The physical and biological worlds are linked. They make a complete system. People live as part of this system and meet their needs by drawing on the natural resources and ecosystem services that this system is able to provide. As humanity’s society and economy have evolved, the needs of the growing population have been met by technological means. As well as enjoying the resulting benefits, such as becoming wealthier and living longer, society has found it necessary to protect human health and well-being from the adverse consequences of technological advances. More recently, steps have been taken to protect wildlife and its habitats as well. In the future, wise decisions could depend on society having a more complete and quantified view of the links between human well-being and the Earth’s systems. In all probability, this must be considered very early in the process of technological innovation and societal development. In a global world, research in this area is needed because of changes to the climate and growth of the global population. Research findings should inform policy and business developments and foster wise decision-making at both local and global scales.