James Lovelock (1919-) is a British scientist, author and environmentalist best known for his proposal of the Gaia hypothesis, where the Earth, itself, is seen as a self-regulating entity naturally inclined to sustain life.
In his own words, Gaia is
a complex entity involving the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.¹
This idea is both accepted and rejected by different scientists because science is not always monolithic, despite what politicians like Justin Trudeau and Kamala Harris – who in last night’s CNN Democratic Debate used the word ‘science’ like religious people use ‘church’ or ‘God’ – would have us believe.
The Gaia Hypothesis is also commonly mistaken for Lewis Thomas‘ speculation that the Earth, when viewed from space, resembles a single cell.
New Age enthusiasts should note that Lovelock is not explicitly saying the Earth as a whole is alive or ‘thinks’ as a total, integrated being.
Rather, the Gaia hypothesis speaks to all that is alive and not alive on our Earth, according to current scientific definitions about the difference between organic and inorganic material.²
The Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.³
Back when it wasn’t trendy to do so, Lovelock took some heat from environmentalists by advocating nuclear power as a way out of our current environmental crisis. Back then, the problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste rendered nuclear power environmentally and politically unattractive.
Today, however, climate change activists like the Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang believe nuclear power is a sensible option, provided we develop new nuclear strategies—for example, using thorium instead of uranium.4
As for Lovelock, he apparently believes our planet has staggered near the point of no return and unless we retreat from the idea of sustainable development, humanity will be severely distressed in the future.
Retreat, in his view, means it’s time to start talking about changing where we live and how we get our food… Most of all, he says, it’s about everybody “absolutely doing their utmost to sustain civilization, so that it doesn’t degenerate into Dark Ages, with warlords running things, which is a real danger. We could lose everything that way.5
Personally, I think this kind of attitude overlooks the possibility of genetic mutations along with our proven human resourcefulness which should enable us to develop, thrive and remain essentially decent well into the next few millennia.
¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis (as appearing during the last revision: 2011/01/24)
² Scientific definitions about life and non-life are challenged by some Asian philosophical systems suggesting that even so-called inorganic matter/energy possesses some kind of elemental, vibrational consciousness. But still, inorganic rocks do not reproduce to create baby rocks. They may break up, melt and transform. But as far as we know, only organic life reproduces to create unique offspring which themselves consume, transform and eliminate matter/energy.
³ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis (as appearing today)
4 See the article by Roy Carter posted in September 2018: Thorium – A safer, more efficient and abundant energy source for the future?
5 While it is true that demented warlords threaten our democracy, Earthpages is doing everything it can to quell that unwelcome development, especially in Canada where the problem remains largely ignored or unnoticed.
Related » Great Mother