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Revolutions that made the Earth$
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Tim Lenton and Andrew Watson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587049

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587049.001.0001

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(p.387) 20 Review
Revolutions that made the Earth

Tim Lenton

Andrew Watson

Oxford University Press

This chapter endeavours to review the similarities between what is happening now and the past revolutions. There are several common features to the great revolutions that have made the present Earth. These can be broadly categorised as the main characteristics of change, and the features which must emerge for it to be ‘successful’ – in the sense that permanent change persists and includes a thriving biosphere. Two out of the three past revolutions have been underlain by a step change in information transmission between living organisms. An increase in the amount of information that can be passed on allows life to build more complex structures. Complex structures can, in turn, improve the information-transmission mechanisms, allowing more information to be passed on, so these two processes mutually reinforce one another.

Keywords:   past revolutions, characteristics of change, permanent change, information transmission, complex structures

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