The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity Paperback – 22 Feb 2007
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"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
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent reading. If you read this James Lovelock is probably preaching to the converted - so buy it and lend it to your friends.Published 11 months ago by martin cooper
Lovelock has recanted from his climate alarmism. Strange that none of the reviewers have acknowledged that critical fact. Johnston, Ian. Read morePublished 19 months ago by FlyTigr
Beautifully written and full of facts, not opinions. Interesting facts worth knowing. Makes our energy options very clear. A bit too clear.Published on 19 April 2014 by Beyoncé
The book explodes the myth of the effort to produce sufficient power without a Nuclear source.With the increase in population
globally, and the consequent need for extra... Read more
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