Coral Reef Climate Control

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Coral reef climate control reported in New Scientist, 5 Feb 2005, p17. Coral reefs may be able to create clouds when they get too hot. A team of scientists led by Graham Jones of Southern Cross University (Australia) have found that corals produce large amounts of a chemical named dimethyl sulphide (DMS). When this is released into the air it forms aerosols that can condense water vapour into clouds. Jones and his team think that coral reefs may have evolved a "Gaia-like feedback mechanism" that regulates the amount of sunlight shining onto the reef. This appears to be backed up by laboratory experiments on corals that showed they produced more DMS when the symbiotic bacteria that live in corals were exposed to high temperatures or strong UV light. Marine algae also produce DMS and scientists have been looking for evidence that they may be able to produce the same cloud seeding effect that would modify global warming. As coral reefs are easier to study than free-floating algae, because they stay in one place, they "would be a great place to show Gaia in action", says Jones.

Editorial comment: Gaia is the name of a Greek goddess. The Gaia hypothesis is a popular idea that the earth can be considered a living organism that looks after itself. However, the kind of "feedback mechanism" described in this study is really evidence of a feature that had to be in existence before anything went wrong, or the planet wouldn't survive at all. Therefore it is evidence of a transcendent Creator who designed living things to interact with their environment in a sustainable way. Creation Research is often told that you cannot mix science and religion, so I guess the increasing popularity of Gaia means we can forget that - eh? (Ref, ecology, weather, environment)

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