- Series: Oxford Landmark Science
- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Subsequent edition (November 23, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192862189
- ISBN-13: 978-0192862181
- Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.4 x 4.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (Oxford Landmark Science) Subsequent Edition
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About the Author
James Lovelock is an independent scientist, inventor, and author. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974 and in 1990 was awarded the first Amsterdam Prize for the Environment by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. One of his inventions is the electron capture detector, which was important in the development of environmental awareness. It revealed for the first time the ubiquitous distribution of pesticide residues. He co-operated with NASA and some of his inventions were adopted in their programme of planetary exploration.
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In 'Living with Gaia' he discusses two mainstream views: man as Earth's steward and man as Earth's tragedy or even its scourge, but avoids a direct answer by emphasizing the cybernetic qualities of Gaia. All he says is, that man being a part of that system, but also with the ability to influence it significantly, may play a role in it - for better or worse.
In contrast to Lovelock's later books 'The Revenge of Gaia' and 'Vanishing Gaia', which are dire warnings, 'Gaia' is simply the presentation of the original hypothesis, and in a very elegant way at that, to make it accessible to the non-scientist too.
I especially appreciated the last few chapters of the book and Lovelock's ideas about human-biosphere cooperation. As with other Lovelock books I've read, this one has impeccable quality.
And, the style of this book would be something used by a learned English man 30 years back, when it was published, to make his science accessible. Lovelock would have been at that point the kind of guy you'd love to meet at the pub night after night, and have him regale you with his hypotheses, and you'd have a fabulous time. For an impatient reader like me, I found myself skipping through many sections to cut to Lovelock's conclusions. But his conclusions are important and well worth your time if you've never been exposed to them.
In addition to proposing the study of fundamental mechanisms of the Science of the Earth System, he makes us key questions as humanity: Are we another species over the biosphere (most intelligent, capable of choices that suit us), and can we afford to act as if the Earth were ours, because she will always shelter us?, or Are we to assume that our intelligence is part of Gaia, a necessary part, and we must assume a conscious role to know and protect its fundamental mechanisms?
This book opens fundamental questions, especially to future generations.