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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Way to View the Earth!
I read this book sometime ago and is impacted me significantly as it has with many others. I enjoyed the explanation of the huge organism (Earth) that is self- regulating. I also enjoyed that Lovelock points out that we humans are part of the environment and belong here. We will produce waste.

Having said that, any system can overload. Thus, we need to be...
Published on 25 Aug 2008 by C. Clayton

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, important, but not entirely convincing
It has to be noted, first of all that this book is now 30 years old. Much has changed since it was written and to that end the author has included a new preface which acknowledges this. He also acknowledges that there are some factual errors within the book but that he would rather the original text be preserved as it was originally written, rather than constantly be...
Published on 25 Mar 2011 by S. Meadows


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Way to View the Earth!, 25 Aug 2008
This review is from: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Paperback)
I read this book sometime ago and is impacted me significantly as it has with many others. I enjoyed the explanation of the huge organism (Earth) that is self- regulating. I also enjoyed that Lovelock points out that we humans are part of the environment and belong here. We will produce waste.

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
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Problem with intent, 22 Mar 2006
This review is from: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Paperback)
Firstly I will say this, if you are considering buying this book then do so. If nothing else it will make you think and thats always a worthwhile thing in a publication. That being said I have issues with the text.
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, important, but not entirely convincing, 25 Mar 2011
By 
S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Paperback)
It has to be noted, first of all that this book is now 30 years old. Much has changed since it was written and to that end the author has included a new preface which acknowledges this. He also acknowledges that there are some factual errors within the book but that he would rather the original text be preserved as it was originally written, rather than constantly be revised.

The starting question is this: how could we identify if there is life on another planet? In other words, what are the signatures that distinguish life from non-life? The answer is not that straightforward, though Lovelock, with some acknowledgement given to some other scientists, comes up with a working definition for what characterises that which is living. But what Lovelock then does is to apply these criteria to the whole of planet earth and comes to the startling conclusion that the earth (or at least the biosphere) is a living thing; not just that it contains living things, but rather that it is itself a living entity, which has then been dubbed Gaia, after the greek goddess of the earth.

From here, Lovelock then looks at various aspects of biology and chemistry on earth and seeks evidence for this claim. His central argument is that of homeostasis: that the earth is self-regulating in order to maintain the conditions needed for life.

The book is characterised by two different personalities, so to speak. On the one hand, there is a quite reasonable scientific discourse (mostly focused on chemistry) about the make up and balances within the atmosphere and oceans, while on the other hand there is an impassioned environmental polemic on what mankind has done to harm the planet. While I do disagree, per se, with having these two styles married together, the way it is done seems to take the edge off the level of scientific credulity that Lovelock might have otherwise been afforded. My impression of it was that the scientific overview of feedback systems was immensely interesting, but the overarching Gaia hypothesis was itself unnecessary. Though this book has been hugely influential, particularly within the environmental lobby (rightly, I believe) the weight of scientific evidence (as presented here) for the master narrative is small and yet to be convincing.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Hypothesis in Somewhat Convoluted Form, 27 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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James Lovelock has created a powerful and interesting argument in this book that will keep scientists busy for centuries. He notices that there is an ability for the Earth to maintain relatively constant conditions in temperature, atmosphere, salinity and pH of the oceans, and reductions in pollutants that defies the simple observations of what "should" happen. From this, he concludes that there is a complex of physical, chemical and biological interrelationships that work like a living organism, which he defines as the Gaia Hypothesis. For defining that concept and providing some of the measurements to establish its premises, he deserves a 7 star rating.
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. I was struck by the same observations recently while visiting environmental scientists at the Smithsonian Institution. The basics in many of these areas have yet to be measured and evaluated. This book will point countless generations forward in understanding how our plant maintains its environment that permits life to flourish. Clearly, it is a stallbusting effort to replace "stalled" thinking about the history and future of the Earth. I found the key questions (such as why doesn't the ocean become more saline?) to be irresistible. I think you will, too. Enjoy and think!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great book...., 31 July 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Paperback)
The idea that the planet is a self-balancing system is clearly presented for non-scientists. Fully explained, this model is in fact complementary to other enviromental models rather than contradictory. I think that this book usefully fills a gap between economics, biology and physics, and it is a sobering message that if we do not take sufficient care, we could tip the planet into a new equilibrium (but without the human race).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful and poetic scientific break-through. James Lovelock is a visionary of the highest order., 6 Nov 2007
By 
S. Crawford "lindao" (Lincolnshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Paperback)
It didn't have the direct and dramatic impact of Newton's Principia - a book that radically changed the world, nevertheless James Lovelock's book Gaia - a New Look at Life on Earth, did have a more subtle influence on our world - particularly that of science. In a sense the Gaia Hypothesis prefigured - culturally and symbolically - the evolution of pure science from that classical, mechanistic world view inspired by the uncanny genius of Newton, to a less linear, more holistic awareness of the irreducible relationships (`gestalts') that permeate apparently discreet phenomena. Indeed this kind of more `organic' approach is radically renewing the scope of Science.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendously life-affirming read., 23 May 2010
By 
Mr. Bruce Mcdonald "LazyOaf" (Berkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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After hearing James Lovelock discussing his ideas and his central theme; the Gaia hypothesis, so eloquently on the recent BBC4 series; 'Beautiful Minds', I decided to pursue my interest in the idea with the purchase of this book. I was not disappointed.

This text elucidates in a clear and easy to understand manner the central tenets of Lovelock's 'philosophy', namely that the earth and all life upon and within it represents a single, self regulating system. To me, this idea seems remarkably intuitive and almost logical. However, I think that Lovelock does himself no favours and ,indeed, leaves himself open to attack from evolutionary biologists with the choice of language used in this book. To talk of the purpose of substances produced by life forms brings with it connotations of 'Mother Nature' and her maternal ways that offer an easy route for detractors to criticise what is otherwise an excellent and lucid book.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars easy-to-read; a beginners guide to Gaia, 20 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Paperback)
"Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth" explores the idea that the earth is a self-regulating, homeostatic system. Lovelock discusses the history of life on earth and the impact that all living creatures, from micro-organisms to humans, have had on our ever-changing planet. "Gaia" is clearly written, if a little informal at times, with short concise chapters explaining evidence for the existence of Gaia; the interaction between the biotic and abiotic parts of the earth and its atmosphere necessary to maintain constant gaseous and oceanic conditions to sustain life. Suitable for geographers and scientists alike, "Gaia" is an extension of Darwinian theory. This book challenges conventional theories and throws new light on the causes and consequences of current and topical environmental issues. Highly recommended. I will be reading more by Lovelock in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 12 Jan 2013
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I've always wanted to read James Lovelock's books on Gaia and i wish all of them were available on Kindle
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very interesting theory, 28 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book very much, although I'm still not sure if Gaia is alive. Gaia exhibits local entropy reduction which is a character of life, but so does the galaxy with star formation in the spiral arms. The book is thought provoking and has been updated well in this edition, although the importance of chaos theory to support the Gaia theory is not adequately explored. Deep Simplicity Deep Simplicity: Chaos, Complexity and the Emergence of Life (Penguin Press Science) expanded on this and I would recommend it.
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Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth by James Lovelock (Paperback - 28 Sep 2000)
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