Gaia Hypothesis

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Nov. 21, 2012 (Gandeza Honelyn)
Ecology 2:30-5:30
The Gaia Hypothesis
A Goddess of the earth: "The Gaia hypothesis says that the temperature, oxidation state, acidity, and certain aspects of the rocks and waters are kept constant, and that this homeostasis is maintained by active feedback processes operated automatically and unconsciously by the biota." - James Lovelock, The Ages of Gaia It often seems obvious that life on earth lives at the mercy of powerful non-biological forces like volcanic eruptions, storms, climate change, and even the movement of continents. Because of the Gaia hypothesis developed we learned how we believe matter and the universe came about, how the solar system was formed, and how life on earth emerged and diversified. Today much of the earth's surface is covered by a layer of life, and everywhere on earth the influence of living organisms has an effect. The Gaia hypothesis is based on the idea that, over the long run of geological time, life may control the powerful physical forces for its own good. "The Gaia hypothesis states that the lower atmosphere of the earth is an integral, regulated, and necessary part of life itself. For hundreds of millions of years, life has controlled the temperature, the chemical composition, the oxidizing ability, and the acidity of the earth's atmosphere" (Margulis, L and J. Lovelock. 1976.) To summarize the concept the Gaia hypothesis states that life on earth controls the physical and chemical conditions of the environment (the biotic controls the abiotic). The hypothesis points to stable conditions, such as oxygen levels and climate, as evidence that living organisms maintain a life-sustaining environment. The hypothesis has been defined and argued in numerous ways, and has as many critics as adherents. It is in need of more explicit formulation before it can be examined and tested as a true scientific theory.
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