The first early humans to use fire had no inkling of what it would lead to.

Fire was one of our first technologies, and humans have been making changes to their environments since the advent of controlled fire hundreds of thousands of years ago. Fast forward to current times, and our modern technological and global civilization is changing the Earth’s entire biosphere. From carbon emissions that acidify the oceans and weaken the shells of marine life to microplastics that find their way into organisms’ bloodstreams, our technology is intersecting, or combining, with the biosphere.

This has spawned a useful word: biotechnosphere.

Get accustomed to the word biotechnosphere. It’s appearing more often, and if you’re not familiar with it, you might soon be. It’s a word with a purpose whose time has come. The biosphere comprises the parts of Earth where life exists, and the biotechnosphere is the biosphere intersecting with our technology.

While much of humanity’s technological effect on Earth’s biosphere is accidental, it won’t always be. Eventually, if humanity can become a successful, long-duration civilization, we’ll purposefully use technology to manage the biosphere in comprehensive and advantageous ways. Think geoengineering, for example. We may be forced to use it to cool the Earth. But if we last long enough, the Earth will eventually enter another extensive glacial period, and we’ll have to figure out how to keep our planet warm.

At that point, we’ll basically be terraforming Earth, trying to keep it nice and habitable and steady. We may even attempt to terraform other planets.

If this is the situation we’re in, then chances are that other ETIs that might exist are in the same situation.

A new article leans on the word biotechnosphere a lot, pointing out that a biotechnosphere will affect planetary evolution, and that it could be both a biosignature and a technosignature—a biotechnosignature—in the hunt for other Extraterrestrial Intelligences (ETIs.)

To read more, click here.