Printer Friendly

Plants: definitely for the better.

Plants: Definitely for the better

While human activities may be warming Earth, the rest of life exerts a strong cooling influence on the planet. Trying to quantify that effect, a new study suggests the world was a whopping 30[deg.]C or 45[deg.]C warmer before life evolved, report David W. Schwartzman of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Tyler Volk of New York University in the Aug. 10 NATURE.

They concentrated their examination on how life affects the chemical weathering of rocks -- a process that pulls carbon dioxide from the air and thereby keeps Earth's surface cool. Schwartzman and Volk contend that researchers have failed to consider the many ways in which higher plants, algae and fungi increase weathering rates, in particular by preventing soil erosion. The new work shows that such life forms might speed weathering by perhaps 1,000 times.

Before life arose, Earth may have been devoid of most soil, the researchers propose. Their calculations indicate the earliest life helped make the planet more hospitable for later forms -- a suggestion reminiscent of the controversial Gaia hypothesis, which holds that life regulates conditions on Earth.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:climate
Publication:Science News
Date:Aug 19, 1989
Words:190
Previous Article:Natural gas: for better or for worse?
Next Article:Climate change: boon to western trees?
Topics:


Related Articles
Polar greenhouses.
Global climate change: components and consequences.
GARDENING : BAUHINIA: A PLANT NAME WORTHY OF BOTANICAL BROTHERS.
LUSH BUT NOT THIRSTY; NURSERYMAN WROTE THE BOOK ON SCV GARDENS.
MARIJUANA OPERATION AT LOS PADRES FOREST.
The irony of climate: archaeologists suspect that a shift in the planet's climate thousands of years ago gave birth to agriculture. Now climate...
Climate for change: England gets serious about global warming.
Nature's tipping point: combating global climate change must include trees.
IN THE GARDEN THEIR SPRINKLERS RUNNETH OVER.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2016 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters