Thursday, January 19, 2006

Revenge of Gaia


A P photo
I have been harboring this idea for over a year now, so I am glad in the most climate noir kind of way that someone who has briefed Margaret Thatcher on the issue has come to the same view. James Lovelock, the scientist and green guru who conceived the idea of Gaia, now believes that we are, well,

Toast.

As much as I would like to think that most of this is for shock value,

I suspect it is not.

The story came out in the Independent


Environment in crisis: 'We are past the point of no return'
Copyright 2006, Independent
Date: January 16, 2006
Byline: Michael McCarthy

Thirty years ago, the scientist James Lovelock worked out that the Earth possessed a planetary-scale control system which kept the environment fit for life. He called it Gaia, and the theory has become widely accepted. Now, he believes mankind's abuse of the environment is making that mechanism work against us. His astonishing conclusion - that climate change is already insoluble, and life on Earth will never be the same again.

The world has already passed the point of no return for climate change, and civilisation as we know it is now unlikely to survive, according to James Lovelock, the scientist and green guru who conceived the idea of Gaia - the Earth which keeps itself fit for life.

In a profoundly pessimistic new assessment, published in today's Independent, Professor Lovelock suggests that efforts to counter global warming cannot succeed, and that, in effect, it is already too late.

The world and human society face disaster to a worse extent, and on a faster timescale, than almost anybody realises, he believes. He writes: " Before this century is over, billions of us will die, and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable."

In making such a statement, far gloomier than any yet made by a scientist of comparable international standing, Professor Lovelock accepts he is going out on a limb. But as the man who conceived the first wholly new way of looking at life on Earth since Charles Darwin, he feels his own analysis of what is happening leaves him no choice.

He believes that it is the self-regulating mechanism of Gaia itself - increasingly accepted by other scientists worldwide, although they prefer to term it the Earth System - which, perversely, will ensure that the warming cannot be mastered. This is because the system contains myriad feedback mechanisms which in the past have acted in concert to keep the Earth much cooler than it otherwise would be.

Now, however, they will come together to amplify the warming being caused by human activities such as transport and industry through huge emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2 ).

It means that the harmful consequences of human beings damaging the living planet's ancient regulatory system will be non-linear - in other words, likely to accelerate uncontrollably.

He terms this phenomenon "The Revenge of Gaia" and examines it in detail in a new book with that title, to be published next month. "

Even Bloomberg carried a version of the story,

Climate change will kill billions of people this century as the Earth warms, passing into a ``fever'' phase from which it may take 100,000 years to recover, James Lovelock, the scientist who propounded the ``Gaia'' theory, said.

Temperatures in temperate regions such as Europe and the U.S., will soar by 8 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, and those in the tropics will rise by 5 degrees as a result of man-made emissions, Lovelock wrote in today's Independent newspaper.

``We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma,'' Lovelock wrote. ``She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years.

We are responsible and will suffer the consequences.''

Last night, I watched as MSNBC raked Hillary over the coals

for her Plantation statement.

They went on and on.

We should be outlawing the use of coal,

not tearing down thoughtful, articulate leaders,

for stating the obvious about our current leadership.

This kind of media irresponsibility

will lead to the fullfilled prophecy of Lovelock for sure.

There are three strategies to employ against Climate Change.

Mitigate.

Adapt.

Respond.

This is not going to be a tea party folks.


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6 Comments:

Blogger James Aach said...

Mr. Lovelock has also raised a stir in recent years by speaking positively about nuclear power (which he continues to do in his latest remarks). His basis is reducing carbon emissions. Another prominent long-time enviromentalist, Stewart Brand (founder of The Whole Earth Catalog) has also called for a second look at nuclear power. Mr. Brand has also endorsed an entertaining techno-thriller on the subject, "Rad Decision", as a way for the lay person to better understand this energy source. The novel was written by a longtime engineer in the American nuclear power industry. It is available at no cost to readers at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com.s.).

10:08 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

Yes, JA, some do have a frying pan to the fire mentality.

I believe that we can and will develop advanced post promethean solutions that will make nuclear energy look silly and just as incompetent as all our the other carbon based energy systems we presently employ.

Nanobased technologies will remove carbon from the atmosphere as we convert our surfaces to photon to electon devices.

Advanced emaser systems will protect our cities and crops as we redirect that energy to its proper receiving field.

We must rethink everything...
including the idea that building more giant poisonous fires is the answer.

Present Nuclear technology is an 80 year old inherently fascist technology that will only compound our survivability issues.

It should be rejected as even a transitional strategy.

Thanks for your comment and for pointing out Mr. Lovelock's seriously shortsited support of nuclear technology.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had to google it up, "Gaia," and even then it was ten down on the results: Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. I never woulda guessed that was what the acronym meant.
I read the article as carefully as tri-focals will allow and I couldn't find it in the text. Be kinder to those of us outta da loop, and be a bit more explicit.
FM

11:25 AM  
Blogger OZ said...

FM, I googled it and got the Gaia Hypothesis pretty early. Sorry, you had trouble.

The writer of the story apparently thought it was a pretty well known concept too.

Thanks for the comment

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are shocking times. It took courage for James Lovelock to put that pronouncement in print. Perhaps we will begin to look at this more seriously. Then it may just be too late.

I am, however, an optimist and a believer in the power to transform or perhaps I am just in denial.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous respectisthehub said...

I will not say that an unadorned apocalypse will not happen, but I will say the fact that we have not already brought one to pass is something of a miracle for which we should be thankful. It is not yet time to give up.

5:11 PM  

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