The lack of Lovelock

As Stephan Harding, Lovelock’s scientific collaborator at Schumacher Faculty, summarised: “He was the primary to grasp that our planet is a big self-regulating complicated system that has maintained its floor situations inside the slim limits beneficial for all times over huge spans of time due to a mess of feedbacks between residing organisms, rocks, ambiance and waters.”

Lovelock described himself as an intuitive scientist, considering past the slim confines of trigger and impact, and along with his outstanding inventiveness he achieved many extraordinary breakthroughs.


He was additionally motivated by a deep concern that humanity was a profoundly destabilising drive vis-à-vis life on earth, notably relating to our reckless use of fossil fuels. He pointed to the ever-rising CO2 concentrations within the earth ambiance which throughout his lifetime elevated from 290 to 420 ppm.

So, along with being a scientist, he additionally grew to become a campaigner on local weather breakdown. A few of his views didn’t please mainstream environmentalists, notably when he proposed {that a} speedy change to nuclear reactor know-how was important for decarbonising the world’s power system.

The truth that Lovelock was no technophobe grew to become much more evident in his final e book, Novacene: The coming age of hyperintelligence, 2019. He describes this because the epoch following on from the Anthropocene, outlined by the emergence of super-advanced robots, or cyborgs.

He means that these largely autonomous, benevolent cyborgs would need to defend Gaia in their very own self-interest as a result of they’d finally rely upon its wellbeing for their very own existence. This optimistic proposition, of an rising ‘IT Gaia’, has left many individuals baffled.

So will Gaia be alive and kicking within the aftermath of the Anthropocene with its pervasive eco-toxic legacy? Up to now, human motion exhibits little concern about assuring the earth’s  ecological stability, regardless of all of the proof we now have gleaned through satellites and different subtle probes.   


Lovelock’s work has triggered vigorous responses from individuals involved about the way forward for life on earth, and a few of these could also be moderately shocking.

When in search of photos of Gaia on the web – comparable to drawings, work and sculptures by many various artists – she (and it’s virtually all the time a she) seems primarily as a moderately romantic, new-age ‘earth goddess’ moderately than a high-tech ‘IT Gaia’.

As our relationship with nature is turning into ever extra precarious, we appear to have a profound craving to see nature entire and joyful, even when we’re doing little to guarantee this. Someplace in these photos would be the craving that Lovelock himself felt when he selected the world ‘Gaia’, derived from Greek mythology, to explain his daring, new scientific principle.

Lovelock appealed to science in addition to sentiment. And whereas he might have frowned upon a number of the eco-cultish visible photos that developed round his work, he may additionally have discovered a few of them fairly amusing.

The James I knew was a person with an amazing sense of humour and an enormous coronary heart, in addition to a really outstanding, creative mind. He might have handed on now, however the affect of his profound intuitions will probably be felt for a very long time to return.   

This Creator

Professor Herbert Girardet is a co-founder of the World Future Council, and a member of The Membership of Rome. His most up-to-date e book is Creating Regenerative Cities (Routledge). Mr Girardet can also be trustee on the Resurgence Belief, which owns and publishes The Ecologist.



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