Vanishing Face Of Gaia,The Hardcover – Mar 17 2009
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About the Author
James Lovelock is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory). He has written three books on the subject: Gaia: a new look at life on Earth; The Ages of Gaia; Gaia: the practical science of planetary medicine; and an autobiography, Homage to Gaia. He has received many honorary degrees as well as being made Companion of Honour by the Queen in 2003. He has held posts at numerous universities both in the UK and the US and since 1994 has been an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford.
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Top Customer Reviews
A view of the Earth introduced in the 1980s that sees it as a self-regulating system made up from the totality of organisms, the surface rocks, the oceans, and the atmosphere tightly coupled as an evolving system. The theory sees the system as having a goal--the regulation of surface conditions so as always to be favourable for contemporary life as possible. It is based on observations and theoretical models; it...has made eight successful predictions."
The above comes from the glossary of the engrossing and slim book by James Lovelock (who is 90 years old). He is an independent scientist, inventor, author, researcher, environmentalist, and futurist who lives in southwest England. Lovelock is the recipient of many scientific awards and other honours. Given his stature, this writing (as well as his other writings) deserve close attention.
GAIA (named after the Goddess of Earth in Greek mythology) which essentially views the Earth as kind of a super organism has overcome its main critics to become part of a distinguished historical tradition of serious (if not controversial) science. Lovelock and his proponents regard GAIA as a scientific theory since (as stated above) it has passed predictive tests.
Generally, Lovelock, being an independent scientist, lacks confidence in mainstream science climate models. He makes the case that it's too late to prevent global warming (which he calls "global heating"). Thus we must think about how to adapt and act fast. The best chapters (at least for me) concern survival strategies, such as energy and food options.Read more ›
There has been much said recently (2012-13) about the limitations of climate models and the difficulty in making long term climate predictions. Lovelock wrote so already in 'Vanishing Face'in 2009. His final warning is not to allow ourselves to be lulled into a fool's paradise just because the climate system behaves sometimes erratically and contrary to what one would expect. He points to empirical evidence from observation to show that the planet's average climate keeps indeed getting warmer. Join to this what needs no scientists to explain, namely that unsustainable population growth and the pressure for relentless economic growth continue unabated with all the attendant loss of bio-diversity and consequential alterations to Gaia's face on which all life exists. It is not hard to see why it is vanishing.
This book is an absolute must to read for everyone who is remotely interested in conserving our environment. I can only read one chapter at a time, it is so scary, but is a "wake-up" call.
There is little doubt that Gaia is passing through a troubling phase in its ever changing existence and Lovelock attempts to identify the causes of this troubled state. Over and over again,throughout the book, he points an accusing finger at our overpopulation of the Earth as being a major and, possibly, the major cause of our woes. To use Lovelock's own words: ".. the root cause is too many people ... more than the earth can carry". He is not exactly confident in our ability to stave off the potentially disastrous consequences of this overpopulation. Moreover, he does not have much confidence in our use of computer models to try and predict what will happen in the future and is even more pessimistic about our ability to stave off disaster. In his view Gaia,as whole, will undoubtedly survive no matter what but the future of the human race has a huge question mark hanging over it.
Unfortunately the book is marred by an almost inexplicable flaw.Read more ›