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On GaiaA Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth$
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Toby Tyrrell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691121581

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691121581.001.0001

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The Puzzle of Life’s Long Persistence

The Puzzle of Life’s Long Persistence

Chapter:
(p.171) Chapter 9 The Puzzle of Life’s Long Persistence
Source:
On Gaia
Author(s):

Toby Tyrrell

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691121581.003.0009

This chapter looks at two separate viewpoints which can be used as a foundation for the consideration of what long-term life persistence means for the evaluation of Gaia. As part of describing one view, it explains why atmospheric CO2 is susceptible to rapid change. As a consequence, the Earth could, in theory, quite easily have shifted to a state of freezing cold or of boiling heat within only a short interval of geologic time. In either case, if the shift was extreme enough, life can be expected to have been completely and irrevocably extinguished. That such a shift never took place, that all life never perished even once over such an immensity of time, seems an improbable outcome. The second view is based on the so-called anthropic principle. In contrast, it cautions that, given that humans are here, life must necessarily have survived.

Keywords:   long-term life, life persistence, Gaia, atmospheric CO2, anthropic principle, climate shifts

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