Did life save this planet?
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30-04-2013, 06:33 AM
Did life save this planet?
All right, so I was thinking again, so bare with as I lead you through my thought process.

Global warming today is caused by CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
The CO2 causes a green house effect, heating up the planet.

CO2 is being put into the atmosphere because we are burning 'fossil fuels'.
Oil and coal are comprised of compacted and pressurized animal, but mainly, plant life.

Ok, keep that in mind for now.

Looking at the Earths timeline, mainly the timeline of animals on earth, there is some interesting times for things.
For example, the dinosaurs died out 65million years ago. Small mammals survived and thrived, in that time they have evolved to without a doubt the best life forms this planet has ever seen (this one at his computer in particular).
Yet, when we look at the time from the first life forms, stromatolites to something resembling a tiny animal, the period of time is roughly 2.5billion years. Over half the actual life of the Earth...

I think if we look at the time between small mammals and humans today, I don't think life has difficulty evolving, I think the problem arises that conditions are not ideal.
ie: Large mammals require a certain percentage of the air to be oxygen as oxygen is a very good fuel that creatures can burn fast and gives a lot of energy. As opposed to photosynthesis for example.

As such I think it is safe to conclude, and I'm sure the scientific research is out there, that oxygen levels were not up to par a couple billion years ago to sustain large life, and so none developed.

What did develop though were stromatolites. Now, stromatolites use carbon dioxide and sunlight just like most plants and produce oxygen.
I think due to the lack of animals it is safe to assume that co2 was extremely abundant. As such the planet must have very very warm indeed due to the greenhouse effect.

Over the next billion years these stromatolites converted co2 to oxygen. This then created a better fuel and allowed bigger creatures to develop etc..
But it must have also cooled the planet.

Later on we see small fish and early shellfish things swimming around in the now oxygen rich water but we don't see any land creatures yet.
Instead we see land plants. LOTS of land plants.
Like the stromatolites they convert co2 to oxygen. The important part being taking co2 from the atmosphere as this must have again cooled the planet.
Perhaps this is why land creatures came to be because the planet was cooling and sea creatures could come out of the water without "drying out" in the heat?

But also perhaps this is why we have had many "mini ice ages"? The ice builds up over the planet, plants die, creatures adapt, co2 levels increase heating the planet up, the ice withdraws, plants grow again etc..? I dunno much about that.


But anyway, my point of all this is that plants, aka life, took co2 from our atmosphere. The same co2 we are now putting back into it.
Had stromatolites or plants not have occurred, then that co2 would surely still remain.
Then due to spiraling out of control, surely the seas would evaporate or boil and the Earth would be a misty hot barren waste land only able to sustain life on the micro level.

My question being, without life, would life not have been possible?

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30-04-2013, 06:43 AM
RE: Did life save this planet?
Cool post.

I think your question should have been phrased "Without the early forms of life, would our current life forms be possible?"

I'd say simply because we are here (we being all current life forms) that this seems to be true though I'm no paleo-biologist. Maybe TheBeardedDude could chime in.

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“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's." - Mark Twain in Eruption
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30-04-2013, 08:50 AM
RE: Did life save this planet?
In the beginning, there was no free oxygen in the atmosphere. Zilch. Nada. Zip.

It took billions of years for early life to oxygenate the oceans, then the atmosphere.

It took a long time partly due to the oxygen being combined with the iron and other metals dissolved in the oceans. Until the oceans were cleared, there was still no oxygen in the atmosphere.

But I find the thread title oddly circular.Consider

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30-04-2013, 09:27 AM
RE: Did life save this planet?
What I mean by the thread title is, without plants to "use up" CO2, would Earth, even though we are in the "Goldilocks" zone, become another Venus?

It's not the creation of oxygen that's important, it's the using up of CO2. CO2 causes a greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is important because it's one of those things that occurs exponentially, the more you have the faster it occurs.
So what I'm getting at is, did stromatolites come on to the scene at the right time? Did land plants mass grow at the right time?
That being a certain window of opportunity which has the right conditions for plants to grow and effect, and perhaps reverse, the effects of the greenhouse effect where in on one end you don't have any plant growth and on the other end of the time frame scale it's too late to reverse the effects of global warming.

