250 Years of Industrial Consumption and Transformation of Nature: Impacts on Global Ecosystems and Life

250 Years of Industrial Consumption and Transformation of Nature: Impacts on Global Ecosystems and Life

Anthropogenic changes in the environment, caused by 250 years of economic growth and utilization of fuel and mineral resources, have considerably impacted the natural environment. The resulting ...
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Ecosystem Transformations - Natural and Anthropogenic Forcings

Pp. 1-20 (20)

Hubert Engelbrecht

Abstract

The evolution of ecosystems and life embedded in the spheres of Earth, as well as the theoretical background - entropic dissipation of energy and matter causing rising complexity - is outlined. This is followed by a description of how natural - terrestrial and extra-terrestrial - forcings (e.g. discrete volcanic eruptions, large igneous provinces, silicate weathering, continental drift, albedo, bioevolution; Milankovitch cycles, solar irradiance, galactic tides, impactors, gamma ray bursts) changed the ecosystems in the geological past and how life adapted to and transformed these ecosystems. Examples for the latter case are the Precambrian Great Oxygenation Event, the colonization of continents by plants since the Silurian and the spread of mammals since the early Tertiary. Brain growth, the invention of tools, the controlled use of fire, cooking, and creative organization of niches enabled hominines to escape natural habitats to innumerable artificial habitats. The didactic value of fossilized remnants of geological climate indicators and of ecosystem changes (preserved in geotopes) is emphasized.

Affiliation:

Environmental Geology, Munich, Germany.