The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed Earth's History
Plants have profoundly moulded the Earth's climate and the evolutionary trajectory of life. Far from being 'silent witnesses to the passage of time', plants are dynamic components of our world, shaping the environment throughout history as much as that environment has shaped them.
In The Emerald Planet, David Beerling puts plants centre stage, revealing the crucial role they have played in driving global changes in the environment, in recording hidden facets of Earth's history, and in helping us to predict its future. His account draws together evidence from fossil plants, from experiments with their living counterparts, and from computer models of the 'Earth System', to illuminate the history of our planet and its biodiversity. This new approach reveals how plummeting carbon dioxide levels removed a barrier to the evolution of the leaf; how plants played a starring role in pushing oxygen levels upwards, allowing spectacular giant insects to thrive in the Carboniferous; and it strengthens fascinating and contentious fossil evidence for an ancient hole in the ozone layer. Along the way, Beerling introduces a lively cast of pioneering scientists from Victorian times onwards whose discoveries provided the crucial background to these and the other puzzles.
This understanding of our planet's past sheds a sobering light on our own climate-changing activities, and offers clues to what our climatic and ecological futures might look like. There could be no more important time to take a close look at plants, and to understand the history of the world through the stories they tell.
Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
Leaves genes and greenhouse gases
Oxygen and the lost world of giants
An ancient ozone catastrophe?
Global warming ushers in the dinosaur era
The flourishing forests of Antarctica
Other editions - View all
American ancient animals Antarctic Antarctica Arctic atmospheric carbon dioxide atmospheric oxygen Beerling Berner Biology carbon cycle carbon dioxide carbon dioxide content carbon dioxide levels Carboniferous century Chapter chemical chemistry climate change Cooksonia Cretaceous cycle deciduous deciduous trees dinosaurs discovery Earth history ecological ecosystems effect end-Permian environmental Eocene eruptions evergreen evidence evolution evolutionary feedback fire floras fossil plants fossil record genes genetic geological Geophysical Research global dimming global warming grasses grasslands greenhouse gases heat idea impact impact crater isotope Journal Kamen land plants latitudes leaf leaves London marine mass extinction methane million years ago models modern molecular mutations Nature nitrogen oceans oxide oxygen oxygen content oxygen levels ozone layer Permian Phanerozoic photosynthesis Plate polar forests produced radiation released revealed rocks Rubisco Science scientific scientists Scott sediments Siberian Siberian Traps soils species stomatal stratosphere sulfur sunlight surface temperatures terrestrial tion Triassic Triassic–Jurassic boundary tropical ultraviolet vegetation volcanic