Natural selection, Gaia, and inadvertent by-products: A reply to Lenton and Wilkinson's response

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Lenton and Wilkinson (2003), in response to me (Volk, 2002), have offered a number of important ideas for a Gaia theory of 'regulatory feedbacks' between life and the global environment. After what are generally positive comments on a selection of their concepts, I focus my reply on one specific point of disagreement. Contrary to the claim of Lenton and Wilkinson, nitrogen fixation is merely another example of how a by-product affects the shared environment among organisms. For Gaia theory to properly incorporate evolution by natural selection, we must distinguish between life's products and by-products. Because organisms evolve in environments altered by these by-products, I continue to support the idea that feedback loops in the biosphere contain segments based solely upon by-products of organisms' metabolisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalClimatic Change
Volume58
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science

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