Verndasky, Vladimir I. | The Biosphere

  • First English language edition, first printing of this key work in the history of ecology, originally published in Russian in 1926. A beautiful copy.

    Author Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945) remains little known in the West, but he was a leading Russian geochemist whose main contributions to science were expanding on and popularising the concept of the biosphere and adding to it his theory that plant, animal, and human life had a significant influence on the Earth’s geology and chemistry. This was controversial, as most scientists believed that human and animal activity could not affect the planet’s atmosphere or geological processes.

    “A bare handful of scientists thought otherwise. The deepest thinker was the Russian geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky. From his work mobilizing industrial production for the First World War, Vernadsky recognized that the volume of materials produced by human industry was approaching the scale of geological processes. Analyzing biochemical activities, he concluded that the oxygen, nitrogen, and C02 that make up the Earth’s atmosphere are put there largely by living creatures. In the 1920s he published works arguing that living organisms constituted a force for reshaping the planet comparable to any physical force. beyond this he saw a new and still greater force coming into play: intelligence, Vernadsky’s visionary pronouncements about humanity as a geological force were not widely read, however, and struck most readers as nothing but romantic ramblings” (Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming, pp. 14-15).

    This edition, the first complete publication of The Biosphere in English, is fully annotated and includes a foreword by thirteen scientists and historians, including the prominent biologist Lynn Margulis (1938-2011), who made the important discovery that bacterial organelles such as mitochondria were originally free-living bacteria.

  • ...Foreword by Lynn Margulis [et al]. Introduction by Jacques Grinevald. Translated by David B. Langmuir. Revised and Annotated by Mar A. S. McMenamin. New York: Copernicus, Spring-Verlag, 1998.

    Quarto. Original quarter black cloth over red boards, titles to spine in metallic blue, black endpapers with white text. With the dust jacket. A little very mild rubbing and a small spot to the jacket. A superb copy in excellent condition.