Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) Paperback – March 17, 1995
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From the Back Cover
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Lovelock hypothesizes that the planet Earth is essentially a living being, whose complex biosphere regulates such things as the chemical makeup of the atmosphere (affecting, in turn, the global climate). He compares the Earth -- with its atmosphere largely comprised of nitrogen and oxygen -- to the carbon-heavy atmospheres of "dead" Venus and at least mostly "dead" Mars.
Since Darwin's time, we've known that the environment causes organisms to evolve. Lovelock argues that the opposite is also true, and he cites many examples to support this idea. Previous mass extinctions, he says, have been the result of calamities (such as asteroids and meteorites) that temporarily threw the biosphere out of control. The current mass extinction event is an anomaly -- an individual species run amok. (Homo sapiens, therefore, are something akin to cancer cells on this giant creature.)
Lovelock's background in chemistry gives him an interesting perspective for the author of a book about ecology. He goes beyond the "this is the food chain" level and delves into the chemical nature of the biosphere and the regulatory effects these chemical changes have on the planet as a whole. Furthermore, Lovelock labels himself a "planetary physician," and urges others to become the same.Read more ›
Is this even possible? To illustrate how it might work, Lovelock postulates a simple model of light and dark colored daisies, called Daisyworld, where populations of daisies increase and decrease according to how much sunlight the planet receives. His argument moves back to the Archean age approximately 3.6 billion years ago where the first bacteria-like rudiments of life appeared. In an explanation which is heavy on the chemistry, and somewhat beyond me, Lovelock explains how our present self-sustaining world balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide used and expelled by plants and animals could develop and adapt to changes in the sun's intensity.
The Ages of Gaia contains a subtle but firm warning that we humans are changing the fabric of life on our planet, and setting the stage for what may well be (for humans and animals of our ilk) a stark uninhabitable world.
Gaia is not a living creature. Gaia is a self regulating habitat that favors denizens that manage to get along harmoniously and hinders those that don't. There are no reasons or theologies given for this behavior. As Ayn Rand might have said: it is the nature of Gaia to be like she is. Gaia is what our senses perceive and what our reason understands. Gaia does not play favorites.
The only chapter that put me to sleep was the one about god and Gaia. Maybe you'll find it interesting. I tried twice to read it but to no avail.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A good concise overview of the history of the planet. Helps to put the global crisis of human civilization in perspective. Read morePublished 4 months ago by ariel pereira
The evidence that the Earth's present state owes so much to photosynthesizing bacteria which gradually captured carbon dioxide is a humbling fact. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Chad M
Everyone should be enlightened about the idea of Gaia, the earth and the life on it are all part of one greater living organism. Pretty cool.Published on September 26, 2009 by OChemdogg
Great book-Lays out the importance of Gaia, the living earth and the complementary efforts of all the living plants and animals on the planet in exercising chemical feed back loops... Read morePublished on April 8, 2009 by John P. Gotthold
Lovelock's adventure into the theory of Gaia is an interesting experience that is worth the read. I found his ideas to be well constructed and factually backed up. Read morePublished on September 10, 2003 by Ben T. Jeffreys