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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rigour and imagination,
In my view Stephan Harding's "Animate Earth" is the best book yet written on Gaia. Gregory Bateson used to talk about the need for rigour and imagination. Harding brings precisely these qualities to the job of writing about the Earth.
Harding has shown in his work at Schumacher College that he is a brilliant teacher -- witty, learned and just wonderfully alive. He invests all of himself in this book. It is Harding's gift to Gaia, a work of love.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a remarkable book,
This book offers a brilliant new approach - at once rigorous, experiential, and intuitive - to the most up-to-date research within planetary ecology. Harding is a close associate of James Lovelock, the polymathic scientist who formulated the Gaia hypothesis - the theory that the chemical composition of the earth's atmosphere, its temperature, the salinity of its oceans, and a host of other variables are continually monitored and modulated by all the earth's organic constituents acting collectively, as a vast planetary metabolism. Originally considered an utterly radical hypothesis when first proposed in the 1970s, Lovelock's insight early on attracted the active support and research interest of one of the most far-seeing American biologists, the audacious microbial biologist Lynn Margulis, and has since, as their evidence mounted, garnered more and more respect from the scientific community. Today most of the theory's tenets have been integrated within the standard account of planetary ecology.
Harding - the staff scientist at Schumacher College - brings a new, deeply participatory approach to the articulation of whole earth science, employing a nuanced sense of philosophy and the history of ideas in order to demonstrate the transformative, paradigm-shattering power of Gaian theory. Throughout his lucid presentation of recent and ongoing empirical research, Harding strives to show the relevance of these remarkable discoveries to our most personal experience of the world immediately around us.
Current evidence is pushing various researchers in the natural sciences away from the through-going objectivism of previous science toward a more animistic acknowledgment that the biosphere in which we're immersed is more a living subject than a determinate object, and hence that their research is less a pursuit of inert and unchanging "facts," than it is an ongoing participation, and dialog, with a vast, spherical sentience whose corporeal complexity we can never completely fathom, and whose actions we can never entirely predict. At every step in his presentation, Harding offers richly imaginative and meditative exercises for the reader to try, as a way to experience these insights viscerally and corporeally - as a way to EMBODY this new understanding of our physiological interdependence (or interbeing) with the animate earth, and so to let this understanding resonate within our daily life.
At such a precarious historical moment as this one we're in, such creative, interdisciplinary visions as Harding's are catalyzing a new and more mature kind of science. They provoke a new kind of intelligence - a rationality informed by our ongoing sensory experience of the world around us, and by the empathic heart beating within our chest - a keen and rigorous intelligence that places itself in service not to humankind alone, but to the wild, more-than-human community of life.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this book is a wonderful introduction to gaia theory!,
I attended several lectures by Stephen at Schumacher College in 2005, it was my first introduction to Gaia theory, I found some of the concepts extremely difficult to grasp and even harder to explain to other people. Animate Earth is easily accessable to any level of reader and breathes life and vision into Lovelock's work. I would reccomend this book to anyone interested in understanding Gaia theory, holistic science and the interconnectivity of all life. I love the way this book weaves together hard science with more intuitive and qualitative understandings of the world!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wild, Complex, Dynamic Being,
This review is from: Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia (Paperback)
"A vild, complex, dynamic being" - that's what Stephan Harding calls Earth in his book Animate Earth. Science, Intuition and Gaia (2006). There he collects the wisdom that as a "Resident Ecologist" he gives out at Schumacher College in Devon, England. In the summer 1999 he made also the Green party in Skåne, Sweden, happy with this wisdom, lecturing on how the earth's ecological system functions as feedback processes within the framework of the sun energy's infinitely complicated cycles on earth. So with carbon's, calcium's and sulphur's, oxygen's and phosphorus' "travels" over land and sea, through atmosphere and underground. Important are the clouds, which with their white upper surface reflect away the sunlight that would have made Earth too hot. Over the sea, the clouds are formed through condensation nucleii from algae. In such ways, life regulates the temperature in its own habitat and is everywhere participating in what happens. Ecology's miracle is that waste products from one being becomes" food" for another; so with oxygen from plants that runs ourselves (and the animals), at the same time as we give away carbon dioxide, which is food for the plants. So the planet is one big symbios of matter and life: Gaia.
In our time Earth is desperate, Harding means; it wobbles between glacial periods and shorter hot periods like a top that is losing its speed. With his square reason man is not skilled to handle this. Instead, we need to feel that we live our lives in symbiotic relationship with a planetary being, so very much bigger than we - something similar to mitochondria in the cell. Gaia certainly is more like a living organism than a dead stone lump, but alive in the ordinary sense she is not, maybe. But Earth is something much bigger and more remarkable than we usually think.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most Important Book of 21st Century,
In my view this is the most important book I have ever read - and I have read many. It is a seminal work, as was Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. Every scientist, every science student and every person who calls him or herself an environmentalist should make it their duty to read this work. It is extraordinarily well researched and profound. Your whole attitude to science, to nature and to life itself will inevitably be changed after reading it, unless you have a totally closed mind. Time is running out for the human race as we blindly destroy our own life support systems. Animate Earth points the way to securing the future of life on earth.
One can only hope that enough people read this book before it's too late.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book! I love it!,
I bought this book for a module for my Geography degree programme. This book was brilliant. Not a chore to read in the slightest. Full of interesting thoughts and facts and never a dull page. The book was neither pushy nor vague about its opinions. Easy to read whether you may be a lecturer, casual scientist, student, or just someone who is interested in the subject. Absolutely brilliant book - I cannot recommend it enough!
Its not many 'university texts' that I would happily start again as soon as I'd finished reading it. I would recommend this to all my friends and family who have even the vaguest interest in the subject.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hugely important book introducing the key idea of our time,
This is a wonderful book that goes much further than just giving a very readable, clear and solid introduction to Gaia Theory. It also introduces a holistic approach to science that integrates rational enquiry with personal experience. I found it completely engaging, up to date and enjoyable to read. I'd thoroughly recommend it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animate Earth,
By A Customer
Real science - not boring but fun & full of enthusiasm. Looking forward to his next book.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for anyone wishing to engage in positive change,
This review is from: Animate Earth (Kindle Edition)
A wonderful book, full of illustrations and deep experience showing how our planet is alive. A fundamental piece for anyone that wishes to engage in positive change in Sustainability, and in the world.
5.0 out of 5 stars Gaia explained by a true communicator,
This book should be read by anyone who cares for the environment and those who are sceptical about humankind's effect on the planet. There is some science which can be quite complex but this should not deter readers. Beautifully written and brilliantly argued.
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Animate Earth: Science, Intuition and Gaia by Stephan Harding (Paperback - 30 Mar 2009)