James Lovelock (and the Gaia hypothesis)
by Prof Ian Enting
Abstract: Through his "Gaia hypothesis" James Lovelock has challenged the thinking
of the developing science of the biological chemical and physical state of the earth as an integrated system.
"Gaia" represents the proposition that the earth acts as a living organism ---
that life is part of a self-regulating system, manipulating the physical
and chemical environment to maintain the planet as a suitable home for life.
This presentation follows the Gaia hypothesis from Lovelock's early work on trace gases and NASA's search for life on Mars. It explores the content of the Gaia hypothesis, including the core question "Is this science or mysticism?" The presentation follows some of the ways in which Lovelock's
thinking has permeated science, influencing many who would regard themselves
as agnostic with respect to the Gaia hypothesis.
Finally, even though the status of the Gaia hypothesis remains contested, it is still worth exploring the implications --- what if Lovelock is right?
--- would this change how we should respond to the threat of human-induced climate change?
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