I am Gaia, Hear me Roar

At a seminar today Gaia was described as ‘Mother Earth’, conjuring up pictures of a nurturing, protective, maternal figure.

James Lovelock, developer of the Gaia Theory, the fiercely independent 90 year old scientist who has studied much of the human impact  on earth in the past millennium, disagrees.

His new book ‘The Vanishing Face of Gaia’ (his last one was ‘The Revenge of Gaia’) contains dire warnings. Far from a nice gentle figure he describes Gaia in similar terms to the powerful, overbearing mother figure sometimes portrayed in popular media who knows exactly how to put her children in their place.

The ideas that stem from Gaia theory put us in our proper place as part of the earth system- not the owners, managers, commisars or people in charge. The Earth has not evolved solely for our benefit and any changes we make to it are at our own risk.

Planting a plantation does not make an ecosystem any more than putting a liver in a jar fed with blood and nutrients makes a man. An ecosystem, a natural forest can evolve… as the climate changes.

Gaia theory treats earth as a self-regulating system made up of the totality of organisms (of which humans are one species)

The concept of a living earth is not easy to grasp even as a metaphor. ..The evidence that the earth behaves like a living system is now strong. It can either resist climate change or enhance it, and unless we take this into account we can neither forecast nor understand the earth’s behaviour.

Keep in mind that it is hubris to think that we know how to save the earth. Our planet looks after itself. All that we can do is try to save ourselves