Advertisement

Climatic Change

, Volume 85, Issue 3–4, pp 259–266 | Cite as

Thermodynamics and environmental constraints make the biosphere predictable – a response to Volk

  • Axel KleidonEmail author
Article

Abstract

In his critique of Kleidon (Clim Change 66:271–319, 2004), Volk (Clim Change 85:3–4, 2007) concludes that maximum entropy production (MEP) has no great relevance for biological evolution and the time history of life on Earth. I think that most of his points are not justified but rather reflect (a) a lack of appreciation of the central importance of entropy production as the “universal currency” that measures what keeps systems working, including the biosphere, (b) a misunderstanding of how biotic activity is embedded in the global entropy budget, and (c) a lack of distinction between optimal environmental conditions that maximize productivity and result from environmental tradeoffs versus optimal function of organisms to some internal tradeoffs. The examples that he uses to support his conclusions show flaws in that these mostly discuss single environmental effects and immediate system responses. Optimal environmental conditions, however, requires at least two effects that result in a trade-off, so it is not surprising that his examples seem to contradict optimality and MEP. And the immediate response of a system to change can be very different than the response in steady state, for which MEP applies. This is specifically important to be considered in the context of the “cheater” problem. In summary, I do not think that Volk makes convincing arguments that contradict MEP, although I certainly agree that there is a lot more work to be done to fully recognize the great importance that thermodynamics and MEP play in shaping the Earth’s biosphere and its evolutionary history.

Keywords

Entropy Production Cloud Condensation Nucleus Vegetation Parameter Terrestrial Biosphere Biotic Activity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. IPCC (2001) Climate change 2001: the scientific basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  2. Kirchner JW (2002) The Gaia hypothesis: fact, theory, and wishful thinking. Clim Change 52:391–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Kirchner JW (2003) The Gaia hypothesis: conjectures and refutations. Clim Change 58:21–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Kleidon A (2002) Testing the effect of life on Earth’s functioning: how Gaian is the Earth system? Clim Change 66:271–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Kleidon A (2004) Beyond Gaia: thermodynamics of life and Earth system functioning. Clim Change 66:271–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kleidon A (2006) Quantifying the biologically possible range of steady-state soil and surface climates with climate model simulations. Biologia, Bratislava 61/Suppl. 19:S234–239Google Scholar
  7. Kleidon A, Fraedrich K, Heimann M (2000) A green planet versus a desert world: estimating the maximum effect of vegetation on land surface climate. Clim Change 44:471–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lenton TM (2002) Testing Gaia: the effect of life on Earth’s habitability and regulation. Clim Change 52:409–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lenton TM, Wilkinson DM (2003) Developing the Gaia theory. Clim Change 58:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lovelock JE (2003) Gaia and emergence – a response to Kirchner and Volk. Clim Change 57:1–3CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ozawa H, Ohmura A, Lorenz RD, Pujol T (2003) The second law of thermodynamics and the global climate system – a review of the maximum entropy production principle. Rev Geophys 41:1018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Schwartzman DW, Volk T (1989) Biotic enhancement of weathering and the habitability of Earth. Nature 340:457–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Shaw GE (1983) Bio-controlled thermostasis involving the sulfur cycle. Clim Change 5:297–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Volk T (2002) Towards a future for Gaia theory. Clim Change 52:423–430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Volk T (2003a) Natural selection, Gaia, and inadvertent by-products: a reply to Lenton and Wilkinson’s response. Clim Change 58:13–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Volk T (2003b) Seeing deeper into Gaia theory – a reply to Lovelocks response. Clim Change 57:5–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Volk T (2007) The properties of organisms are not tunable parameters selected because they create maximum entropy production on the biosphere scale: a by-product framework in response to Kleidon. Clim Change 85:3–4CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Zotin AI (1984) Bioenergetic trends of evolutionary progress of organisms. In: Lamprecht I, Zotin AI (eds) Thermodynamics and regulation of biological processes. de Gruyter, Berlin, New York, pp 451–458Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biospheric Theory and Modelling GroupMax-Planck-Institut für BiogeochemieJenaGermany

Personalised recommendations