This article is devoted to analyzing the need to develop life support systems (LSS) and using these systems under the conditions of the twenty-first century. The underlying problem concerns the use of all kinds of natural resources, especially nonrenewable ones, and the growing negative impact of human civilization on the earth's environment. In the first part of the article, the concept of a universal thermodynamic unit—available energy (exergy)—is analyzed. It is shown that applying this concept allows us to solve two fundamental problems. The first one is the " Vernadsky problem " of the objective evaluation of all the natural materials and energy resources of the earth by using universal units. The second problem involves the calculation of the thermodynamic efficiency of a given LSS and consequently the principal possibilities and limitations of an improvement in this regard. Furthermore, the energy, entropy, and exergy balances of the earth are presented and analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively with reference to the possibilities and limitations of the matter and energy potentials of our planet for use in different LSSs. In the second part of the article, the economic problems that are closely linked with LSS optimization and the prediction of future development in this field are considered. It is demonstrated that neoclassical economics (NCE) cannot solve all problems related to the objective analysis and outlook for LSS development under the new conditions of the twenty-first century. The concept of " natural price " is analyzed and several of its applications are discussed. It is shown that there are three goal-functions of the optimization of such systems, depending on the level of the problem. In conclusion, the paths to an " ecological economy " that provides for reduced use of neo-organic resources and the renewal of natural organic resources, along with the corresponding future development of LSSs, are analyzed.