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73 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the magnum opus I was hoping for, 14 Feb 2006
This review is from: The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity (Hardcover)
I was disappointed by Lovelock's latest book for a number of reasons. Although I agree with his diagnosis of the magnitude of the global warming problem, I was horrified by some of his suggested solutions.
The impetus for buying the book ASAP was the pre-publication release of Lovelock's statement that it was already too late to avoid the most severe effects of Global Warming (GW) and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) accumulation in the atmosphere. Coming from someone of Lovelock's stature I felt compelled to buy and read the book immediately for whatever special insights he had to offer.
I didn't find much more, really, than I had already gleaned from the media coverage, and once I got into the book it began to bother me that this book seemed to be written from the chauvinistic perspective of what would be best for England and western (read British) civilization.
His wholesale endorsement of nuclear power plants and rejection of wind turbine power left me temporarily speechless and highly skeptical, and his endorsement of intensive agricultural methods over more sustainable organic farming methods also seemed short-sighted and not terribly well thought out. Lovelock's rejection of wind power appears based on 1) there isn't enough room in the UK for large scale projects, and 2) the best manufacturers these days are German.
As for nuclear power I simply don't have the same level of trust in "Big Science" that Lovelock maintains. I have lived near Hanford and Rocky Flats and we citizens have found out, time and again, what kinds of LIARS they have working there. Lovelock even confesses to the government's 25-year coverup of a fire at the Windscale Nuke, that he and a fellow scientist detected in 1956 by measuring excessive levels of radiative Iodine. He didn't seem terribly bothered by it, nor did he mention that radioactive Iodine causes thyroid cancer. I am also fairly sure the citizens of Ukraine would dispute Lovelock's mortality and morbidity figures from Chernobyl. I currently live in Thailand, and as much as I love the people I would have to say that the Thais are not terribly good at preventive maintenance. I would definitely not trust them with nuclear power plants. Given the choice between installing British designed nukes or German manufactured wind turbines, I would choose the German turbines any day of the week.
Let me end by saying that I first read Gaia in 1980 and thought it was a unique and highly original contribution to our understanding of planetary science. Lovelock didn't seem to have put as much scholarly research into the current book, and he should have made a greater effort given the seriousness of the problem. The Revenge of Gaia seems to be an amalgam of his best ideas rehashed, coupled with the latest findings from the best scientific findings on the subject of GW from Science and Nature. It is even somewhat thin on these details.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Jan 2012 20:54:13 GMT
Enthusiast says:
Your review registered with some misgivings I have with regard to trusting the same old authorities/people with nuclear power.

I haven't read this book yet, and at this time (January 2012), with a newer and seemingly more despairing book by the same author out, I'm undecided as to which, if any, of his I will read.

What seems a major omission from this debate is peak oil, and the possibility or likelihood that it will be the rapidly increasing scarcity of oil which may drastically resolve the GW issue, by causing a major reduction in population, perhaps to somewhere near the pre-oil level of under 1 billion. I have read elsewhere that the increase in population was facilitated by the oil-driven mechanization of agriculture and transport, and more significantly by the fertilizers which are a by-product of the oil industry. This surely suggests that organic is the way to go, at least for those hoping to survive. Does Lovelock tackle this issue, or is he basing his predictions on more-or-less present levels of oil being available throughout the century?

I know some will say read the bloody book and find out. But I'm asking before I buy.
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