The key insight of Gaia Theory is that the entire Earth functions as a single living super-organism. But according to James Lovelock, the theory's originator, that organism is now sick. It is running a fever born of increased atmospheric greenhouse gases. Earth will adjust to these stresses, but the human race faces a severe test. It is already too late, Lovelock says, to prevent the global climate from “flipping” into an entirely new equilibrium that will threaten civilization as we know it. But we can do much to save humanity. In the tradition of Silent Spring, this is a call to address a major threat to our collective future.
James Lovelock described his previous book, The Revenge of Gaia, as 'a wake-up call for humanity'. Stark though it was in many respects, in The Vanishing Face of Gaia Lovelock says that even though the weather seems cooler and pollution lessens as the recession bites, the environmental problems we will face in the twenty-first century are even more terrifying than he previously realised. The Arctic and Antarctic ice-caps are melting very quickly, and water shortages and natural disasters are more common occurrences than at any time in recent history. The civilisations of many countries will be jeopardised and life as we know it severely disrupted. Almost all predictions of the likely rate of climate change have been based on estimates which professional observers in the real worldnow show are consistently underestimating the true rate of change. As a global community we continue to be fixated by conventional 'green' ideas which we believe will help save our world. Lovelock argues that only Gaia theory, which he originated over forty years ago, can really help us understand the crisis fully. The root problem is that there are too many people and animals for the Earth to carry. And there is in fact only one possible procedure which might bring a permanent cure for climate change, but we are unlikely to adopt it. 'Our wish to continue business as usual will probably prevent us from saving ourselves' says Lovelock, so we must adapt as best we can and try to ensure that enough of us survive to allow a more capable species to evolve from us. There could hardly be a more important message for humankind. James Lovelock has been an active and accurate observer of the Earth environment since the 1960s and was the first to find CFCs and other gases accumulating in the air. His Gaia theory provides insight into climate change in the coming century.This is his final warning.
James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis and the greatest environmental thinker of our time, has produced an astounding new theory about future of life on Earth. He argues that the anthropocene - the age in which humans acquired planetary-scale technologies - is, after 300 years, coming to an end. A new age - the novacene - has already begun. New beings will emerge from existing artificial intelligence systems. They will think 10,000 times faster than we do and they will regard us as we now regard plants - as desperately slow acting and thinking creatures. But this will not be the cruel, violent machine takeover of the planet imagined by sci-fi writers and film-makers. These hyper-intelligent beings will be as dependent on the health of the planet as we are. They will need the planetary cooling system of Gaia to defend them from the increasing heat of the sun as much as we do. And Gaia depends on organic life. We will be partners in this project. It is crucial, Lovelock argues, that the intelligence of Earth survives and prospers. He does not think there are intelligent aliens, so we are the only beings capable of understanding the cosmos. Maybe, he speculates, the novacene could even be the beginning of a process that will finally lead to intelligence suffusing the entire cosmos. At the age 100, James Lovelock has produced the most important and compelling work of his life.
Now in his 95th year, James Lovelock has been hailed as “the man who conceived the first wholly new way of looking at life on earth since Charles Darwin†? (Independent) and “the most profound scientific thinker of our time†? (Literary Review). Â A Rough Ride to the Future introduces two new Lovelockian ideas. The first is that three hundred years ago, when Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine, he was unknowingly beginning what Lovelock calls “accelerated evolution,†? a process that is bringing about change on our planet roughly a million times faster than Darwinian evolution. The second is that as part of this process, humanity has the capacity to become the intelligent part of Gaia, the self-regulating earth system whose discovery Lovelock first announced nearly fifty years ago. Â A Rough Ride to the Future is also an intellectual autobiography, in which Lovelock reflects on his life as a lone scientist, and asks—eloquently—whether his career trajectory is possible in an age of increased bureaucratization. Â We are now changing the atmosphere again, and Lovelock argues that there is little that can be done about this. But instead of feeling guilty, we should recognize what is happening, prepare for change, and ensure that we survive as a species so we can contribute to—perhaps even guide—the next evolution of Gaia. The road will be rough, but if we are smart enough, life will continue on earth in some form far into the future.
