Biosphere Earth — 4, Historical Wonder
This blog is part of a series on Biosphere Earth.
To review other posts, visit the Table Of Contents.
Here’s part 4:
So how did we get to “Biosphere Earth” and human beings on Earth?
It’s a pretty simple history, actually.
According to the science, Planet Earth is believed to be somewhere in the range of 4.5 to 5 billion years old. Biosphere Earth (purple, green, and blue bars above) is believed to be somewhere in the range of 4 billion years old.
Science will continue updating these numbers, making them more precise, but the current consensus gives us a clear historical picture, simply because it is so dramatic.
Microbial life began about four billion years ago on Earth in water and remained exclusively microbial for more than three billion years. (That’s the purple bar above.)
Perhaps it took +3 billion years for microbial life to become planetarily pervasive and evolve macro-life. Regardless, think of microbal life as “simple” life, the organisms that are too small to see; bacteria, viruses, etc.
Then about 600 million years ago Complex life began. (That’s the green bar above.) Think of “Complex life” as the macro life you are and you see all the time: plants, animals, insects.
And that’s most of the story.
Biosphere Earth as we know it is built on a microbial “sphere.” More precisely termed, our life-support system is built on a microbial superstructure. As mentioned in the first blog (Biosphere Earth — Terms & Conditions) microbes can apparently be found everywhere there is moisture on, above, and below the surface of the Earth.
Biosphere Earth’s microbial superstructure still today underpins our complex life biosphere’s continuation in multiple ways. Here are two pretty important examples. A) Individual organisms depend on microbial life to digest food and fight diseases. B) For the planetary biosphere, microbial life provides things like massive carbon absorption, decomposition of 100% of the world’s “dead” biological materials, and distribution of those biospherically-regenerative materials, such as carbon, for use by future life.
This grand interaction between the micro and macro began about 600 million years ago and continues today. There is no scientific explanation.
4 Billion years. 600 Million years.
It’s truly miraculous.
Then just 65 million years ago the modern biosphere, our biosphere — the one that nurtures human beings being, began to emerge — after the dinosaur extinction event.
Humanity finally showed up about 300,000 years ago, doubtlessly on the backs of the previous 4 billion years of life’s influence over Biosphere Earth’s composition.
Our chimp and ape relatives are a few million years older than us, our species only goes back about 300,000 years.
Like it or not, world, We are animals.
And our lives are built on top of 4-billion, 600-million, and 65-million year old microbial / vegetative / insect / animal superstructures. Self-building ecosystems.
More tomorrow, Thanks.
- All of the citations for the research referenced in this blog can be found in the most recent draft of my forthcoming paper, “Biosphere Earth = all GDPs + all lives.”
Read the previous blog: Architectural Wonder.