GWYNNE DYER, August 2, 2022:
Gazing into the future of Gaia — Revolutionary thinker James Lovelock was truly Darwin’s heir.
‘Jim Lovelock’s blunt predictions of global climate disaster were once seen as exaggerated, but he understood what was really happening.’ He died on July 27, on his 103rd birthday. (Images via Reuters)
Jim Lovelock was a late bloomer.
His first book, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, was published in 1979, when he was already 60 years old. By the time he died last week, on his 103rd birthday, he had written 10 more books on Gaia, the hypothesis that has evolved into the key academic discipline of Earth System Science.
That gives him a strong claim to be Charles Darwin’s legitimate heir. Just as Darwin’s 19th-century theory of evolution shaped our understanding of how life became so diverse, our understanding of the present is shaped by Lovelock’s idea that the millions of living species function as a self-regulating mechanism that keeps the planet cool enough for abundant life.
The puzzle that started Lovelock down that road was the fact that the sun’s radiation has increased by 30 per cent since life appeared on Earth 3.7 billion years ago, while the planet’s average temperature, despite occasional huge surges up or down, has consistently returned to the narrow range most suitable for life.
What was making that happen?
Collaborating with American biologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, he worked out a tentative description of the super-organism he named Gaia and wrote his first book. Most scientists treated it with disdain because he was not a biologist, but also because Gaia had New-Age connotations that he was unaware of. (Jim was not a hippy.) Continue reading Gwynne Dyer on James Lovelock, father of “Gaia”