Gaia - Planetary Perspectives

What Doesn’t Kill Gaia Makes Her Stronger

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
May 10, 2024
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What Doesn’t Kill Gaia Makes Her Stronger
Earth — NASA

Life on Earth has experienced numerous upheavals over its approximately 4 billion year history. In previous work we have discussed how interruptions to stability lead, on average, to increases in habitability over time, a tendency we called Entropic Gaia.

Here we continue this exploration, working with the Tangled Nature Model of co-evolution, to understand how the evolutionary history of life is shaped by periods of acute environmental stress. We find that while these periods of stress pose a risk of complete extinction, they also create opportunities for evolutionary exploration which would otherwise be impossible, leading to more populous and stable states among the survivors than in alternative histories without a stress period.

We also study how the duration, repetition and number of refugia into which life escapes during the perturbation affects the final outcome. The model results are discussed in relation to both Earth history and the search for alien life.

Rudy Arthur, Arwen E. Nicholson, Nathan J. Mayne

Comments: 12 pages, 7 figures
Subjects: Populations and Evolution (q-bio.PE); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Popular Physics (physics.pop-ph)
Cite as: arXiv:2405.05091 [q-bio.PE] (or arXiv:2405.05091v1 [q-bio.PE] for this version)
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Submission history
From: Rudy Arthur
[v1] Wed, 8 May 2024 14:40:45 UTC (945 KB)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