Earth Metabolism



During a public talk with the Museum of Natural History on 17 February 2021, Professor Yadvinder Malhi explained the concept of the metabolism of the earth: a flow of energy interlinking its various systems. This energy, however, is not internal to the earth’s ecology: it is a give and take between the earth and its inhabitants, a balance that is currently off-kilter due to human impacts on the environment.


I was struck by how Yadvinder’s descriptions of the earth’s metabolism narrated a vision of the world as a living, breathing entity. His words illustrated not only a larger, holistic earth being, but one that is inherently interconnected to humans, affected by every inhale we take. Through this piece, I hope to use Yadvinder's eloquent words to shed light on earth’s systems as intertwined, collective, and struggling to breathe.

Andrea Vale is a freelance journalist and poet, and has been published in National Geographic, USA Today, The Oxford Scientist, Oceana, and elsewhere. She is currently completing the MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management at the University of Oxford.