If you are unaware of the concept of Gaia, here is the definition from its founder James Lovelock:
“a complex entity involving the Earth’s biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.”
Just take a look at this 90 second video.
Planet earth is amazing.
Planet earth is alive.
Our living planet earth is Gaia.
Before we break this down and look at why we should be more concern with Gaia than with climate change lets first off put things into perspective.
- Planet earth has existed for roughly 4 billions years.
- Life on planet earth has existed for roughly 3.5 billion years.
- 3.5 billion years is an incomprehensibly long time to remain alive in comparison to our tiny human life span of 60 – 100 years. Planet earth or Gaia is very good at what she does.
In order for life to have existed during the last 3.5 billion years Gaia has had to maintain a relatively stable temperature. Essentially this is the temperature required to maintain liquid water. Too hot and the water would boil off, evaporate into space and leave planet earth uninhabitable. Too cold and the water would freeze, leaving planet earth uninhabitable.
Planet earth not only got it right but she has managed to maintain her temperature, consistently, for 3.5 billions years, even though the suns heat output has increase during this time.
Is this sheer coincidence, an amazing fluke or does the presence of life actually create a living planet (Gaia) that helps maintain environmental equilibrium?
In James Lovelocks first book – Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth first published in 1979, he sets out a very convincing hypothesis that planet earth is a living organism and that all the components of life on earth work in harmony together to maintain optimal conditions to sustain life.
In summary, he argues that we must take a holistic view of the earth and that we must acknowledge that all the components of the earth contribute towards maintaining a stable, life sustaining planet (Gaia). This means that we are as dependant on the algae in the oceans as we are on the trees on the land and gases in the atmosphere. Every component plays its part and this living planet or Gaia has become very efficient at maintaining herself.
That is of course until humans learnt to make fire. Until then, if the oxygen content of the atmosphere became too high, the probability of combustion would increase, vegetation would eventually catch fire, which would in turn burn some of the excess oxygen as fuel and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As the vegetation burnt, eventually the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere would return to a level where combustion became less probable (about 21%) and the fires would subside.
Once we learnt to make fire we began to artificially tip the balance of Gaia.
In James Lovelocks more recent book – The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning published in 2009, by which time the Gaia hypothesis had become the Gaia theory, he paints a very bleak picture indeed.
By the mid 20th century we had embraced artificial combustion with a passion. We built power stations, factories, cars, burnt vast amounts of forest land to clear it for agriculture and our evolutionary success meant that we multiplied. We multiplied in such vast numbers that today what we exhale as carbon dioxide and methane gas contribute to approximately 25% of the total carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere every year.
If we stopped burning fossil fuels today, by our shear volume of numbers alone and the fact that we have altered Gaias natural habitat so substantially in order to grow crops and raised live stock, we still wouldn’t be able to stop the inevitable.
The inevitable is global heating (climate change or global warming). It’s going to happen so stop worrying about it.
Worrying doesn’t achieve anything, it just gives you something to do. Rather than worry about what is already going to happen we need to make positive changes to help protect Gaia and to plan for our own continued survival.
Of course it goes without saying that we are not going to stop burning fossil fuels today. We are, at the very least, going to continue business as usual (BAU) and there is a very distinct probability that we will actually increase our use of fossil fuels as developing nations continue their economic development.
If you take the time to read The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning you will be as concerned for the future of Gaia and for the human race as I am.
It’s too late to stop global heating, we passed critical mass and the point of no return before the end of the 20th century. What we should be concerned with now is protecting what remains of Gaia and ensuring that she survives. If we allow Gaia to die we will ultimately kill all life on earth. This is not a joke.
Gaia will heal herself if given the opportunity. She has survived devastation from external threats such as asteroids and internal threats from volcanoes and has sustained life for 3.5 billion years. She fluctuates between periods of glaciation and increased temperatures and has always managed to maintain parts of the earth that are always habitable for life.
The damage is already done and it is inevitable that the temperature will rise by as much as 5 degrees. We are in a holding pattern at the moment. It looks like global heating isn’t having an effect because nothing has significantly changed, yet. We’re all going about as BAU. Well actually things have changed. The polar ice caps are diminishing year on year and sea levels are rising year on year. Once the remainder of the polar ice caps are gone it’s only a matter of time before much of the planet becomes uninhabitable.
Here’s the simple logic:
- Less ice means less white surface area to reflect the suns heat back into the atmosphere.
- Less ice means more dark ocean surface area that absorbs the suns heat and raises the temperature of the oceans, thus melting more ice.
- No ice means no oceanic cooling which means there is no longer anything to stop the temperature of the oceans rising rapidly.
- Warmer oceans means a decrease in life within the oceans such as the tiny algae that naturally capture carbon dioxide and maintain the natural balance of the gases within the atmosphere.
- Now we’re in a bad place.
You may by now be feeling rather angry.
I know I am.
Please don’t shoot me I’m just one of the messengers. I didn’t make this stuff up.
Change is inevitable.
Change is coming
We need to pull our collective heads out of the sand, today, now, immediately and start protecting what little remains of this amazing planet because if Gaia dies, everything, all life on earth dies with her.
What needs to change:
- We need to change our political leaders and replace them with ones who will act in our collective best interests, rather than the interests of industries and profit.
- We need to change our mining and manufacturing industries to stop exploiting and polluting the planets limited resources.
- We need to change our diets to converse what food resources we have and reduce our need for live stock and thus revolutionise the agribusiness industry.
- We need to change our power industries by replacing our existing fossil fuelled power stations with nuclear power stations and to stop building nonsensical wind farms and growing bio-fuels.
- We need to change our views on childbirth and control population density. We only need circa 100,000 million people to survive, if that, and there are currently over 7.1 billion humans on planet earth. Gaia cannot sustain our current level of consumption and civilisations with that number of people.
Most importantly of all, we need to make these changes today, because tomorrow it will be too late and if it’s too late everyone and everything on planet earth will die.
In this video made by Amazon Watch, a girl pleads for change.
If you agree with some or all of the content in this post then please do something to support change. At the very least, like and share this post with as many of your friends on social media as you can. Start looking beyond what we are being told by industry, governments and the media and find out for yourself what’s actually happening to our planet and all life on earth.
- James Lovelock – Scientific Papers
- James Lovelock – Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth | Also available as an audio book from Audible
- James Lovelock – The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth
- James Lovelock – The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back and How We Can Still Save Humanity
- James Lovelock – The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning | Also available as an audio book from Audible
- James Lovelock – A Rough Ride to the Future