james-lovelock

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James Lovelock et al: The Earth and I (2016)

“Our lofty status comes with responsibility as much as possibility: How should we approach our present and future? What knowledge should we carry with us? Conceived by James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory, this illustrated essay collection brings together an all-star line-up of thinkers and scientists to offer essential understanding about who we are, how we live, and where we might be going.

Much as the Gaia theory considers our earth as an integrated whole of living systems, The Earth and I encourages holistic understanding. Across 12 chapters, we take in both the intricate details and immense structures of our species and our planet, from our ever-expanding universe to our minuscule but mighty cells. We see stellar explosions and the layers of life beneath our feet, delve into the neuroscience of decision-making, get to grips with our climate, and contemplate our increasing intimacy with technology.

The book’s world-class contributors include quantum physicist Lisa Randall, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist Edward O. Wilson, and Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel. With lively illustrations from British artist Jack Hudson, the result is an inspiration for curious minds young and old, and a trusted tool kit for an informed and enlightened future.“

by James Lovelock (Editor), Jack Hudson (Illustrator) 

Get it now here

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JAMES LOVELOCK HAS spent decades thinking about the apocalypse. (When you’re the highly influential scientist who helped detect the hole in the earth’s ozone layer, that’s part of your job.) At some point, Lovelock realized that, in the event of a mass catastrophe, survivors might benefit from a manual of sorts—a text that explains how the world once worked. “What we need is a primer on science, clearly written and unambiguous in its meaning,” Lovelock wrote in a 1998 essay for Science titled “A Book for All Seasons.” The Earth and I ($30) is not that book. But it does explain in digestible terms how the earth came to be, how it behaves, and how we humans impact it. 

SEE MORE: The Earth and I: a gorgeous picture book from famed scientist James Lovelock. 

If Gaia exists, the relationship between her and man, a dominant animal species in the complex living system, and the possibly shifting balance of power between them, are questions of obvious importance… The Gaia hypothesis is for those who like to walk or simply stand and stare, to wonder about the Earth and the life it bears, and to speculate about the consequences of our own presence here. It is an alternative to that pessimistic view which sees nature as a primitive force to be subdued and conquered. It is also an alternative to that equally depressing picture of our planet as a demented spaceship, forever traveling, driverless and purposeless, around an inner circle of the sun.
—  Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth - James Lovelock
Gradually the world of science has evolved to the dangerous point where model-building has precedence over observation an measurement, especially in Earth and life sciences. In certain ways, modelling by scientists has become a threat to the foundation on which science has stood: the acceptance that nature is always the final arbiter and that a hypothesis must always be tested by experiment and observation in the real world.
—  James Lovelock - The Vanishing Face of Gaia
The Gaia Hypothesis

The Gaia Hypothesis regards the Earth as a living planet, an evolving organism in itself. This system as a whole is called Gaia, in homage of the mythical Gaia (γαῖα), the primal Greek goddess personifying the Earth, the Greek version of “Mother Nature”.

This hypothesis, formulated by the scientist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, postulates what the indigenous peoples have known for centuries, that our planet is a self-regulating intelligence – a fully conscious, living being.

The Gaia Hypothesis describes Earth as a system capable of self-regulation and of mantaining, through interactions between all of its physical, chemical and biological components, the characteristics (composition, temperature, pH, etc.) adequate for the presence of life. It asserts that living organisms and their inorganic surroundings have evolved together, through a cybernetic feedback system operated unconsciously by the biota, as a single living system.

In this respect, the living system of Earth can be thought of analogous to the workings of any individual organism that regulates body temperature, blood salinity, etc. As above, so below. The macrocosmos reflected in the microcosmos, all manifestations of the One.

The entire range of living matter on Earth from whales to viruses and from oaks to algae could be regarded as constituting a single living entity capable of maintaining the Earth’s atmosphere to suit its overall needs and endowed with faculties and powers far beyond those of its constituent parts…[Gaia can be defined] as a complex entity involving the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback of cybernetic systems which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.
—  James Lovelock
The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened.
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– Scientist James Lovelock

James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared. Read more.

VIVIENNE WESTWOOD X JAMES LOVELOCK

So having worked on a bazillion issues of Dazed, which legendary moment did our editor Rod Stanley pick to talk about?

“Vivienne was passionate and knowledgeable, and James [Lovelock] showed no signs of being surprised to be grilled by one of the country’s leading fashion designers." 

Be sure to stay tuned to @DazedMagazine today for your last chance to win Dazed x Ray-Ban 75th Anniversary Celebration tickets. Or go straight to the tab!

Humans on Earth in some ways behave like a pathogenic organism, or like the cells of a tumour or neoplasm. We have grown in numbers and disturbance to Gaia, to the point where our presence is perceptibly disturbing…the human species is now so numerous as to constitute a serious planetary malady. Gaia is suffering from Disseminated Primatemaia, a plague of people.
—  James Lovelock