Why birds can fly over Mount Everest?
Mon Oct 25, 2021 · 211 words

Walter Murch’s Letter to His Grandchildren About Earth’s History is an entertaining story of our Earth that touches on birds, dinosaurs, plants, evolution, humans and eventually fossil fuels.

Here are my 11 takeaways:

  1. Birds inherited super efficient lungs from dinosaurs. But why?
  2. The story starts with plants migrating from ocean to land and then needing to deal with gravity.
  3. Land plants evolved lignin to address gravity.
  4. During this Carboniferous age, lignin couldn’t be decomposed.
  5. So the decay of lignin (hydrocarbons) produced an oxygen surge.
  6. Eventually, a mushroom spore evolved a special enzyme that could dissolve lignin.
  7. Oxidizing lignin used up a lot of oxygen and killed 95% of life on Earth.
  8. Dinosaurs (probably the predecessors to dinosaurs) evolved super efficient lung systems to compensate for the reduced oxygen.
  9. Millions of years later, humans found burning fossilized lignin releases lots of energy.
  10. Humans have fossil fuels due to nature’s inability to breakdown lignin.
  11. Humans are burning fossil fuels 500,000X faster than they were deposited.

The lack of the mushroom spore with the special enzyme and fossil fuels being the result of an inability to breakdown lignin is interesting. However, it still appears to be up for debate.

Leave a comment on Twitter.

See also

  1. Zanny Minton Beddoes interviews Bill Gates about COVID-19

back · writing · about ray · resume · contact · home