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Chapter 9

Life on Earth icon

Using Earth system science, we discover that Earth is a networked system with respect to life. Explore Earth’s biodiversity, ecosystems, and feedback loops to reveal the intricate network of relationships that connects all Earth organisms with each other, and with the cycles of matter and flows of energy. Find out why the World Health Organization parachuted cats into Borneo.


  • Three Principles Play   DVD icon
    This play illustrates that Earth is essentially a closed system for matter, an open system for energy, and a networked system for life. See it as part of "Dr. Art's Planet Earth Show" on the DVD.
  • Yeast Respiration   DVD icon
    Experiment with yeast to observe the effect of cellular respiration, the chemical breakdown of sugar that produces carbon dioxide. See the "Respiration" chapter on the DVD.


  • Decomposers
    This video salutes the decomposers including insects, fungi, and worms.


  • Biodiversity Explanation and Explorations
    This website from the American Museum of Natural History explains biodiversity, and takes students into the field and engages them in life science research: the inventory of plants and arthropods outside their own backdoors.
  • Biomes of the World
    Explore our world's different biomes, and see how ecosystems everywere have the same pattern of organization.

Just Kidding

What Me Kidding?, pages 145-158
Life on Earth is sacred, so this chapter has no Dr. Art Just Kidding things. There are two things that you might have thought were Just Kidding. E. O. Wilson really did find more species of ants on one tree in Peru than exist in all of Britain (p. 149). Also the parachuting cats into Borneo story is true (p.156-157).