Monday, March 3, 2008

Gaia author giving up on the planet?

I must confess that this morning I didn't know much about James Lovelock. He is most famous as the author of the Gaia hypothesis - the idea that the entire Earth is a complex super-organism. Since I've always viewed this idea as woolly this did not endear Dr. Lovelock to me. What I've learned today is that he was the first to detect increased levels of CFCs in the atmosphere. Other scientists had to work out the implications of this finding but props to him for developing the technique.

Decca Aitkenhead interviewed Dr Lovelock about his views about human responses to climate change (The Guardian, Saturday March 1 2008).
Dr. Lovelock believes that:
1. Climate change is real
2. Humans have caused much of it
3. It's far too late to do anything about it

He believes that renewable energy is inadequate, recycling is a waste of time and that we had better get used to the idea of synthetic foods and nuclear powered air conditioning.

It's tough to be very confident that world leaders will step up to the plate and switch our planet's climatic course, but I cannot accept that it's all over.

No single solution exists to the climate change problem that we are facing - I think there are a million solutions. I recycle because it's a wasteful not to, I favor adopting different renewable energy strategies for different locations because wind wont work in the doldrums and solar might not be the best option in Seattle. I lobby people to make small changes in their lives not because the carbon saved by recycling a packet of smarties will prevent the world warming by a fraction of one millionth of a degree, but because it focuses people's attention on the problem and allows them to think bigger and support large scale policies to combat climate change.

Perhaps I'm just not quite as fatalistic as an aging, independent scientist. We changed the world before... now we need to change it again.

For the Guardian article with Dr Lovelock's interview by click here

1 comment:

Basil said...
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