In many of my writings I advocate an alternative to reductionist approaches to science. By alternative, I mean a complementary, different way of doing things, not a replacement for reductionism. Many excellent reviews of scientific approaches, viewpoints, and methodological stances exist by historians, philosophers and sociologists of science, and by scientists themselves. I do not intend to review or critique these various approaches here. Further, I have no intent to deny the value or necessity of reductionist science. The crux of my argument is that a reductionist approach, by itself, is inadequate or incomplete for understanding Earth.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines reductionism as an attempt or tendency to explain a complex set of facts, entities, phenomena, or structures by another, simpler set, and provides a quote from John Holland:
For the last 400 years science has advanced by reductionism ... The idea is that you could understand the world, all of nature, by examining smaller and smaller pieces of it. When assembled, the small pieces would explain the whole.