Speculations in Science and Technology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 171–185 | Cite as

Palaeo-variations in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and the relationship to extinctions

  • D. S. Robertson


It has been established from geological studies that change in the atmospheric content of carbon dioxide gas commenced about one hundred million years ago. The likely origin of this change is advanced as being the onset of the Brewer circulation caused by the rise in terrain induced by tectonic plate movement. It is demonstrated that tectonic plate movement can be affected by impacts from external bodies which penetrate the crust of the Earth. The consequences of the change in atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide are proposed as first, extinctions and reductions in animal numbers, including primates, as a result of changes in body chemistry of these animals and second, a change in the rate of weathering of rocks giving rise to changes in the availability of chemicals such as calcium and potassium which are essential for plant and animal life. This latter change contributing to the extinctions and reductions in animal numbers. It is shown that the change in weathering can account for the rise to dominance of angiosperm plants. It is concluded that there were several simultaneous evolutionary environments on Earth which were a function of altitude which gave rise to a vertical variation in atmospheric content of carbon dioxide. This variation disappeared with rise of terrain and the onset of the Brewer circulation. Such changes are advanced and being much more important than any changes in temperature caused by greenhouse effects since the disappearance of atmospheric variations in carbon dioxide allowed animal migration. It is demonstrated that the conditions of extinction could be reintroduced by human activities.

Carbon dioxide crustal penetration by asteroid impact geochemical change extinction high terrain evolution 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. S. Robertson
    • 1
  1. 1.MALVERNWorcestershireEngland

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