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A reflection on climate change from a perspective of 2 billion years

Alasdair Skelton, Professor of Geochemistry and Petrology at Stockholm University, reflects on climate change from a perspective of 2 billion years.

In this short video which was filmed on location at Södra Sandvik on Utö in the Stockholm Archipelago, we explore field evidence of how Sweden emerged from the sea and how oxygen produced by microbial life contributed to transforming Earth’s atmosphere sets the stage for the rise of complex life.

We see evidence of the transformation of soluble (ferrous) iron (Fe2+) to insoluble (ferric) iron (Fe3+) in the rocks. This was probably aided by microbial production of oxygen, albeit a few hundred million years after oxygenation began. The video concludes with a short reflection on the eerie parallel between how early life changed Earth’s atmosphere (arguably for the better) and how humans are now changing Earth’s atmosphere (for the worse) by burning fossil fuels. The former contributed to the rise of life on Earth while the latter could lead to its demise.

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Climate and Energy: An Interdisciplinary Perspective

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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