The Gaia Hypothesis Essay, Research Paper
It is true to say that mankind mindfully recognizes the Earth as the third planet from the sun, and the only planet that is capable of supporting life. Furthermore, it can also be said that mankind thinks of the Earth as somewhat of a stable platform for human existence. But is this long accepted theorem true? This question along with many more to follow began to stump scientists. The demand and curiosity for answers was impetuous. Why is it that Earth, unlike Venus or Mars, able to support life? These were some of the questions scientists began to investigate. And these are the questions that led up to the outcome of The Gaia Hypothesis . This hypothesis, encountered by a British biochemist, James Lovelock, states that planet Earth is not just a platform for an environment for life but is indeed a living organism itself, which alternates its settings to assure its survival. This biochemist also stated that the Gaia Hypothesis postulates that the physical and chemical condition of the surface of the Earth, of the atmosphere, and of the oceans has been and is actively made fit and comfortably by the presence of life itself. In addition, Lovelock believed that the Earth s self-abetting living system is mechanical, not requiring of any assistance. He investigated this concept and found the results in favor of his hypothesis. His investigation went back to the beginning of life, when the earth was first formed. He found that at that time, the Earth was extremely hot, so hot that the planet was in danger of overheating, due to Carbon Dioxide or the greenhouse effect . But further into his study, he also discovered that such overheating never occurred. Somehow as this heating process began, the earth managed to remove excess Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere, turning it into algae called coccolithophors. He also noticed that when millions of these coccalithophors group together, they are clearly visible over a vast area of the ocean. This made it possible to collect samples of the water, from the English Channel, containing the coccalithophors. When the sample of water was filtered and the residue examined, it was found that a shell made of calcium carbonate protected this type of algae. Moreover, this type of algae dissolved into the bottom of the ocean, trapping the Carbon Dioxide with it. And for the algae that did not dissolve, together they formed to build great big barriers such as the cliff of Dover. Another study that helped to support the Gaia Hypothesis was the discovery of yet another way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to replace it with nonetheless another gas, one more essential to later society. The gas is known as Oxygen. It was during this time that Lovelock unearthed that trees used the carbon in the ground as a building platform for their growth. Yet when the trees died, their roots released the carbon dioxide back into the ground. Then, as the bacteria in the ground reacts with the Carbon Dioxide, it causes the gas to oxidize. Lovelock went on to say that all green vegetation went through a process like what was just explained called photosynthesis, where a plant takes in carbon dioxide, in turn to release oxygen. Thus, never too much oxygen was ever released into the atmosphere, and its level was always held precisely, never too low, nor too dangerously high. Lovelock proved with this point that life operates in a regulated form.
Yet in addition, he went on further to say that people also act as part of this interactive system. That all life form does. He found that before humanity, nothing roamed on the surface of the Earth except for bacteria. This bacteria, called stromatolite admitted gas. This gas was Oxygen and this was one of the automatic processes in Gaia Lovelock explored. Today, most of the stromatolite remaining survives in clusters. Some leave their mark behind in your footsteps while others sit like an unread book as fossils. But when this fossilized bacteria, which is in the form of a rock, is cut open, it is possible to see several layers of color. The bottom portion of the fossil is made of hydrogen sulfide, while the middle (pink) is made of sulfide, and the top layer (green) is made up of yet another type of bacteria. This bacterium is called Cyanobacteria. Lovelock suggests that this is what played a role in changing the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere the Earth once possessed into the oxygen-mixed one that exists up till today. Finally, Lovelock goes on to propose that this global superorganism has actively maintained planetary homeostatis over the three and a half billion years it has been alive. He also added, Specifically, the Gaia hypothesis says that the temperature, oxidation, state, acidity, and certain aspects of the rocks and waters are kept constant, and that this homeostatis is maintained by active feedback processes operated automatically and unconsciously by the biota. In conclusion, although the Gaia Hypothesis is somewhat still of a controversy, some people have used it as an alternative way of explaining the evolution of the earth and how life operates. It does though remind human society, as we are living organisms, that it is the earth that is being modified as an outcome of our actions and what the future brings, nobody perceives. And who knows, quite possibly, we may discover one day if this controversy is indeed true, if the terminus of the dinosaurs or even the terminus of ourselves is caused by the outcome of the Gaia Hypothesis.