From: Anil Ananthaswamy, NewScientist
Published July 2, 2009 12:06 PM

Plant life saved Earth from an icy fate

Besides the obvious benefits they bring, it looks like we owe our very existence to plants, which helped prevent the Earth from freezing over during the past 25 million years.

About 50 million years ago, Earth was a hothouse —: the poles were ice free, and crocodiles lived in the Arctic. Then, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere started dropping from around 1000-1500 parts per million (ppm), and the Earth began to cool.

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By about 24 million years ago, the uplift of the Himalayan and Andes mountain ranges led to large-scale weathering of rocks, a process that removes massive amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. This reduced the greenhouse effect and cooled the planet.

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