We needed to Listen To James Lovelock

greenhouse effect

greenhouse effect

Images via –  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

88 year-old James Lovelock, who introduced the world to the concept of Gaia, has been saying, vociferously for years, that the environment itself would be the biggest headache for humanity in this century, and if recent global weather patterns are anything to go by, the n the dilemma is already worsening. So much so that he genuinely fears for the future of our species and the planet.

This outspoken environmentalist has been warning of the dangers for over half a century, from an old mill in Cornwall where his one-man laboratory is sited. The grim statistic is that lots of his seemingly dire forecasts are now proving to have been unerringly accurate – so that he has gained a deserved reputation in the field of global warming, and the consequences.

It was he that invented a CFC detection device that made clear how big was the hole in the ozone layer, a remarkable achievement in itself, but it was his ground-breaking theory, that the whole planet is one vast organism – Gaia – which today is regarded as the basis for most areas of climate science. In The Revenge of Gaia, the latest of his mind-blowing books on the subject – due out in April – he foresees by changing weather patterns will be so dramatic, within the next forty years, that areas of western Europe will have sunk beneath the rising seas, and the more southerly areas will be hot deserts.

Temperature Comparison

Temperature Comparison

As if this were not dire enough in terms of predictions, Lovelock is unapologetically critical of all the measures currently taken to combat climate change. Why? Because, as he points out, we are NOT nearing the tipping point for massive global change, but in fact have already crested that wave, and are now on a downward slope from which there simply is no escape. The professor says, quite candidly, that all the so-called green initiatives can now do is help us to feel better about ourselves as the abyss before us comes ever closer.

He points out that perhaps, and even this is not a given, if genuinely serious steps had been taken in the mid-20th century, to alter the behaviour of human society generally, then the effects could at least have been slowed right down, but there is no longer time for such action. What needs to be done to make any difference is so unpalatable that, like Lemmings, humanity will press blithely on rather than accept it. It is this intractable stupidity of people that Lovelock is so dismissive of, with the attitude of knowing action must be taken, but not changing lifestyles in any way.

If, as the professor maintains, global warming has gone too far to be stopped, then like it or not, the face of the planet will alter dramatically, and habitable zones will shrink. It becomes inevitable that mass migrations will have to happen, leading to disease outbreaks and famine everywhere. The priority now, for the human race, has to be the simple act of surviving, as a species, to pick up the reins and begin again. But a return to nature is not the whole answer, because technology will have to play a role.

In his truly apocalyptic vision of the world at the end of this century, Lovelock fears that perhaps four-fifths of our species will have been wiped out, because inaction will overtake humanity far faster than they might ever have believed. The challenges ahead are massive, and not ones anybody seems genuinely willing to address, but Lovelock is convinced that there exists a core of humans that really do understand the planet and have the good sense to be able to with Gaia rather than in opposition. This belief gives him, and all of us, some hope, but surely there would be so much more, if only we had started listening 50 years ago.

 diminishing ice sheets

diminishing ice sheets

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One Response

  1. Tony H Leather

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