Thursday, 3 December 2009

Gaia hypothesis.

I can't help thinking that many people pay little attention - or at most lip-service, to the problem of Global Warming. It is so easy to think that as individuals we can do little to counteract it and that while the big industrial nations continue to fill the air with pollution we might as well forget it and say "fiddle" as Nero did when Rome burned.
Many years ago - around 1984 I think - I had reason to go to Chengde in the very North of China. Stepping off the train we were immediately unable to breathe properly because of the heavy pollution. Factory chimneys all around the town were puthering out dark yellow smoke and all the inhabitants were wearing masks. It was a misty, frosty day and all that pollution was at ground level.
China, and many other nations, have made progress since then. Today in "Eureka" magazine there is an interesting article by Ben Miller talking about the Gaia hypothesis (James Lovelock) and I must say that I do agree with a lot of what he says. Gaia is a holistic theory about the ecology of our planet. I shall be interested to hear what you think about the following.
What Miller has to say is that the planet is not in any danger at all from Global Warming. At
6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tonnes our planet has experienced being frozen and being so hot that crocodiles swam at the North Pole. Indeed, it is not the planet that we are concerned about - it is our survival as a species.
He argues that yes, we have managed to get to the top of the food chain. How have we learned to do that? By ganging up on possible rival species both "human" and animal. But what is so special about us he asks. We seem to see ourselves as the supreme beings on Earth and to feel that the whole natural world revolves around us, whereas Gaia argues that we are just one component is a self-sustaining system.
Now, in order to survive as a species, it seems we have to learn to all work together in our common interest. Can you see that ever happening?
And if it doesn't then, as Miller says, eventually we will have what he calls "catastrophe die-off!"
Maybe it would be for the best, he says. Maybe we have gone as far as we can and it is time to hand over to a more intelligent, more highly-developed species who will respect the planet.
We, in planetary terms, are of little importance. Evolution, he says, doesn't care. The planet will survive and we will all become fossil fuel for the next lot of inhabitants to burn.
What do you think to that for an hypothesis?


Heather said...

He could well have something there. I have often thought that Nature knows best and as a species Man thinks he knows everything but has done awful damage to so many areas of the planet. If only people would learn to work with nature instead of trying to control it.

Bovey Belle said...

How I agree with you. We have had global warming and global cooling ever since the beginning of this world. At one time someone mapped the coastline of Antarctica when there was NO ice there. We have had interstadials, and interglacials. We have had the Romans growing grapes in a much warmer Britain than today. There have been walls found in Ireland covered by metres of peat which formed when there were much wetter periods - which made areas such as Dartmoor and other higher regions very marginal areas for farming. From the 16th century until Dickens' time the Thames froze over and they had Frost Fairs.

We can do all we can as individual people and as an individual country, but if the Third World countries won't play ball (and look what Indian/Pakistan''s pollution is doing to the Himalayan glaciers) it is not going to have much effect.

Jinksy said...

Seems quite likely to me...and fossilised is one way to stay around for longer! :)

Titus said...

I enjoyed the article very much. Agree? Ah...
Yes, this planet has existed for billions of years and has sustained life in an astonishing variety of forms for millions. Great extinctions happen, just as (and allied to) significant climatic shifts happen.
Whilst not a climate denier, I personally think that larger forces (solar flares, for one) are at work in the current global warming, but also think that man's emmissions have a part to play.
I don't think there is any possibility of mankind moving itself to the brink of extinction, however: we evolved the brain we have in order to survive best. So when the climatic change occurs, millions might suffer and thousands die, but mankind will adapt and survive.
But if, by our actions, we can save some of the species and habitats that might be lost, or prevent our brothers' and sisters' suffering and death, surely we must?
Radical rethink needed by consumerist society - and every individual makes a difference.

Ranty rant rant!

Rachel Fox said...

This connects with something I was thinking today. I had read yet another horrible '15 year old girl raped in centre of city' and was just feeling sick of human beings and so much of their unnecessary disgusting behaviour. I love some humans very much but sometimes I really think we don't deserve to exist a day longer. Maybe the solution is already in hand.

The end is nigh? Where do we sign?


gleaner said...

Its going to take a big step to tackle the greed and extreme inequality of resources causing these problems - and it is disturbing that we in the wealthier nations expect poorer countries to change when the majority of their populations live in carboard boxes, don't have electricity and have extreme disparities in resources/wealth. Like Rachel I sometimes take a negative view of humans and think there is a major flaw that just cannot be fixed.

PurestGreen said...

I don't have much faith in human beings most of the time. It's like the "me first" impulse is so instilled in us that making money and getting ahead will always come before the long term good of the planet or each other. Sigh. Makes me sad.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Mother Nature has proved over and over that she knows how to cleanse and renew herself. Perhaps the ultimate cleansing would be to eliminate what is most self-centred from the eco-system.

Fine to come to terms with as a mature adult - but I would like my grandchildren to enjoy their lives on this little planet. What 'on earth' is in store for them?

Granny Sue said...

I've often had the same thought.We are the ones who have proclaimed ourselves the most intelligent beings on earth--and yet we scurry to work and back, worry and stress all the time while the dog? He just lays back and lets us do the work and worrying. And the deer live simply and get by. Our lifepsan is longer, but we trample the rest of the world to do that. The earth will continue to spin, with or without us.

FireLight said...

I think the earth was here long before us....we do not own it....and it will be here long after we detroy ourselves.

Thank you for stopping by TKR. I have posted a response to your most recent comment.
Peace be with you!

Jenn Jilks said...

And yet, we must all do our part.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Well, if it is we giraffes who take control (respectfully) of the planet, we will be very kind to all humans! :)

I've just got a book out of the library by Harold Burr, about the electro-magnetic energy fields around all things, in which he talks about the holistic nature of everything in the universe. Not a subject I have read about before, and I'm really interested to see what he has to say. (He was a Lecturer at Yale University for many years and did a lot of research about the energy-fields around plants and trees).

Cloudia said...

It might be true.

Interesting synchronicity, Weaver!
In my post tomorrow I address this in a different "voice."

Thanks for clear writing, thinking, and a whole lot of heart that lives at your blog.

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Crafty Green Poet said...

There have been huge changes in the global climate in the past but the difference this time is that we are at least partially responsible (and not just for the current climate catastrophe but also for the current axtincvtions crisis) and we have the intelligence to know that we should be taking mitigating steps...

Totalfeckineejit said...

Evolution? Meh!

Reader Wil said...

Our planet has experienced extreme cold and extreme heat, but not at such an enormous speed as we are having now. Technology is highly developed, which was not the case in the former ice ages or heat periodes. Global warming goes faster than we all had thought.

Unknown said...

The thing is, we know how to stop global warming, we know how to slow it down and it can be done. Why are we letting this catastrophe happen? That's my question. So much more can be done and governments are not acting to pass laws to make it happen. It's not too late. Heather is right about working with nature. Let's get on board and DO SOMETHING!!! =D

Helen Suzanne said...

perfectly true, in short! Though there is the aspect that if the global temperature rises by 4 more degrees than vast amounts of methane locked under the sea will be released and the whole ecosystem will have no atmosphere to function in... bang goes all our life forms that need oxygen, not just us :((