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Driving Breakthroughs to a Thriving Future

EarthTHRIVE Initiative

James Lovelock


James Lovelock





When I first heard Lovelock's GAIA Hypothesis, I was hooked. The vision of EARTH behaving like an incomprehensibly complex living organism, under siege by human excess made enormously good sense to me. So much so that I now consider myself a GAIAN, and have a foundational commitment to the recovery and wellbeing of GAIA, all her human and non-human children/inhabitants.

From: A Rough Ride to the Future

Published 2014

Thomas Newcomen invented the steam engine, it was unknowingly beginning what Lovelock calls "accelerated evolution," a process that is bringing about change on our planet roughly a million times faster than Darwinian evolution. The second is that as part of this process, humanity has the capacity to become the intelligent part of Gaia, the self-regulating earth system whose discovery Lovelock first announced nearly fifty years ago.

 A Rough Ride to the Future is also an intellectual autobiography, in which Lovelock reflects on his life as a lone scientist, and asks-eloquently whether his career trajectory is possible in an age of increased bureaucratization. We are now changing the atmosphere again, and Lovelock argues that there is little that can be done about this. But instead of feeling guilty, we should recognize what is happening, prepare for change, and ensure that we survive as a species so we can contribute, to-perhaps even guide the next evolution of Gaia. The road will be rough, but if we are smart enough, life will continue on earth in some form far into the future.

From: The Vanishing Face of GAIA

Lovelock (The Revenge of Gaia) presents evidence of a dire future for our planet. The controversial originator of Gaia theory (which views Earth as a self-regulating, evolving system made of organisms, the surface rocks, the ocean and the atmosphere with the goal always to be as favorable for contemporary life as possible) proposes an even more inconvenient truth than Al Gore's. No voluntary human act can reduce our numbers fast enough even to slow climate change. Nevertheless, human civilization has a duty to survive in the few safe havens—the far north and south, islands like Great Britain and Tasmania—free from the drought that will overtake most of the Earth. While Lovelock's propensity to ramble is disconcerting, his predictions are persuasive—although some readers will be appalled by his contention that democracy may need to be abandoned to appropriately confront the challenge. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Published in 2006, THE REVENGE OF GAIA   delves into the many ways our home planet GAIA is reacting to abuses by humans over the last 100 years or so.


One reviewer said: "Lovelock will go down in history as the scientist who changed our view of the Earth... [The Revenge of Gaia] is the most important book ever to be published on the environmental crisis." — The Independent


"And: [Lovelock is] a scientific visionary...His book is riveting... packed with wisdom and integrity, beautifully written, challenging" — Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government [UK], The Times


A sample Page:

We need a portfolio of energy sources, with nuclear playing a major part, at least until fusion power becomes a practical option. If food can be synthesized by the chemical and biochemical industries from carbon dioxide, water d then it and give the Earth a and rest. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Almost a third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen. If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global heating, we may die even sooner, as did more than 30,000 unfortunates from overheating in Europe in the summer of 2003. We have to take global change seriously and immediately and then do our best to lessen the footprint of humans on Earth. Our goal should be the cessation of fossil fuel consumption as quickly as possible, and there must be no more natural-habitat destruction anywhere. When I use the term "natural" I am not thinking only of primeval forests: I include also the forests that have grown back when farmland was abandoned, as happened in New England and other parts of the USA. These re-established forests probably perform their Gaian services as well as did the original forests, but the vast open stretches of monoculture farmland are no substitute for natural ecosystems. We are already farming more than the Earth can afford, and if we attempt to farm the whole Earth to feed people, even with organic farming, it would make us like sailors who burnt the timbers and rigging of their ship to keep warm. The natural ecosystems of the Earth are not just there for us to take as farmland; they are there to sustain the climate and the chemistry of the planet.


 To undo the harm we have already done requires a programme whose scale dwarfs the space and military programmes, in cost and size. We live at a time when emotions and feelings count more than truth, and there is a vast ignorance of science. We have allowed fiction writers and green lobbies to exploit the fear of nuclear energy and of almost any new science, in the same way that the churches exploited the fear of Hellfire not so long ago. We are like passengers on a large aircraft crossing the Atlantic Ocean who suddenly realize just how much carbon dioxide their plane is adding to the already overburdened air. It would hardly help if they asked the captain to turn off the engines and let the plane travel like a glider by wind power alone.