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The Gaia hypothesis suggests that homeostatic mechanisms exist which tend to prevent gross change in surface planetary conditions. The evidence of the geological records is somewhat equivocal on this point, since it shows both evidence for stability and evidence for conditions which differ significantly from those experience today. The purpose of this paper is to consider the mechanisms involving CO(2) which may be significant on various geological timescales, and to consider how these might relate to the geological evidence of past surface conditions.
There is evidence that large fluctuations in atmospheric carbon dioxide have occurred in the past. In order to predict even the broad outline of this adjustment, it is necessary to consider the behaviour of CO(2) in the atmosphere, the oceans, the sediments and in the deep lithosphere. The ultimate adjustment of the system to anthropogenic inputs of fossil fuel carbon will take many tens of thousands of years, and the time constants of this process cannot be predicted with accuracy at the present state of knowledge. However, it is possible to draw inferences from what is known, and the conclusions have relevance to discussion of the question of disposal of carbon dioxide within the natural system.

Additional information

Authors: MURRAY C N, JRC Ispra (IT);WILSON T R S, University of Liverpool, Laboratory of Oceanography (GB)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: ICCDR-3, Cambridge (US), September 9-11, 1996
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 40036 ORA
Record Number: 199611054 / Last updated on: 1996-09-30
Original language: en
Available languages: en