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This concise undergraduate textbook brings together Earth and biological sciences to explore the co-evolution of the Earth and life over geological time. Written for a one-semester course, it explores the Earth system at and above the surface of the Earth by examining the interactions and feedback processes between the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere. It also explains how the Earth's surface environment involves a complex interplay between these systems. Through a wealth of features and student questioning, An Introduction to the Earth-Life System allows students to understand how physical controls make our planet hospitable for life, investigate the processes of global change that operate on a range of timescales, understand important cross-disciplinary connections and explore how the whole Earth system has evolved. Finally, it assesses how and why the climate of the Earth has varied over geological time, and considers whether life itself is passive or an active agent for change.
1. A habitable planet
2. The emergence and persistence of life
3. The carbon cycle
4. Plate tectonics, climate and life
5. Mountains and climate change
6. Life in the Phanerozoic
7. The Earth at extremes
Answers to questions
Charles Cockell is Professor of Microbiology at The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK. His academic interests lie in geomicrobiology, astrobiology and space exploration and he has undertaken expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, among other places, to study life in extreme environments. Professor Cockell has written and edited six other books including Impossible Extinction (Cambridge University Press, 2003).
"This innovative Earth science textbook provides a thoroughly new way to look at the history of Earth and life. The pedagogic aspects are particularly well thought through and current research case studies, engaging questions, and practical examples will be beneficial to both students and instructors."
– Mike Benton, Professor of Vertebrate Palaeontology, University of Bristol
"[...] this textbook will be suitable for geoscience educators as well as for students as a stimulating reading or an invitation to more profound thinking. [...] Nature amateurs and professional geoscientists may find this book a good source of information on selected subjects like the carbon cycle or the influences of the mountain growth on climate."
– Paläontologie Allgemeine
"[...] well illustrated [...] very accessible [...]"
– The Geographical Journal