A new edition in the year of James Lovelock's 100th birthday With over fifty patents to his name and innumerable awards and accolades, James Lovelock is a distinguished and original thinker who has been widely recognized by the international scientific community. In this inspiring book, republished in the year of his 100th birthday, Lovelock tells his life story, from his first steps as a scientist to his work with organisations as diverse as NASA, Shell and the Marine Biological Association. Homage to Gaia describes the years of travel and work that led to his crucial scientific breakthroughs in environmental awareness, uncovering how CFCs impact on the ozone layer and creating the concept of Gaia, the theory that the Earth is a self-regulating system. Written in a sharp and energetic style, James Lovelock's book will entertain and inspire anyone interested in science or the creative spirit.
Feared and admired in equal measure, Mary Midgley has carefully yet profoundly challenged many of the scientific and moral orthodoxies of the twentieth century. The Essential Mary Midgley collects for the first time the very best of this famous philosopher's work, described by the Financial Times as 'common sense philosophy of the highest order'. This unrivalled introduction to a great philosopher and brilliant writer incorporates carefully selected excerpts from Mary Midgley's bestselling books, including Wickedness, Beast and Man, Science and Poetry, and The Myths We Live By. With a specially written foreword by James Lovelock, this classic text presents a superb and eminently readable insight into questions she has returned to time and again in her renowned sharp prose. This anthology discusses major topics, such as the roots of human nature, reason and imagination, the myths of science and the importance of holism in thinking about science and the environment.
Gaia: A New Look At Life on Earth may continue to divide opinion, but nobody can deny that the book offers a powerful insight into the creative thinking of its author, James E. Lovelock. Published in 1979, Gaia offered a radically new hypothesis: the Earth, Lovelock argued, is a living entity. Together, the planet and all its separate living organisms form a single self-regulating body, sustaining life and helping it evolve through time. Lovelock sees humans as no more special than other elements of the planet, railing against the once widely-held belief that the good of mankind is the only thing that matters. Despite being seen as radical, and even idiotic on its publication, a version of Lovelock's viewpoint has found resonance in contemporary debates about the environment and climate, and has now broadly come to be accepted by modern thinkers. As man's effects on the climate become increasingly extreme, more and more elements of the Earth's self-regulation seem to be unveiled - forcing scientists to ask how far the planet might be able to go in order self-regulate effectively. Indeed, despite its far-fetched elements, Lovelock's Gaia thesis seems to ring more convincingly today than ever before; that it does is largely a result of the critical thinking skills that allowed Lovelock to produce novel explanations for existing evidence and, above all, to connect existing fragments of evidence together in new ways.
Release on 2009-10-16 | by Eileen Crist,H. Bruce Rinker,Bill McKibben
Climate Change, Biodepletion, and Earth Ethics in an Age of Crisis
Author: Eileen Crist,H. Bruce Rinker,Bill McKibben
Pubpsher: MIT Press
Gaian theory, which holds that Earth's physical and biological processes are inextricably bound to form a self-regulating system, is more relevant than ever in light of increasing concerns about global climate change. The Gaian paradigm of Earth as a living system, first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, has inspired a burgeoning body of researchers working across disciplines that range from physics and biology to philosophy and politics. Gaia in Turmoil reflects this disciplinary richness and intellectual diversity, with contributions (including essays by both Lovelock and Margulis) that approach the topic from a wide variety of perspectives, discussing not only Gaian science but also global environmental problems and Gaian ethics and education.Contributors focus first on the science of Gaia, considering such topics as the workings of the biosphere, the planet's water supply, and evolution; then discuss Gaian perspectives on global environmental change, including biodiversity destruction and global warming; and finally explore the influence of Gaia on environmental policy, ethics, politics, technology, economics, and education. Gaia in Turmoil breaks new ground by focusing on global ecological problems from the perspectives of Gaian science and knowledge, focusing especially on the challenges of climate change and biodiversity destruction. Contributors: David Abram, Donald Aitken, Connie Barlow, J. Baird Callicott, Bruce Clarke, Eileen Crist, Tim Foresman, Stephan Harding, Barbara Harwood, Tim Lenton, Eugene Linden, Karen Litfin, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, Bill McKibben, Martin Ogle, H. Bruce Rinker, Mitchell Thomashow, Tyler Volk, Hywel Williams