How the Biosphere Works: Fresh Views Discovered While Growing Peppers
(2022, The CRC Press)

This book came as a result of many years of researching human history within the biosphere's history. But because general theoretical principles for doing so were lacking, until now this could not yet systematically be done.
The breakthrough came in August of 2017, when my daughter and I were growing pepper plants in our Amsterdam apartment while observing what they were doing. By mid August, the plants had produced so many leaves that the Sun was unable to shine through them unimpeded. I decided to measure their total combined surface, and found that this was twenty times as large as the surface of the flowerpot they were sitting in.
Inevitably, this meant that our pepper plants were jointly tending toward maximizing the capture of solar energy. Similarly inevitably, tending toward maximizing the available free energy, first geothermal, and later also solar, must have been a general characteristic of all of life after it had first appeared on Earth. So, suddenly a major general principle for structuring and understanding the biosphere’s history was staring into my face.
Further contemplating what our pepper plants were doing led to the recognition of several other general principles that also appear to have been overlooked so far. In addition, a growing number of theoretical biases became clear to me that stood in the way of a better understanding. This made me realize that in order to write an improved history of the biosphere and humanity’s place within it, I needed to rethink virtually all I knew about those subjects. I also needed to explore whether other scholars might already have said similar things.
Doing so took me a few years, while writing the first draft chapters of this current book. To me, the end result looks more satisfactory than any previous accounts of the biosphere’s history. But it remains to be seen what other will think of it. At least I have been very fortunate to find those general principles, while similarly fortunately, The CRC Press has shown great interest and support in helping me to turn all of that into this current book.
More information about the book can be found on the publisher’s website. I realize full well that this book may only signal a first new beginning of thinking along those fresh lines. Much more work will need to be done. Any serious feedback is therefore very welcome.
The main motivation for writing this book has been my long-term research project into how humanity got itself into its current ecological predicament, as well as what can be done to secure the best possible future for all people, including the coming generations, on this beautiful but limited planet Earth, our one and only home in the cosmos. This is explained in some more detail in Career description. If the book helps a little in furthering those goals, I will be more than happy.
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