There is concern that the build-up of greenhouse gasses (GHG) in the atmosphere may have significant environmental impacts. Despite voluntary reductions and various international initiatives, such as the Kyoto Protocol, the worldwide emissions of GHG continue to rise. For example, the 1997 emissions of GHG in the United States were more than 11% greater than the 1990 levels. By 2010, the GHG emissions of the United States may be more than 20% higher.

The authors of this paper suggest there may be forces beyond human control compelling human society to contribute to the greenhouse effect. The authors suggest the release of the GHG, particularly carbon dioxide, to the atmosphere may be caused by the operation of the Gaia hypothesis. The Gaia hypothesis, developed by Lovelock and Margulis in the 1970s, theorized that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system to maintain conditions on the surface of the planet within certain environmental limits.

The Recent atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are believed to be significantly lower than the levels that existed over geologic time. The carbon dioxide levels predicted by the year 2100 by some modelers will approach the atmospheric concentrations of this gas that have been estimated for the Carboniferous Period. The year 2100 levels would still be between nine and 18 times lower than carbon dioxide concentrations that have been estimated for the Paleozoic Era. Conversely, if the carbon dioxide concentrations were to continue to drop, as has been the trend since the Paleozoic, the levels may be insufficient to support photosynthesis.

Previous researchers have suggested that, operating under the Gaia hypothesis, the biosphere and the terrestrial environment may act to moderate the impacts arising from the greenhouse effect. The authors of this paper suggest that the functioning of the Gaian forces may actually be driving the human species to contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Human activities may be fulfilling a need of the biosphere by releasing buried carbon reserves to the environment. This reclamation of the buried carbon reserves may ensure that biological productivity is maintained, and increased, over time. If so, greenhouse control measures should focus on measures that accelerate the removal of carbon dioxide by the biosphere, sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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