The Vanishing Face of Gaia

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Reference: Lovelock, James, The Vanishing Face of Gaia A Final Warning, Allen Lane an imprint of Penguin Books, London, England.2009, 178 pages.

Basic Information:

Title: The Vanishing Face of Gaia A Final Warning 

Author: James Lovelock 

Year of publication: London, England in 2009 

Publisher: Penguin Books LTD 

Number of pages: 178 pages

About the author:

James Lovelock was born on July 26, 1919 in Letchworth Garden City in the United Kingdom. He graduated as a chemist from Manchester University in 1941 and in 1948 received a Ph.D. degree in medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  He has been an independent scientist since 1964 and author of more than 200 scientific papers in different disciplines such as Medicine, Biology, Instrument Science and Geophysiology. He is the author of “The GaiaTheory, " which considers the planet Earth as a self-regulated living being. Finally, he received many Honorary Doctorates in sciences from Universities around the world for his leadership to raise awareness related to climate change.

Chapter 1: The journey in Space and Time

The author raised the fact that we have observed for many years important climate changes as a result of our increased pollution and production of carbon dioxide. To address this important problem an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created. However, even with all the cumulative research data of more than 1,000 panels of scientists, we are still not able to predict with precision, the actual changes in climate!

To support his observation, the author reported data published in Science in 2007 revealing that sea level was rising 1.6 times faster and the temperature 1.3 times faster than the predictions included in the IPCC reports. What is more concerning he said, is that we still don’t know if these changes are reversible. If not, and probably not, a potential impact of sea level rising could be the destruction of major cities and/or failure of food or electricity supplies all around the world. Furthermore, he warned that: ‘’our gravest dangers are not from climate change itself, but indirectly from starvation, competition for space and resources, and tribal war.”(20)  He attributed these differences to the predicted theoretical model and the reality observed in the field by the fact that these models do not consider the physiological responses of the ecosystems of lands and oceans to the climate changes, the constant increase in living organism (e.g. human, animals, etc.) on the planet and to the manipulation of the scientists to satisfy the political and industrial leaders. 

He finally, introduced his concept that ‘’the manager of climates is and has always been Gaia, the Earth system of which biosphere is a part.’’(14) In other words, to accept that the Earth is not only a big rock, but ‘’a live Earth.”

Chapter 2: The Climate Forecast

The author specified that he is a scientist influenced by evidence coming from the Earth, and based on Gaia theory. This theory is supported by geophysiology which “sees the organisms of the Earth evolving by Darwinian natural selection in an environment that is the product of their ancestors.’’(31) In other words, it is a dynamic world built by the organisms themselves! 

He felt the need to speak out because of the large difference between the climate changes predictions using theoretical models and what is observed (see figure 1, page 27). He noted that the difference is more important for the rise of the sea level than for the temperature change. However, he suggested that the sea level rise is the best available measure of the heat absorbed by the Earth because it comes from only two main causes:  1) the melting of the glaciers on land and, 2) the expansion of the ocean as it warms. For him, the sea level is the best thermometer which indicates the true global warming of the Earth.

On the other hand...
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