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Gaia: medicine for an ailing planet Paperback – 15 May 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Gaia Books Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (15 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1856752313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1856752312
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 1.5 x 24.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,139,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

James Lovelock is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory). He has written four books on the subject: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, The Ages of Gaia and Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine, as well as an autobiography, Homage to Gaia. His most recent was The Revenge of Gaia (Allen Lane, 2006). In 2003 he was made a Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen, and in September 2005 Prospect magazine named him as one of the world's top 100 global public intellectuals. In April 2006 he was awarded the Edinburgh Medal at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Product Description

About the Author

Inventive, unorthodox, ingenious and a latter day Darwin, James Lovelock is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding and influential scientist-thinkers of our time. His establishment-science career reads like an honour role, and is reflected by his knighthood in 2002. Lovelock's many inventions include the electron capture detector (ecd), which has been of major significance in increasing our knowledge of the environment. The ecd was also instrumental in the discovery of global pollution by fluoro-carbons, critical to both global warming and the hole in the ozone layer.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John Ault VINE VOICE on 21 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
It is perhaps now hard to remember the impact of the ideas in this book when they were first published. These ideas were so influential on people's thinking that they have been absorbed into the discussion of the global environment. True, they are not universally accepted, indeed there are some who reject much of the thinking in the book. However, the core idea - of regarding the Earth as a single living organism, is so simple yet huge in scope that it touches all subsequent thinking. You can see this idea as a hard fact - a minority view, sometimes almost religious in intensity. Or you can see this idea as a useful metaphor for thinking about how the Earth responds to the good and bad of human actions - probably the more common view.
So the Gaia theory, for all its flaws, should be read by serious folk as a key step in the development of thinking on the global environment. And, lets face it, no subject is more important.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Robin Pain on 22 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you spend your entire life investigating and writing the same theme it ought to be good, even if you are were a bit of a thicky. If you had a bit of nous it should be wonderful. This book is wonderful in the S. Johnson's definition of the word.

Lovelock's book is *very* easy to understand and beautifully illustrated with large pastel coloured graphics of a children's natural history book. It should appeal to the interested child too, even when they will not understand most of the text, they *will* understand the theme and by association "subliminally" get the learning.

I think I remember Lovelock saying in an interview, many years ago, that he learnt a lot about chemistry as a child even though he did not know what it all meant and it was *this* learning that was more significant, not the following university degree course "...you can't get that knowledge in just four years..."

If you were not too keen on chemistry, biology and geology because it was boring then you might find this book Quite-Interesting in the Steven Fry sense. I generally liked these things but was too lazy to learn them... until now that is: It is extremely interesting, now I know what a free-radical actually is!

Almost every page has some gem on it e.g. I laughed out loud when I read that oxygen is a carcinogen! It is so obvious - but I never realised it till that very moment :)

Another was our origin from Big Bang: every one of us contains 30,000 bequerels of radio active potassium - our very existance depends on nuclear fussion and fission - he puts things in perspective - And that is the biggest message of the book/idea/theory...

...or is it theorem?
Read more ›
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By Lesley Jacqueline Blissett on 30 Jun. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very clearly written, easy to understand, absolutely great but a bit frightening when you see the way Governments and big business are treating this very beautiful planet of ours!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The paradigm change which is suggested by James Lovelock is the only inevitable approach which can save the current human culture.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Nice Presentation 15 Jan. 2006
By Elswet Hamilton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If you're familiar with the Gaia Theory, this book offers little new information; however, if you are just beginning your investigation into this theory of growing popularity, I would highly recommend this work. It is plalinly laid out, and lovingly expounded upon. Lovelock didn't break any records with this literary publication, but he created a lovely springboard work for anyone who is interested in the idea of Earth as a Living Planet.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Good, but I do not agree with some points the author made. 30 May 2006
By James Bond 007 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book is quite good and made me aware of planetary processes that I did not know of such as the sulphur cycle with the role of DMS, and in a clear and beautiful way. However, there are some points that I do not agree with him.

The most important point that I do not agree is the part on Oxygen, on which the author said the limit of the oxygen concentration in the atmosphere is set at 21% because of fires. He also said that if the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere is above 25% then "combustion is instant and awesome fires would rage, destroying all forests". Is there any convincing evidence of this claim? I don't see any mentioned in the book except for a brief statement that "An increase of oxygen of more than 1% to 22% (in a submarine), however, cannot be allowed because of the greatly increased risk of fire it would bring". Sorry, but I am not convinced of this, especially from the author.

Actually, what was said in the book "Oxygen -- The molecule that made the world" by Nick Lane was quite different. In that book the author claimed that oxygen levels of more than 30% (may be as high as 35%) existed in the Carboniferous period, about 300 million years ago, and he provided detailed arguments and evidence why this might be so. The author also pointed out problems in the "experiments" done by Lovelock and his students to "prove" Lovelock's claim that at no point in the history of the Earth was the oxygen level in the atmosphere higher than 25%.

I find Nick Lane's arguments much more convincing, and I am sure Lovelock should have been aware of this work. I would really want to see a reaction from Lovelock to Nick Lane's arguments but unfortunately there is none. He just repeated what he said in his earlier books written during the 1970's. I consider this a flaw.

Also, on P.133, he said "the Sun has increased its heat output by 25% from 3.8 billion years ago" while elsewhere he said "the Sun was about 25% less luminous than now 3.8 billion years ago". I am sure everyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of mathematics knows that these two statements are not the same. The first statement means that the Sun's heat output was 1/1.25 = 80% of present 3.8 billion years ago, while the second statement means that the Sun's heat output was 75% of the present 3.8 billion years ago. Quite a huge difference, I would say. Which is true? Another flaw, albeit a minor one in the context of the book.

Overall, the book is good and beautifully illustrated. But I cannot give it 5 stars because I believe that some of the arguements were not based on sound evidence, like the oxygen problem.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Mother Earth 16 July 2013
By linda speer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I never received this book. I read one of Lovelock's books a long time ago and liked it very much. I am very disappointed that it never came.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Review of Gaia 30 July 2011
By Laura - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book of Gaia is a very interesting theory and if theory holds true the human race may survive afterall.
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