Gaia’s Body: Toward a Physiology of Earth by Tyler Volk

By Tyler Volk

Is Earth alive? placed extra carefully, is the biosphere a self- maintaining meta-organism? this is often the essence of Gaia idea: if the biosphere particularly is a unmarried coherent approach, then it should have anything like a body structure. It should have structures and techniques that practice residing features. okay, then, what structures, what techniques, what features? Gaia's physique is Tyler Volk's solution to this question. during this publication, he describes the surroundings that permits the biosphere to exist; a number of methods of its "anatomy" and "physiology," the key biogeographical areas equivalent to rainforests, deserts, and tundra; the most important elements the biosphere is made from; and the chemical cycles that preserve it in stability. He then seems to be on the query of even if there are any long term developments in earth's evolution--is Gaia turning out to be chillier? extra complex?--and examines the position of humanity in Gaia's earlier and destiny. Adherents and skeptics either have frequently been involved that Gaia idea includes an excessive amount of goddess and too few testable hypotheses. this can be the ebook that describes, for scientists, scholars, and lay readers alike, the theory's enterprise foundation in science.

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Carbon as lead actor and oxygen as walk-on have dominated the scene so far, but also crucial are nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, calcium, and other elements, including life's essential trace elements such as iron and magnesium. Their global circuits are called the biogeochemical cycles. These combine biology, chemistry, and geology. Studying them takes us directly into the guts of Gaia's metabolism. " With the discovery of the double circulation of the blood, physiology was off to a great start. But eventually the 23 Gaia's Body practitioners of biology and medicine wanted to know more: What controls the circulation rate?

Slender young birches, oaks, and, yes, pines. But mostly I was moved to joy by the single entangled whole. In less ecstatic moments, as well, I would call the park an entity. This unit of land management within the town clearly ranks as a thing because its legal borders are visibly defined by the surrounding streets. Three hundred years ago, when the entire region was more or less forested, that particular plot would not so obviously have deserved a name. Is the possession of borders crucial to a thing's being a thing?

While still in the soil's interstices of air, however, the respired molecule of carbon dioxide could have taken another path altogether. The odds of its taking this path are about one in a hundred. Traveling in groundwater with calcium ions, the carbon-now in the form of a bicarbonate ion-eventually reaches the Parana River and ultimately the southern Atlantic Ocean. Even if it had taken the path of the other 99 and re-entered the atmosphere from the soil, it might have ended up in the south Atlantic (or some other ocean), brushed against the water's sticky surface by a random downdraft, popped by its own molecular agitation across the interface, and dissolved.

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