- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (28 Sept. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192862189
- ISBN-13: 978-0192862181
- Product Dimensions: 19 x 1 x 12.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth Paperback – 28 Sep 2000
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More About the Author
"This may turn out to be one of the epochal insights of the 20th century."--CoEvolution Quarterly"The most fascinating book that I have read for a long time....Both original and well-written."--New Scientist"Places a daring hypothesis before the general reader....[His book] is the exciting and personal argument of an original thinker caught up in wonder."--Philip Morrison, Scientific American"A book that I have read with immense pleasure."--Rene Dubos, Nature" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
James Lovelock is an independent scientist, inventor, and author. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974 and in 1990 was awarded the first Amsterdam Prize for the Environment by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of his inventions is the electron capture detector, which was important in the development of environmental awareness. It revealed for the first time the ubiquitous distribution of pesticide residues. He co-operated with NASA and some of his inventions were adopted in their programme of planetary exploration.
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Top Customer Reviews
Having said that, any system can overload. Thus, we need to be good stewards of our planet.
As the astronauts left the earth in the 1960's and headed towards the moon they looked back at our planet and did not see borders or countries. They saw the earth as a single unit...beautiful and fragile. It rotated on an invisible string in the blackness of night. It affected many of the astronauts profoundly.
The book has already helped many more people see the earth as a single unit. If it can continue to do that, hopefully we will find a way to live more harmoniously with the environment on our planet.
Gaia is a great read and a way of looking at things that is both fascination and enlightening!
The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
The data is thought provoking, the hypothesis, that the planet can be modelled by thinking of it in terms of a homeostatic (Self regulating) organism is certainly supported byy the evidence presented and the top-down look at the world makes a refreshing and worthwile change from the 'standard' reductionist approach. Now for the 'but';
Lovelock makes the common, unfortunate and in this book serial mistake (to my mind at least)of confusing effect with intent. For example he cites the chemically unstable composition of the atmosphere, maintained by life, as evidence that Gaia - the world organism - is self regulating for the benefit of life. His argument runs that if this atmospheric balance was not maintained life would die out, therefore Gaia must have lifes best interests at heart and work for the benefit and propagation of life.
This is an all too common confusion accidentaly propagted by many, the underpinning science is engaging, interesting and enlightening but the unfortunate phrasing in terms of the planets intent irritates throughout the book. Just because we can interpret things more easily by considering the planet in terms of an organism does not mean it thinks and feels as a human psyche. Conversly it also doesn't mean it doesn't think like us, it may, but I would prefer this isn't assumed when there is no evidence to support it.
Overall, well worth reading but beware the anthromorphic phrasing. I'm interested to see how his more science orientated book turns out. In the post as I type.
What this unique book may also prove to have done is act as a pivotal stepping stone in time: a step back into our most atavistic, indigenous roots, a time when we lived in harmony with the Earth - talk to any Inuit, Aborigine, or Sioux elder and they retain that deeply intuitive and spiritual connection; but just as significantly, a step into the future - towards a re-newed awareness of our responsibility and acute vulnerability as part of the Earth's 'living' ecology. Climate change is the moment that latter reality is returned home to us with the harshest and most dangerous of lessons. And in a sense, climate change was the mighty prediction James Lovelock issued with his Gaia Hypothesis.
More recently he's said his hope lies "in that powerful force that takes over our lives when we sense that our tribe or nation is threatened from outside". However, he's also said "I do think it will take a disaster to wake us up''. Let's hope, on that score at least, and for all our sakes, he's wrong.
Unfortunately, the argument is expressed in overlong and convoluted fashion. He deliberately limits himself to a nonscientific explanation in this book. The scientific version of the argument is in The Ages of Gaia. Although the book is not long, it certainly could have been condensed into a longish article for Scientific American or The Atlantic Monthly. My second quibble is that the editor was nowhere in sight in creating the organization of the book. The key point is often buried in the third sentence of the last paragraph in a chapter. The argument in between wanders into all kinds of places where it doesn't need to go. For organization and editing, I give this book a one star rating.
So the average is a 4 star rating. The writing itself is pleasant enough. Don't let the lack of organization and editing put you off, for it is worth your while to read this book. It will remind you of the benefits of the sort of sytems thinking that Peter Senge talks about in The Fifth Discipline.
The other thing you will learn is the weakness of scientific work that fails to develop enough field data and to connect enough with other disciplines.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simultaneously astonishing for its novelty when published (without Lovelock whole genres of ecology and earth science would be virtually unpopulated), it is also hopelessly dated... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Dr. Geoffrey Kemball-Cook
Even now this is a really interesting book. I'm in my 3rd of 4 years of a chemistry degree, and so decided to pick it up to give me some background about the environment of the... Read morePublished 13 months ago by O. J. Higgins
An enjoyable read which helped me appreciate the inter-connectedness of everything.Published 15 months ago by 1957
Brought as a gift and he thought it very good and thought provokingPublished 15 months ago by Amanda
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