Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Revenge of Gaia

Gaia is an evolutionary system in which any species,
including humans, that persists with changes to
the environment that lessen the survival of its
progeny is doomed to extinction.
We have in a sense stumbled into a war with
Gaia, a war that we have no hope of winning.
All that we can do is make peace while we are
still strong and not a broken rabble.
Chances are that, when it comes to global warming, you're more familiar with names like George Monbiot than that of James Lovelock.
Lovelock is a classic British boffin. He's a brilliant old man with a refreshingly young mind that seamlessly blends abject pessimism with inspirational optimism through the application of a lifetime of science and rigorous logic.
Long before word of global warming filtered down to any of us, Lovelock originated the "Gaia Hypothesis." Put simply, and probably somewhat inaccurately, it pictures the earth as a living thing. It's not that Lovelock has fanciful notions that rocks and water and air are animate. What he does contend is that the earth acts as though it were animate, a living thing. It self-regulates its biosphere and, when it gets sick, it gets a fever.
The Gaia Theory took a long time to gain the acceptance of the scientific community. At first about a third of it was accepted, the rest considered too futuristic and unproven. Year by year the balance of it was borne out by events. It's still a theory but one that now has the backing of consensus.
The theory isn't just about global warming (or "global heating" in Lovelock's words) but about the overall impact of humanity on the biosphere and what we must do about it.
"The Revenge of Gaia" is a genuinely worthwhile read. Check it out.

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