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Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia [Paperback]

Stephan Harding
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 Mar 2009
In Animate Earth Stephan Harding explores how Gaian science can help us to develop a sense of connectedness with the more-than-human world. His work is based on careful integration of rational scientific analysis with our intuition, sensing and feeling - a vitally important task at this time of severe ecological and climate crisis. Stephan Harding replaces the cold, objectifying language of science with a way of speaking of our planet as a sentient, living being rather than as a dead, inert mechanism. For example, chemical reactions are described using metaphors from human life, such as marriage, attraction, repulsion etc., so as to bring personality back into the world of rocks, atmosphere, water and living things, In this sense, the book is a contemporary attempt to rediscover anima mundi (the soul of the world) through Gaian science, whilst assuming no prior knowledge of science. Animate Earth argues that we need to establish a right relationship with the planet as a living entity in which we are indissolubly embedded - and to which, in the final analysis, we are all accountable. The book inspires the reader to connect with a profound sense of the intrinsic value of the Earth, and to discover what it means to live as harmoniously as possible within a sentient creature of planetary proportions. This expanded second edition includes a new chapter on fungi, new contemplative exercises and an update on the global climate situation.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Green Books; Second edition (30 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1900322544
  • ISBN-13: 978-1900322546
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 266,489 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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A wonderful and beautiful book. --James Lovelock<br /><br />Animate Earth represents systems science at its best ... gives a whole new dimension to what environment-friendly really means. --Jonathon Porritt, Chairman, UK Sustainable Development Commission<br /><br />Animate Earth is a brilliant synthesis of Gaian science and forward-looking social theory. This is big-picture thinking that can truly help to heal the Earth. --Helena Norberg-Hodge, Director, International Society for Ecology and Culture

Animate Earth represents systems science at its best ... gives a whole new dimension to what environment-friendly really means. --Jonathon Porritt, Chairman, UK Sustainable Development Commission

Animate Earth is a brilliant synthesis of Gaian science and forward-looking social theory. This is big-picture thinking that can truly help to heal the Earth. --Helena Norberg-Hodge, Director, International Society for Ecology and Culture

From the Inside Flap

‘A wonderful and beautiful book’ – James Lovelock

’Animate Earth represents systems science at its best. I defy you not to be swept along by Stephan Harding's account of how the Earth's natural systems (particularly the carbon cycle) have evolved and of our part in them. In the process, he brings the concept of Gaia to life, not just in terms of the science, but philosophically and
personally-giving a whole new dimension to what 'environment-friendly' really means.’ Jonathon Porritt, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission

‘The conception of the Earth as a living, self-organising system, known today as Gaia theory, is an ancient idea and yet one of the most radical and far-reaching scientific theories of the 20th century. In this remarkable book, Stephan Harding, who has worked closely with James Lovelock, tells the story in a way that is scientifically sophisticated, yet easy to understand and captivating. Harding writes about Gaia with great passion, and he eloquently discusses the theory’s philosophical, social and political implications. I recommend Animate Earth to everyone concerned about the fate of our planet.’ Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections

’Stephan Harding is one of the few people who knows how to link the science of Gaia with the spirit of Gaia. He shows us that we must understand Gaia not just as an idea in our heads; we must also experience ourselves as part of her living being. . . . A brave book which may upset people from both sides of the divide he seeks to
bridge-which makes it all the more essential reading for those seeking to respond to the challenges of our times.’ Peter Reason, Professor of Action Research Practice, School of Management, University of Bath

’For depth of understanding of Earth functioning and our human role in the process, Stephan Harding's Animate Earth is the finest of recent studies. It should be read, meditated on, and adopted as a guide to our human course of action if we would avoid the disaster of an ecological collapse of life on Earth.’ Thomas Berry, author of The Great Work and The Dream of the Earth --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rigour and imagination 29 Jun 2006
In my view Stephan Harding's "Animate Earth" is the best book yet written on Gaia. Gregory Bateson used to talk about the need for rigour and imagination. Harding brings precisely these qualities to the job of writing about the Earth.

Harding has shown in his work at Schumacher College that he is a brilliant teacher -- witty, learned and just wonderfully alive. He invests all of himself in this book. It is Harding's gift to Gaia, a work of love.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a remarkable book 26 April 2006
This book offers a brilliant new approach - at once rigorous, experiential, and intuitive - to the most up-to-date research within planetary ecology. Harding is a close associate of James Lovelock, the polymathic scientist who formulated the Gaia hypothesis - the theory that the chemical composition of the earth's atmosphere, its temperature, the salinity of its oceans, and a host of other variables are continually monitored and modulated by all the earth's organic constituents acting collectively, as a vast planetary metabolism. Originally considered an utterly radical hypothesis when first proposed in the 1970s, Lovelock's insight early on attracted the active support and research interest of one of the most far-seeing American biologists, the audacious microbial biologist Lynn Margulis, and has since, as their evidence mounted, garnered more and more respect from the scientific community. Today most of the theory's tenets have been integrated within the standard account of planetary ecology.

