Environmental conditions at the Earth’s surface have been continuously suitable for life for more than three billion years. Temperatures, for example, have only varied by few tens of centigrade despite large changes in solar luminosity and atmospheric composition. Since the Archean, the planet has not once been rendered sterile. However, the reasons for this long-term life-friendliness remain contentious. How has Earth’s climate avoided the runaway warming shown on Venus or the runaway cooling of Mars? Has Earth’s relative stability resulted from geochemical feedback (e.g. through silicate weathering), the stabilizing influence of a complex biosphere (i.e. the Gaia hypothesis), good luck (e.g. purely fortuitious cancellation of solar warming by decreased greenhouse gas concentrations) or is long-term life-friendliness simply the consequence of life’s extraordinary adaptability (allowing it to survive even Snowball Earth events)?
This conference, held on the 11th November 2015 at the Geological Society, Burlington House, will bring together proponents of these various views in an attempt to forge a consensus on how to move the debate forward. This debate will be informed by data relating to the latest understanding of silicate weathering, Neoproterozoic ice ages, and the environmental history of Earth.
This meeting would be suitable for anyone interested in the long-term habitability of the Earth, its long-term climate history, geo-biochemical cycles, the highly controversial Gaia hypothesis or the likelihood of habitable worlds beyond the solar system.
Keynote speakers include:
Professor Tim Lenton (University of Exeter)
Professor Toby Tyrrell (University of Southampton)
A draft programme is now available. This will be updated regularly as amendments are made.
Call for Posters:
We welcome poster contributions for this meeting.
If you would like us to consider your poster for presentation at this meeting, please send an abstract at least 400 words to Jess Aries no later than Friday, 11 September 2015.
For more information, please visit the webpage.