About Jim Lovelock
(Photo Credit: Sandy Lovelock)
Jim Lovelock is an iconic figure in British science, a prophet whose prophecies are coming true. Lovelock is best known as the 'father' of Gaia theory, which is now established as the most useful way of understanding the dramatic changes happening to the environment of the Earth. Yet, throughout his life - as a student, independent scientist and writer - Lovelock has met with disagreement and disparagement. His drive came from personal belief, curiosity and conviction. He has been right for all his working life and, although it is frightening for us to believe the scenario he describes in The Vanishing Face of Gaia, he is right again.
The Vanishing Face of Gaia is James Lovelock's final word on the terrifying environmental problems we will confront in the twenty-first century. The earth as we know it is vanishing. It is moving inexorably to a new, hot state. The idea that we can "save the planet" by reducing carbon emissions is, Lovelock writes, nothing but a sales pitch. The earth, as it always has done, will save itself. It is up to us to save the human race.As he approaches his 90th birthday, James Lovelock looks forward to what he describes as "a hell of an upgrade", as Richard Branson is sending him into space with Virgin Galactic, so he can, for the first time, see the face of Gaia.
"James Lovelock is one of the greatest scientists of his own generation and has inspired further generations of scientists to see the world as a single system operating in feedback and behaving as a single living organism. His vision of the planet as Gaia and subsequent Gaia Theory are the bedrocks of modern environmental science and his work on the role of CFCs in the depletion of Ozone in the atmosphere was truly ground breaking. There could be no more fitting tribute to the father of Gaia Theory than to let him see Gaia's beauty from space, something he has dreamed of doing all of his life."
- Sir Richard Branson, 8 February 2009
"I feel I cannot possibly disagree with Lovelock, or with the overwhelming body of scientists who attest to the reality of climate change.If Lovelock is only half-right, then we must have an immediate programme to pastoralise the global economy and reduce emissions. The paradox is that he is completely right, there is not a lot we can do, and we might as well enjoy our beautiful planet while we can."
- Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson, 2 February 2006
"Generally, one tries not to boost books or writers who come on to programmes beyond the fact that they're there. James Lovelock, however, has to be an exception... Lovelock deserves to stir up a Galileo-sized political storm."
- Daily Telegraph, Andrew Marr, 1 February 2006.
"He is the most important and original scientific thinker in the world today."
- John Gray, Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics.
"Its conclusion can be best summed up in the words of Dad's Army's Private Frazer: 'We're doomed'."
- The Tablet, Russell Sparks, 3 February 2007.
"Lovelock writes with the lovely naivety of the successful maverick"
- The Sunday Times (Culture), February 28 2007.
"The Revenge of Gaia is a riveting and troubling work by a true 'scientific visionary'."
- The Week, Saturday 4 February 2006.
"Lovelock has done his part by saying what nobody else dares."
- Newsweek, William Underhill, 24 April 2006.
"His appetite for life remains gargantuan."
- Saturday Guardian, Review, Andrew Brown, 31 December 2005.
"He is an unexpected ecological Jeremiah... The man who changed our thinking about the world and its living beings may also have profoundly altered the way it will fight the battle against environmental mayhem."
- The Observer, Energy, Robin McKie, 11 October 2006.
"With Earth in the future looking set to become a dramatically different place, these are radical ideas that we may just have to accept."
- BBC Focus, Jheni Osman, May 2006.
"Unlike science bores, Lovelock talks in the vivid lingo of the science-fictionalist."
- The Week, Saturday, Jasper Gerard, 11 February 2006.
"He is not just scaremongering. He is reflecting the views of a growing body of climatologists."
- The Times, Magnus Linklater, Wednesday 19 April 2006.
"Lovelock is a fascinating figure, and a scientist of long and impeccable degree."
- FT Magazine, Fiona Harvey, January 28/29 2006.
"Lovelock is the most profound scientific thinker of our time, and - though I admit in the present climate this is not saying much - the greatest living Englishman."
- Literary Review, Bryan Appleyard, Wednesday 1 March 2006.
"Lovelock"s vast learning, crisp and energetic writing, and original thinking mean that every disagreement is a prompt to become better informed and clearer thinking about climate change."
- The Independent on Sunday, John Whitfield, 12 February 2006.
"Gaia is becoming as accepted as relativity."
- New Scientist, F. David Peat, Saturday 18 March 2006.
"The most important book ever to be published on the environmental crisis."
- The Independent, John Gray, when? (cf. Yorkshire Post, Michael Meadowcroft, 26 April 2006.)
"This is a hugely serious book. You will rarely read anything more serious. More humane, more humbling, more passionate, more scientific, more spiritual, more important or, in its way, more lyrical - certainly not in 160 pages."
- BBC Focus, Fred Pearce, Wednesday, 1 March 2006.
"Lovelock's fame and notoriety as well as the book's contents ensure it"s already a classic work of science."
- Royal Meteorological Society. Edward Hanna, April 2006.
James Lovelock described his previous book, The Revenge of Gaia, as 'a wake-up call for humanity'. Stark though it was in many respects, in The Vanishing Face of Gaia Lovelock says that even though the weather seems cooler and pollution lessens as the recession bites, the environmental problems we will face in the twenty-first century are even more terrifying than he previously realised. The Arctic and Antarctic ice-caps are melting very quickly, and water shortages and natural disasters are more common occurrences than at any time in recent history. The civilisations of many countries will be jeopardised and life as we know it severely disrupted.
Almost all predictions of the likely rate of climate change have been based on estimates which professional observers in the real worldnow show are consistently underestimating the true rate of change. As a global community we continue to be fixated by conventional 'green' ideas which we believe will help save our world. Lovelock argues that only Gaia theory, which he originated over forty years ago, can really help us understand the crisis fully. The root problem is that there are too many people and animals for the Earth to carry. And there is in fact only one possible procedure which might bring a permanent cure for climate change, but we are unlikely to adopt it.
'Our wish to continue business as usual will probably prevent us from saving ourselves' says Lovelock, so we must adapt as best we can and try to ensure that enough of us survive to allow a more capable species to evolve from us. There could hardly be a more important message for humankind. James Lovelock has been an active and accurate observer of the Earth environment since the 1960s and was the first to find CFCs and other gases accumulating in the air. His Gaia theory provides insight into climate change in the coming century.This is his final warning.
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 and Gaia: The Practical Science of Planetary Medicine, as well as an autobiography, Homage to Gaia. 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.