Thursday, January 07, 2016

Terraforming Earth

Stromatolites producing oxygen, rusting away the iron in the oceans before clearing up the atmosphere of carbon dioxide.[1]

This is a story that gives new meaning to "The Little Engine That Could" in a profound way.

One source explains:
If you could build a time machine and go back to Earth's distant past, you'd get a nasty surprise. You wouldn't be able to breathe the air. Unless you had some breathing apparatus, you would asphyxiate within minutes. For the first half of our planet's history, there was no oxygen in the atmosphere. This life-giving gas only started to appear about 2.4 billion years ago.[1]
In what is called the "Great Oxidation Event," something very little appeared that started making the earth habitable for us through photosynthesis. What happened? This:

Cyanobacteria is responsible for terraforming earth, transforming it from an iron-rich water world with a choking, impenetrable carbon-dioxide atmosphere to one with blue water and a clear oxygenated atmosphere. They also enlarged the coastlines of the nascent continents, called cratons, with their accretions (called stromatolites and thrombolites). It took these little guys millions of years to accomplish this! Additionally, one type of cyanobacteria, Spirulina, is very nutritious for human consumption. Where did cyanobacteria come from, being able to terraform a planet and provide humanity with nutrition? Humanity's best friend from the Creator.

[1] The Event that Transformed Earth

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