Gaia's Body: Toward a Physiology of Earth

Gaia's Body: Toward a Physiology of Earth

by Tyler Volk
Pub. Date:
DIANE Publishing Company

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Gaia's Body: Toward a Physiology of Earth

Gaia, the largest entity in the nested systems of life on Earth, is surely not an organism, but it nevertheless shows a kind of physiology with fascinating internal dynamics. But this statement implies physiologic functions, chemical cycles, perhaps even feedback loops that have some role in homeostasis. What are these functions, how do we know they exist, and how do we learn about them?
This is the subject that Tyler Volk tackles brilliantly in Gaia's Body. A seamless, engagingly readable introduction to the budding new field of Earth physiology, Gaia's Body blends real science with evocative imagery in describing the system of life, soils and air we have termed the biosphere. Volk shows how every important chemical in the atmosphere is regulated by living processes; why strange, spaghetti-like bacteria off the coast of Peru have an intimate connection with the plants in your backyard; why "biochemical guilds" may be Earth's most important unit of life; and even how scientists have detected the "breathing" of the biosphere. He examines long-term trends in Earth's evolution (is Gaia growing colder? more complex?) and examines humanity's role in Gaia's past and future.
This groundbreaking work is sure to intrigue adherents and skeptics alike, as well as anyone who is curious about our living planet.

Tyler Volk is Associate Professor of Earth System Sciences at New York University and the author of Metapatterns: Across Space, Time, and Mind. He lives in New York and New Mexico.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756761776
Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
Publication date: 11/01/1998
Pages: 269
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

Table of Contents

Preface: Fantastic Voyagers

1. Breathing of the Biosphere
2. A Global Holarchy
3. Outer Light, Inner Fire
4. The Parts of Gaia
5. Worldwide Metabolisms
6. Embodied Energy
7. The Music of This Sphere
8, Gaia in Time


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