres, and what one might we looking for in the search for habitable planets. We do not assume that all habitble planets or their life must be Earth-like, but the Earth can be a useful starting point.

As inhabitants of Planet Earth, we are enthusiastic supports in the effort to defend life on Earth from human-driven global change and its impacts. We join the call for action to minimise the threats to the Earth’s natural life-support systems and human communities. We have introduced the phrase “Earth Crisis,” rather than “Climate Change.”  

  • We are engaged in a systematic re-evaluation of the opportunities for planets and moons to support planetary-scale ecosystems with complex life.
  •  Investigation of the ability of Earth-like and other planets to support ecosystems with complex life and high biomass (as in forests) establishes a bridge between studies of the most basic conditions for life, as emphasised by the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the search for communicative civilisations being conducted by the SETI Institute.
  •  Our “Earth Crisis – Earth Action” campaign, through the Prime Meridian newsletter (PM 141. June 30, 2021), seeks to raise awareness of the central role scientific research must play in the urgent effort to safeguard Earth’s natural life support systems and secure the welfare of human communities. We stress the vital role of forests in climate amelioration and banks of biodiversity.
  • Public outreach has been pursued through co-operation with academic bodies, courses, field work, public presentations and TV documentaries.