New Words 2012

Review: Gaia — the Earth as a Living Being

Paul Kieniewicz


Saturday 1 September 2012

Original listing

Brander Library Garden, Huntly [Map]

Paul gave an interesting and thought provoking talk on the Gaia theory in the Brander Library garden. That is until rain caused the more than twenty of us to crowd into the small greenhouse, some even on chairs. There he continued his talk unperturbed!

He introduced the talk by saying everyone who has watched David Attenborough's programmes on television must marvel at the abundance and variety of life able to survive on planet earth even in the most inhospitable places like deep under the Antarctic ice. Attenborough and Richard Dawkins believe it is all the result of evolution.

He told us that the sun has become brighter and hotter over the last billion years and yet planet earth's temperature has remained remarkably constant, notwithstanding the ice ages and near extinctions. How can this be? Is it because the earth itself is a living organism with intelligence and even a soul? In the 1970s James Lovelock came up with the Gaia theory that the earth had a self regulating system able to adapt to such phenomena as rising or falling temperatures. This is born out by for example the fact that just as carbon dioxide has increased in the atmosphere as a result of industrialisation, so tiny organisms deep in the oceans that absorb carbon dioxide have greatly increased.

Paul said that we do not understand the earth well enough to start tinkering with the environment to counteract global warming by geo-engineering such as sending sulphuric acid into the atmosphere. Maybe it would be better to let the earth heal itself and prepare to adapt to the likely food production problems caused by climate change.

Here is the link to Paul's webpage and his full text on the subject:

Review by Anne L. Forbes

Promoted by

Huntly Hairst Food and Farming Festival
Brander Library

Supported by

North East Writers


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