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30-04-2013, 09:50 AM (This post was last modified: 30-04-2013 09:53 AM by Logica Humano.)
RE: Did life save this planet?
Actually, the Earth's strong magnetosphere is. The phenomenon you're describing would have been stripped away by thousands of years of solar flares had it not been for our planet's unique magnetic predicament. The lack of a magnetosphere is why our other favorite planet, Mars, was unable to sustain life.

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01-05-2013, 11:06 PM
RE: Did life save this planet?
I'm not saying it's not, I'm saying that yes the magnetic field around our planet helped us, but so did plant life.

My whole overall point is that I've been thinking about life, and not just microscopic life but proper intelligent life and not just mind of a 2year old intelligent but today human (well, that may be a bad example. Today scientist might be a better example) intelligent.
And what it takes for that level of intelligence to occur.

I know given the number of stars that scientists say the probability of life is high, and I would agree, but what I disagree with is the probability of intelligent life. Given what it took to create humans how can we say that it is a relatively common occurrence??

For us to come into existence:
- A planet formed in the Goldilocks zone.
- That planet formed a metal core creating a significant magnetic field.
- That planet formed in a "stable" solar system. (ie: One that is not colliding with another one)
- Large planets did not form close to this planet as to tear it apart.
- A large planet did form at a safe distance that acts as an asteroid shield.
- The star is a good size and at a good place in its life cycle.
- A large moon was formed.
- This planet formed with water but also had land.
- This planets atmosphere allowed for early plant life (aka, co2 rich).
- These plants turned co2 into oxygen (which is a better fuel and allows creatures to develop larger then several cells.)
- CO2 was converted into oxygen at a rate that halted global warming.
- Oxygen levels rose to a point that allowed animals to increase in size.
- Dinosaurs were killed off an asteroid which allowed mammals to survive and then thrive. (Important because reptiles are cold blooded)

All the while this planet was not hit with an earth-destroying asteroid, it's volcanic activity is manageable and our sun hasn't exploded.

All this and all we get is animals with hardly the intelligence of a 2year old.
To get from monkey to human is another great leap requiring specific things to occur.
- Grass needs to form as to make moneys come down from trees and walk on two legs. Walking on two legs saves energy which allows for that energy to be used to grow a larger brain.
- Silicon needs to be available because it's soft and can be chipped away by a harder rock to form crude tools which allows for more efficient.. everything. This saves energy allowing for greater brain development.
- Fire needs to be controllable because cooked food lets out more energy then uncooked food and is easier to digest, greatly enhancing brain development.
- You need more grass to have evolved. And you need to have a big enough brain (so all the previous steps) to understand how to control that grass as to grow crops. All the grains are part of the grass family. Bamboo, sugarcane, reeds and other things, all part of the grass family. Rice, corn, wheat etc... This is important because the space required to keep 1 hunter alive is very large, where as if you are a farmer you require very little space to produce enough food for the year (comparatively).
This is why places like Egypt were first to develop.
- Once you have farming down pact you have formed little towns and shit, greatly increasing brain capacity as well as being able to do other things like pottery etc.. You need horses and other domesticated animals. So you need for domesticated animals to have evolved with humans. These animals allow you to plow fields etc.. creating more food, larger towns etc... They also allow you to travel distances faster allowing contact with other towns allowing the spread of ideas etc... etc...

I think I've gone waaaaaaaay off topic? I can't even remember what I was getting at.
Meh, I'm gonna go get some Chinese food, I'm hungry.

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01-05-2013, 11:15 PM
RE: Did life save this planet?
Cyanobacteria in the oceans converted the o2 to useable form, not stromatolites.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/articl...atmosphere

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Yeah, for verily I say unto thee, and this we know : Jebus no likey that which doth tickle thee unto thy nether regions.

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01-05-2013, 11:15 PM
RE: Did life save this planet?
muffs, you high?

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01-05-2013, 11:23 PM
RE: Did life save this planet?
(01-05-2013 11:15 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Cyanobacteria in the oceans converted the o2 to useable form, not stromatolites.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/articl...atmosphere

Stromatolites, cyanobacteria, the point still stands.


And no, I am not high.

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02-05-2013, 05:49 AM
RE: Did life save this planet?
Save the planet from what? Or for what?

Life saved the planet from being lifeless? Life saved the planet for life?

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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