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The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity Hardcover – 2 Feb 2006


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; This is a First Edition. edition (2 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713999144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713999143
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 2.1 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 197,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

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Review

"Lovelock will go down in history as the scientist who changed our view of the Earth.... ÝThe Revenge of Gaia is the most important book ever to be published on the environmental crisis." -- John Gray --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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 three books on the subject: Gaia: a new look at life on Earth; The Ages of Gaia; Gaia: the practical science of planetary medicine; and an autobiography, Homage to Gaia. He has received many honorary degrees as well as being made Companion of Honour by the Queen in 2003. He has held posts at numerous universities both in the UK and the US and since 1994 has been an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Gregory on 11 April 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We should salute the (now) 89 -year-old author, James Ephraim Lovelock (Ephraim is Hebrew for fruitful): an independent, dissenting voice in science. Rebelling against reductionist philosophies, he took an inclusive, systems view of the planet, publishing his Gaia Hypothesis in 1970. It took over 30 years for the international scientific community to come round.

Having studied chemistry at Manchester U and received his PhD in medicine at London U, Lovelock was engaged in the 1960s by NASA to find ways to detect life on Mars. He realized that life would influence the atmosphere and designed an instrument to detect trace gases. Thinking about the reason why Mars is so barren and Earth so fruitful, he arrived at his Hypothesis.

In brief the Hypothesis stated that the Earth is not just a rock that happens to have things living on it: it is a complex interacting system of soil, sea, atmosphere and living things that shows a tendency to keep itself stable in a way that supports life. In particular this complex web has acted to hold temperature within a narrow range over hundreds of millions of years even as the sun warms and the planet wobbles in its orbit.

Lovelock calls this system Gaia after the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth and persists in referring to Gaia as a person who acts with intent. Some find this annoying and unscientific. This reader accepts it as poetry and metaphor.

In summary, in his latest book, Lovelock revisits his Hypothesis and argues that:

1. Not only is climate change an impending disaster but an irreversible tipping point may already have been reached
2. The single most important step to take now is a major switch to nuclear power
3.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Technology Actuary on 2 Mar 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was drawn to this book after hearing James Lovelock talking on Start the Week about the climate change we are facing and his proposed solutions.
This is a very good book and well worth reading. Lovelock exposes the full scale of the climate change situation we are facing and tries to bring the many disparate voices of the green movement into one clear direction that at least has a chance of preventing irreversible climate change.
Lovelock doesn't tries to bring in all the different ways in which we damage the planet and unlike many in the green movement doesn't take it as read that traditionally "green" ways of living are necessarility good for the planet. Specifically the misleading scientific results that present traditional "non-green" activities is a poor light.
One of the most interesting points for me was that the human obsession with reducing certain risks (from radiation, chemicals in food etc) to the bare minimum could well be the things that avoid us from saving the climate in which we live.
As Lovelock pointed out on the radio, if not in this book, the opportunities to avert irreversible climate change are rapidly running out and the risks from a nuclear power station are as nothing to the risks from permanent climate change.
Other reviwers have suggested that Lovelock might be looking at this from a UK perspective. I disagree. He's clearly looking from a world view and references he makes to the Devon countryside where he lives are not central to his argument. The people to suffer most from global warming will be some of the poorest in the world. His suggestion about nuclear power is only fair. We use the energy so we should bear the negative consequences of it's generation.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Feb 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book last night and had it finished within a few short hours. This is at the same time a compliment and a complaint. A compliment because it was a very good read and certainly made me want to keep reading. A complaint in that it is a very short book which is light in many areas. The overall Gaia theory is beautiful in its simplicity.
This book lays out how we have pushed the Earth so far and that it may well be too late to save our civilisation, not just in the West but world wide. It summarises the present understanding of Global Warming, previous climate change and where the world is heading now. The Author also delves into the potential solutions and gives some bad news to the proponents of renewable energy. It looks like they just won't be up to the job.
Anyway I highly recomend this book but be aware that it is light in detail.
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62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Dr. J. F. BARKER on 2 May 2006
Format: Hardcover
Gaia, that self-regulating system consisting of the atmosphere, living things and the ecosystems that contain them, the oceans and the underlying rocks, is in danger. Such is the warning given us by James Lovelock.

The regulation works through what are called 'feedback' mechanisms, and in the glossary at the end of the book Lovelock gives an explanatory example of such mechanisms:

If the car we are driving deviates from the intended path, we adjust the wheels to try to cancel the deviation. The power steering amplifies our action (negative feedback). But if the steering mechanism was faulty and it increased the car's deviation from the chosen path, the initial error would be amplified (positive feedback).

The earth remains a suitable place for man and other living organisms through negative feedback. Unfortunately, the balance of Gaia is now being disturbed by positive feedback mechanisms: One example given by Lovelock concerns the melting of snow on land. This snow reflects almost all the sunlight that reaches it and thus helps to keep the world cool. But as the snow melts at the edges, the dark ground that is then at the surface absorbs much of the sunlight and gets warmer. The increase in ground warmth accelerates further snow melting.

Lovelock says that nearly all the processes that affect the climate of the earth are now in positive feedback, and he gives six examples of these processes. Together, these processes are likely to push Gaia quite suddenly from its present equilibrium to an equilibrium at a much hotter state, and this change beyond what Lovelock calls a 'tipping point' may occur soon.
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