Five years ago, James Lovelock’s “The Revenge of Gaia” issued a terrifying warning: if humankind didn’t radically curtail greenhouse-gas emissions, there would, quite literally, be hell to pay.
His new book out this year, “The Vanishing Face of Gaia,” says it has now become bleakly apparent that we blew our chance.
Researchers from a broad swathe of disciplines are strangely ill at ease when asked about fellow scientist James Lovelock, whose improbable career has just entered its seventh decade.
Chemists, biologists, climatologists and physicists are all quick to reach for superlatives: “brilliant”, “ahead of his time”, a “renaissance scientist” in an age of ultra-specialisation.
This is the man, after all, who in the 1950s invented the machine used to detect the hole in the ozone layer.
And it was he bluntly told NASA that Mars is bereft of life long before the US space agency’s probes confirmed as much.
Then there is Lovelock’s famous Gaia Theory, that Earth is a single, self-regulating super-organism.
At a stroke, it helped redefine how science perceives the relationship between our inanimate planet and the life it hosts — and, say supporters, it may one day leverage a paradigm shift in scientific thinking.
Konrad Steffen, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in Boulder, Colorado, hails Lovelock as “a forerunner, giving notice that we were headed for major change.”
“The data, however, was not easily accepted,” he noted.
But even as the scientific community sings Lovelock’s praises, one waits for the other shoe to drop.
When it comes to climate change — the issue that has consumed Lovelock’s interest more than any other over the last decade — the old man has got it wrong, they say.
At least they hope he is wrong.
Editor’s Note: About two years ago, we sent a copy of The Global Meltdown Domino Effect to Professor James Lovelock. To get your free and recently updated copy, click on the image at the top of the right side bar.