In attacking the Shuswap Market News’ refreshing column Gaia Gardening,” David Riley (“Column about trees goes off base,” Mar. 14, 2014) is actually who’s off base – literally off the scientific reality base altogether.
A hodge-podge of uninformed, unsupported assertions and rhetoric careen through this letter, contributing little to our awareness of how evolutionary processes drive the natural selection of tree-adaptation over millions of years. Indeed, millions of years and processes of evolution itself, are obviously Mr. Riley’s downfall. He baldly asserts: “…evolutionary beliefs pose many questions and unsolvable problems.”
What questions? What problems?
He states further: – “The whole evolutionary long age development scenario is a farce, a myth, the great new age fairy tale.”
Grounds for this emotional outburst? None to be found in Mr. Riley’s letter.
“How do you know what the climate was 250 million years ago, or since then?” he laments.
Geoscience, paleoclimatology, paleontology (fossil-study) and palynology (pollen analysis) have long provided comprehensive details of past climates.
Countering misunderstanding on this scale, and clarifying for Mr. Riley, the universal, scientifically-accepted role of evolutionary processes in producing this amazing world of nature we know today, would easily require an entire issue of the Shuswap Market News.
“Where did the parent tropical trees come from?”
Using the slow radioactive decay rates of uranium isotopes, the age of the Earth has been established as 4.55 billion years old, and fossil microrganisms have been dated at 3.55 billion years old. The origin of trees begins with evolution of the plant world, 2.5 billion years ago, when photosynthesis radically transformed the Earth’s primitive, oxygen-free atmosphere to an oxygenated one, allowing land life to flourish and evolve. The evolution of ‘vascular plants,’ with fluid-conducting tubules led, 420 million years ago to the beginning of an extensive distribution of upright plants in terrestrial environments – such as trees like: ginkgos, cycads, metasequoias, araucarieas and wollemi pines.
Explanations of Earth’s magnificent natural phenomena and events unfolding over billions of years, have been successfully achieved by evolutionary science. In the process, the intricate beauty of the Earth, our home, is made even more meaningful by knowing its true, evolved character.
Reasoned debate on this science is healthy and welcome; emotion-based criticism – lacking evidence – is without merit.
Thos. J. Crowley,
Professor of biology and chemistry (emeritus), Okanagan University College