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The Moon in the Nautilus ShellDiscordant Harmonies Reconsidered$
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Daniel Botkin

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199913916

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199913916.001.0001

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date: 17 September 2021

Within the Moose’s Stomach

Within the Moose’s Stomach

Nature as the Biosphere

(p.182) (p.183) 9 Within the Moose’s Stomach
The Moon in the Nautilus Shell

Daniel B. Botkin


This chapter examines the view that considers nature as a biosphere by focusing on the moose and their wilderness ecosystem at Isle Royale, an island of the Great Lakes, as well as their symbiotic relationship with bacteria. It first describes the moose's rumen as a miniature model of the biosphere before discussing some of the classic scientific arguments about the influence of life on the global environment. In particular, it looks at the views of Adam Sedgwick and Sir Charles Lyell. It then assesses the notion that life is an integral part of very long-term global geologic processes and explains how biological evolution has led to global changes in the environment. It also analyzes three schools of thought about a balance of nature at the global level: that the biosphere is in a steady state; that life acts as Earth's thermostat, requiring and creating constant conditions; and that the biosphere is always changing, and life is changing with it, beyond the ability of life to act as Earth's thermostat. The chapter concludes with some philosophical reflections about nature's hierarchies in space and time.

Keywords:   nature, biosphere, moose, Isle Royale, bacteria, Adam Sedgwick, Charles Lyell, biological evolution, balance of nature

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