The Emergence of Humans as Geobiological Agents

Mar 16, 2016

Over its ~4 billion year history, life has co-evolved with the chemistry of Earth’s surface. This rich and complex dialogue was punctuated by a few major biological events, so-called revolutions, that dramatically and forever altered the chemistry of the oceans, continents, and atmosphere. These revolutions fundamentally reorganized the nature and activity of almost all life on Earth. Fast-forward a few billion years and we find the earth in the midst of another biological revolution, this one catalyzed by human invention. The human revolution is shaping fluxes of matter and energy at global scales in patterns reminiscent of past revolutions, yet the outcome and our path to the future remains uncertain. Dr. Crowe will describe new insight on key events in Earth’s history that ultimately led to the emergence of humans as geobiological agents.

Originally a chemist, Dr. Crowe’s research now takes place at the interface between chemistry, geology, and biology. His research fills gaps in our knowledge of the Earth system allowing more robust reconstructions of the history of the Earth and life as well as better predictions of future scenarios and the response of the Earth system to human activity. As a Wall scholar, he will be working to develop quantitative models that link geochemical processes to biological information flow and evolution, exploring the impact of new geobiological knowledge on modern worldviews, developing new outreach platforms for geobiological research; and strengthening capacity building activities though geobiological studies in the developing world.