In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, British scientist James Lovelock predicts global warming will lead to a Hot Epoch. Lovelock is best known for formulating the controversial Gaia theory in the 1970s, with Ruth Margulis of the University of Massachusetts, which states that organisms interact with and regulate Earth's surface and atmosphere. We ignore this interaction at our peril.
An “unwilling Cassandra,” he is nevertheless an "an optimistic pessimist" and thinks we will survive the coming Hot Epoch, but predicts climate change will reduce our population from 9 billion to around one billion or less."I don't think nine billion is better than one billion," Lovelock writes. He compares humans to the “first photosynthesisers, which, when they first appeared on the planet, caused enormous damage by releasing oxygen a nasty, poisonous gas.” Oxygen turned out to be beneficial to the life forms that evolved to utilize it, including us, but a global anaerobic ecosystem gave way in the face of this atmospheric change. If simple microbial life forms could effect such a change, why is it hard to believe that humans could do so, too? And we are, unwittingly at first, but many have recognized the danger for some time now, and time is running out.
There are factions at work today trying to convince the public that global warming is a leftwing conspiracy, a liberal hoax. They claim that scientists perpetuate this “myth” to obtain government grants, and point to “independent” scientists (usually funded by the oil industry) who refute climate change science. Dr. Lovelock may be the antidote to these claims, as he is a truly independent scientist. Lovelock, a chemist and inventor by profession and a climate activist, is not beholden to any government, university, or granting agency. Let those determined to bury their heads in the sands of right wing silliness do so. The rest of us, young and old, have work to do. Lovelock's book sets out an important agenda to follow.
©2009 James Lovelock (P)2011 Post Hypnotic Press
"Lovelock's writing has enormous warmth and vitality … we need scientists such as him" (Fiona Harvey, Financial Times)
"Gripping, convincing and indeed terrifying" (Michael McCarthy, Independent)
"Exhilarating … Lovelock is the closest thing we have to an Old Testament prophet" (John Carey, Sunday Times)
This is probably the most important book I've ever listened to. I still have not finished processing all the information and concepts presented by Lovelock. This book should be required listening for every world leader.
I like the new perspective that James Lovelock brings to the topic of global warming. He really makes a great case of focusing on what's truly important.
Simon Vance is amazing. He delivers the words, with so many voices, in such a way as to make me believe that this is exactly how James Lovelock would have read it.
I had to turn this book off several times; it's too powerful to listen in a single sitting.
I have a new perspective on the world and mankind, as a result of this book.
The author should have looked more closely into the Fukushima accident in Japan. As a resident of Japan, I find his rendering of the various accidents that have occurred here as very cavalier and not well-informed. His ever condescending tone is tiresome and detracts from the credibility of his arguments. I would recommend listeners to choose authors who give their audience more credit for intelligence.
I liked his pacing and understanding of the material.
The parts where the author had some personal experience were informative.
"The end of the World?"
Lovelock is a genius, and a maverick. However, I found this a strange mixture of Science, apocalyptic revelation, and quaisi-religious anthropomorphism. At times Prof. Lovelock berates us for anthropomorphising Giaia, yet falls into his own trap by constantly speaking as though Giaia was a person (or even a Goddess) with intentions, feelings and awareness.
However, I was left feeling convinced by his arguments that the computer models of global warming seriously underestimate the rate of heating, and we should start planning for our future on a hotter planet, with many cities flooded and many areas made uninhabitable. For the UK, this means having to be self sufficient in food and energy, and should be building nuclear power stations now, rather than our current short term, "business as usual" delusion that a few renewable energy wind farms will supply all our needs, and life will continue as usual.
This is well read, and thought provoking audiobook, slightly fanciful in places, and almost indulgently apocalyptic, but with a stern message for us to act now to plan seriously for the dramatic climate changes we will undoubtedly witness within the next 50 years.
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