Earth applications of closed ecological systems: relevance to the development of sustainability in our global biosphere

Adv Space Res. 2003;31(7):1649-55. doi: 10.1016/s0273-1177(03)80011-x.


The parallels between the challenges facing bioregenerative life support in artificial closed ecological systems and those in our global biosphere are striking. At the scale of the current global technosphere and expanding human population, it is increasingly obvious that the biosphere can no longer safely buffer and absorb technogenic and anthropogenic pollutants. The loss of biodiversity, reliance on non-renewable natural resources, and conversion of once wild ecosystems for human use with attendant desertification/soil erosion, has led to a shift of consciousness and the widespread call for sustainability of human activities. For researchers working on bioregenerative life support in closed systems, the small volumes and faster cycling times than in the Earth's biosphere make it starkly clear that systems must be designed to ensure renewal of water and atmosphere, nutrient recycling, production of healthy food, and safe environmental methods of maintaining technical systems. The development of technical systems that can be fully integrated and supportive of living systems is a harbinger of new perspectives as well as technologies in the global environment. In addition, closed system bioregenerative life support offers opportunities for public education and consciousness changing of how to live with our global biosphere.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity
  • Carbon / chemistry
  • Carbon / metabolism
  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Earth, Planet*
  • Ecological Systems, Closed*
  • Environmental Pollution / prevention & control*
  • Eukaryota / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Life Support Systems*
  • Research / trends*
  • Space Flight


  • Carbon