Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Gaia Hypothesis - Lovelock and others were right all those years ago!

The Gaia Hypothesis: "The ancient Greeks called their Earth goddess Ge or Gaia. Gaia embodies the idea of a Mother Earth, the source of the living and non-living entities that make up the Earth. Like Kali, Gaia was gentle, feminine and nurturing, but also ruthlessly cruel to any who crossed her. Note that the prefix 'ge' in the words geology and geography is taken from the Greek root for Earth.
James Lovelock has taken the idea of Mother Earth one step further and given it a modern scientific twist. (Are our modern Mother Earth 'hypotheses' any more refined than ancient Mother Earth myths?). Lovelock defines Gaia 'as a complex entity involving the Earth's biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and soil; the totality constituting a feedback or cybernetic system which seeks an optimal physical and chemical environment for life on this planet.' Through Gaia, the Earth sustains a kind of homeostasis, the maintenance of relatively constant conditions.
The truly startling component of the Gaia hypothesis is the idea that the Earth is a single living entity. This idea is certainly not new. James Hutton (1726-1797), the father of geology, once described the Earth as a kind of superorganism. And right before Lovelock, Lewis Thomas, a medical doctor and skilled writer, penned these words in his famous collection of essays, The Lives of a Cell:
Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the earth, catching the breath, is that it is alive. The photographs show the dry, pounded surface of the moon in the foreground, dry as an old bone. Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming, membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos. If you could look long enough, you would see the swirling of the great drifts of white cloud, covering and uncovering the half-hidden masses of"

Well the Tipping point is arriving:

Tim Flannery and his writings deserve a lot of credit for that:

If your interested you might want to check out the CSR and Sustainability links I posted last month under "sustainable advantage".


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