Harding - the staff scientist at Schumacher College - brings a new, deeply participatory approach to the articulation of whole earth science, employing a nuanced sense of philosophy and the history of ideas in order to demonstrate the transformative, paradigm-shattering power of Gaian theory. Throughout his lucid presentation of recent and ongoing empirical research, Harding strives to show the relevance of these remarkable discoveries to our most personal experience of the world immediately around us.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I attended several lectures by Stephen at Schumacher College in 2005, it was my first introduction to Gaia theory, I found some of the concepts extremely difficult to grasp and even harder to explain to other people. Animate Earth is easily accessable to any level of reader and breathes life and vision into Lovelock's work. I would reccomend this book to anyone interested in understanding Gaia theory, holistic science and the interconnectivity of all life. I love the way this book weaves together hard science with more intuitive and qualitative understandings of the world!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wild, Complex, Dynamic Being 10 Aug 2009
"A vild, complex, dynamic being" - that's what Stephan Harding calls Earth in his book Animate Earth. Science, Intuition and Gaia (2006). There he collects the wisdom that as a "Resident Ecologist" he gives out at Schumacher College in Devon, England. In the summer 1999 he made also the Green party in Skne, Sweden, happy with this wisdom, lecturing on how the earth's ecological system functions as feedback processes within the framework of the sun energy's infinitely complicated cycles on earth. So with carbon's, calcium's and sulphur's, oxygen's and phosphorus' "travels" over land and sea, through atmosphere and underground. Important are the clouds, which with their white upper surface reflect away the sunlight that would have made Earth too hot. Over the sea, the clouds are formed through condensation nucleii from algae. In such ways, life regulates the temperature in its own habitat and is everywhere participating in what happens. Ecology's miracle is that waste products from one being becomes" food" for another; so with oxygen from plants that runs ourselves (and the animals), at the same time as we give away carbon dioxide, which is food for the plants. So the planet is one big symbios of matter and life: Gaia.
In our time Earth is desperate, Harding means; it wobbles between glacial periods and shorter hot periods like a top that is losing its speed. With his square reason man is not skilled to handle this. Instead, we need to feel that we live our lives in symbiotic relationship with a planetary being, so very much bigger than we - something similar to mitochondria in the cell. Gaia certainly is more like a living organism than a dead stone lump, but alive in the ordinary sense she is not, maybe. But Earth is something much bigger and more remarkable than we usually think.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Important Book of 21st Century 5 May 2006
In my view this is the most important book I have ever read - and I have read many. It is a seminal work, as was Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Every scientist, every science student and every person who calls him or herself an environmentalist should make it their duty to read this work. It is extraordinarily well researched and profound. Your whole attitude to science, to nature and to life itself will inevitably be changed after reading it, unless you have a totally closed mind. Time is running out for the human race as we blindly destroy our own life support systems. Animate Earth points the way to securing the future of life on earth.

One can only hope that enough people read this book before it's too late.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone wishing to engage in positive change
A wonderful book, full of illustrations and deep experience showing how our planet is alive. A fundamental piece for anyone that wishes to engage in positive change in... Read more
Published 12 months ago by SoleR
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaia explained by a true communicator
This book should be read by anyone who cares for the environment and those who are sceptical about humankind's effect on the planet. Read more
Published 16 months ago by JOHN MARGERISON
5.0 out of 5 stars How the World really works
Fascinating, thought and feeling provoking experience. Should be used as a textbook in all school the World over to make a happier healthier global community.
Published 16 months ago by RADiCal
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!
The author stoop up to the challenge of presenting such a complex subject in a very accessible manner. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Loc Le Goueff
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect antidote to dogmatic scientism
This book is written with the thought, feeling, intuition and sensing so highly heralded within the book. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mr. M. Tyrrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-changing
Many books claim to be 'life-changing',and for some of them this may be true at an individual level. Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2011 by Gill Coombs
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book! I love it!
I bought this book for a module for my Geography degree programme. This book was brilliant. Not a chore to read in the slightest. Read more
Published on 25 Oct 2009 by Lucius
5.0 out of 5 stars A hugely important book introducing the key idea of our time
This is a wonderful book that goes much further than just giving a very readable, clear and solid introduction to Gaia Theory. Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2008 by C. Johnstone
5.0 out of 5 stars Animate Earth
Real science - not boring but fun & full of enthusiasm. Looking forward to his next book.
Published on 11 April 2006
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