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Gaia Hypothesis

4 Pages 921 Words

Explain Lovelock’s “Gaia Hypothesis.” Be sure to include the concept of symbiosis
or mutualism. What role do human beings play in this hypothesis?

The Gaia Hypothesis is the theory that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shape Earth's biosphere, in Lynn Margulis's words, a "super organismic system". The earth is a self-regulating environment; a single, unified, cooperating and living system - a super organism that regulates physical conditions to keep the environment hospitable for life evolution therefore is the result of cooperative not competitive processes.
In the mid-1960's, Dr James Lovelock was approached by the NASA, who asked him for help in searching for life on Mars. In 1965, Lovelock proposed some physical tests for determining whether Mars held life or not. He proposed that a top-down view of the entire planet be employed. The test would analyze the composition of the planet's atmosphere. If it held no life, the planet should have an atmosphere close to the chemical equilibrium state, as determined by chemistry and physics. If the planet held life, the metabolic activities of life forms would result in an atmosphere far from the equilibrium state.
Lovelock examined the atmospheric data for the Martian atmosphere and found it to be in a state of stable chemical equilibrium, while the Earth was shown to be in a state of extreme chemical disequilibrium. He concluded that Mars was probably lifeless.
In that same year, Lovelock began to think that such an unlikely combination of gases such as the Earth had, indicated a homeostatic of the Earth biosphere to maintain environmental conditions conducive for life, in a sort of cybernetic feedback loop, an active control system. By the end of the 1960's, Lovelock had definitively organized his theory. The novelist William Golding, Lovelock's neighbor, suggested he call the control system Gaia, after the ancient Greek Earth Godd...

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