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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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Life at the Edge

Life at the Edge

Lesons from Extremophiles

(p.47) Chapter 3 Life at the Edge
On Gaia

Toby Tyrrell

Princeton University Press

This chapter begins by reviewing the most recent research on extremophiles. It then examines the suggestion that the suitability of the planetary environment for life is strong evidence in favor of Gaia. The evidence presented in this chapter suggests that only a much weaker claim is possible. The fact that the biosphere is comfortably attuned to the biota inhabiting it is to be expected just through evolution. Indeed, habitat commitment demonstrates that evolution alone will tend to produce a comfortable environment for the organisms inhabiting it, by adjusting the environmental preferences of the organisms. Nevertheless, the fact of the habitability of the Earth, and of the good fit between its organisms and environments, is fully compatible with Gaia. However, it is also at the same time equally compatible with the coevolutionary and geological hypotheses.

Keywords:   extremophiles, planetary environment, Gaia, biosphere, evolution, habitat commitment, environmental preferences

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