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The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning…
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The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning (2009 original; edició 2009)

de James Lovelock (Autor)

Sèrie: Gaia Theory (book 6)

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In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, British scientist James Lovelock predicts global warming will lead to a Hot Epoch. Lovelock is best known for formulating the controversial Gaia theory in the 1970s, with Ruth Margulis of the University of Massachusetts, which states that organisms interact with and regulate Earth's surface and atmosphere. We ignore this interaction at our peril.An "unwilling Cassandra," he is nevertheless an "an optimistic pessimist" and thinks we will survive the coming Hot Epoch, but predicts climate change will reduce our population from 9 billion to around one billion or less."I don't think nine billion is better than one billion," Lovelock writes. He compares humans to the "first photosynthesisers, which, when they first appeared on the planet, caused enormous damage by releasing oxygen -- a nasty, poisonous gas." Oxygen turned out to be beneficial to the life forms that evolved to utilize it, including us, but a global anaerobic ecosystem gave way in the face of this atmospheric change. If simple microbial life forms could effect such a change, why is it hard to believe that humans could do so, too?… (més)
Membre:Heather.Fox
Títol:The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning
Autors:James Lovelock (Autor)
Informació:Basic Books (2009), 288 pages
Col·leccions:Audible, La teva biblioteca
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Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning de James E. Lovelock (2009)

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Lovelock has written his place in history with his creation and early championing of the concept of Gaia, a living dynamic Earth. Just a sense of the scale of this concept can be gathered if you consider that in the scale of billions of years (and Gaia has been in existence for some five billion years) even the very substance of the Earth is fluid. I am writing this in a house perched on the side of an eroded pluton that boiled up deep beneath the earth 800 million years ago when two continents split apart. In that time five miles of ground above my head has been eroded away, turning into minerals that fed plants that created oxygen that was incorporated into rocks that have been deposited in layers 2 miles deep just a little to the west of here. Gaia, of course works on massive time scales, and the problem for humans is not only to comprehend its vastness, but it's incredible slowness. Which is why what we are seeing in the change in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere so alarms Lovelock now. Like Wegener before him (who proposed the continents move, collide and split apart) who was ridiculed at first, Lovelock is now finding his place in the sun.

Lovelock makes the point that human existence is an 'ornament' to Gaia, we are at the very least an 'interesting development' in the history of the planet, but he reminds us that for all but a fraction of a fraction of its existence we have not existed. Gaia can get along just fine without us, and if we leave the scene, will recover from (almost) whatever we do to it. I say almost, because Lovelock's mind has turned in this book to the possibility that we might actually kill the entire planet, everything down to bare rock. Now so far his message is consistent with what has gone before, he is talking about the interaction of our population and the World System, and comes to the conclusion that about 100 million is the sustainable population for the entire planet. Which is radical, but he makes a persuasive argument.

Where this book comes off the rails, plummets down the ravine, bursts into flame and is subsequently carried away in a flash flood is his determination to argue about how humanity could and should respond to this crisis. He makes the case that at the present rate of change it appears we have no more than twenty years or so to 'get it right', and I don't argue with that. Even if it's wrong its worth believing in because at least it gets us started. But where I disagree strongly with Lovelock is when he moves from 'could' to 'should' and 'musts'. He spends a great deal of energy (and this reader's patience) arguing that nuclear is good and wind power is bad. I know where he is coming from, there is an argument about wind power's ability to deliver base-load energy (eg 24/7) and he is right to point out that 'potential' solutions to that issue are not worth discussing unless they can be brought on-stream within that 20 year time-frame he has allowed before we tip 'over the edge'. But it grates, especially when he admits that he feels that one of the great demerits of wind is how it is a visual blight on the country side. While arguing that we should forgive Nuclear its few sins (and he claims there are far fewer than Fukushima would suggest there actually is) for the sake of saving the planet. I'm sorry to say that if saving the plant is the goal I can't take Lovelock's argument that visual blight outweighs occasional nuclear fallout. In fact I'd welcome both. But Lovelock lives next to a proposed wind farm site (he freely admits), and not a nuclear reactor.

It's an interesting case where the originator of an idea goes on to evolve separately from the idea. Of course that is actually how it always happens. We neaten up history by pretending that Einstein from the moment of his birth to his death was the author of that famous equation and that he never had a contradictory or wrong headed idea besides that. It is also a case where you might suspect that someone who is acknowledged as a genius in one area, or in expounding one concept, is tempted into comment about matters beyond his field of competence. Many of the issues about the viability of solutions involve not just an understanding of the concept of Gaia, and of chemistry and climate dynamics (which Lovelock is at ease in), but also matters of technology and global economics. I wouldn't suggest that Lovelock is suffering from hubris, I'm more inclined to believe that his belief in the need for urgent responses on a world wide basis has brought him back into print - to use his reputation to broadcast his message. But I wish only that he had restricted himself to making the warning, and discussing the (very many) options we still have, rather than trying to prescribe them. Recommended if you are exploring Lovelock, but start with his first book, and take this one with a very large dose of salt. ( )
  nandadevi | Jul 21, 2013 |
Lovelock believes it is too late to prevent a hot earth, and that most green options are hollow. Still, we can save the species and there is hope in that,
Promotes nuclear power. Even given the Fukushima disaster I think that nuclear must be explored as an option.
  jefware | Sep 7, 2011 |
Bits of brilliant science interspersed with random tidbits of complete conjecture. I agree that the green movement is doing more harm than good. I would love to hear a debate between him and Ray Kurzweil. Some of this was so incredibly refreshing (his opinion of nuclear power) and other bits just made me go 'hum'. I will never look at a wind turbine the same way again. He seems to have lost touch with political reality. Even though he stated that we are tribal carnivores - I don't see the world taking down all national borders any time soon so that the 'moist cool' areas could be made to support what humanity there is. We can't even agree there is a problem...and the ones who have don't agree on what that problem is. I think his perspective on the human race in relation to earth is spot on - we are mere fairly powerless symbiotic parasites, nothing special really. ( )
  Clueless | Aug 3, 2011 |
everyone should read this book ( )
  LornaR | May 1, 2010 |
Once more, with feeling: the nonagenarian Gaia theorist reiterates the opinions and dire prognostications of _The Revenge of Gaia_. Wind energy no, nuclear and solar-thermal yes, geoengineering measures maybe, global heating and drastic population decrease probably unavoidable.
  fpagan | Jul 2, 2009 |
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In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, British scientist James Lovelock predicts global warming will lead to a Hot Epoch. Lovelock is best known for formulating the controversial Gaia theory in the 1970s, with Ruth Margulis of the University of Massachusetts, which states that organisms interact with and regulate Earth's surface and atmosphere. We ignore this interaction at our peril.An "unwilling Cassandra," he is nevertheless an "an optimistic pessimist" and thinks we will survive the coming Hot Epoch, but predicts climate change will reduce our population from 9 billion to around one billion or less."I don't think nine billion is better than one billion," Lovelock writes. He compares humans to the "first photosynthesisers, which, when they first appeared on the planet, caused enormous damage by releasing oxygen -- a nasty, poisonous gas." Oxygen turned out to be beneficial to the life forms that evolved to utilize it, including us, but a global anaerobic ecosystem gave way in the face of this atmospheric change. If simple microbial life forms could effect such a change, why is it hard to believe that humans could do so, too?

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