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Celebrities drive hybrids, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, and supermarkets carry no end of so-called “green” products. And yet the environmental crisis is only getting worse. In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, the eminent scientist James Lovelock argues that the earth is lurching ever closer to a permanent “hot state” – and much more quickly than most specialists think. ThCelebrities drive hybrids, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize, and supermarkets carry no end of so-called “green” products. And yet the environmental crisis is only getting worse. In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, the eminent scientist James Lovelock argues that the earth is lurching ever closer to a permanent “hot state” – and much more quickly than most specialists think. There is nothing humans can do to reverse the process; the planet is simply too overpopulated to halt its own destruction by greenhouse gases.In order to survive, mankind must start preparing now for life on a radically changed planet. The meliorist approach outlined in the Kyoto Treaty must be abandoned in favor of nuclear energy and aggressive agricultural development on the small areas of earth that will remain arable.A reluctant jeremiad from one of the environmental movement’s elder statesmen, The Vanishing Face of Gaia offers an essential wake-up call for the human race.  ...

Title : The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning
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ISBN : 9780465015498
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
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The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning Reviews

  • Gordon
    2018-12-21 20:42

    James Lovelock writes very scary books. Since the 1960’s, he has been warning that we are abusing the planet and that we do so at our peril. Now, at the age of 90, this British scientist has written what is likely to be his last book, with ominous sub-title of “A Final Warning”.Lovelock believes that our current population of nearly seven billion is completely unsustainable, and that we are about to see a catastrophic plunge in our numbers, likely to something under one billion. In fact, he says that he thinks the long-term stable population level may be on the order of just 100 million. This is about as profoundly pessimistic a vision as I have heard of from any environmental writer. It’s Malthus on steroids. But, it is the viewpoint of a scientist who has been studying the question for many decades. Lovelock’s name and reputation will be forever linked to the Gaia hypothesis. In brief, he thinks of the planet as alive. This was considered a radical notion in the 1960’s, and depending on how it is stated, might still be considered radical today. In reality, I think he is really stating that the Earth is a living system, where both geo-chemical and biological processes interact to create the environment that regulates itself to make life possible. Since life has existed on the planet for three billion years, the Gaia theory seems very likely true. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t likely be here. And as for the interaction of biological and geo-chemical processes, the evidence of climate change shows many examples of how it works. A dramatic example: when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991 and put hundreds of tons of sunlight-blocking particulates in the air, the climate cooled for years afterwards, with significant effects on many species and ecosystems.From this model of how Earth works, Lovelock proceeds to the observation that carbon levels in the atmosphere are rising rapidly and inexorably, and that there is no evidence that the many peoples of this planet have the emotional desire or political will to do anything about it in time to prevent disaster. Result: the planet warms by several degrees centigrade, the oceans acidify, the waters rise, the land dries out, a large proportion of species vanish forever, crop failures become widespread, and humans die in droves. He does not see this scenario as inevitable, but highly likely. Pretty bleak stuff.Not only does he see dramatic global heating as likely, he also thinks it will come upon us much more suddenly than the IPCC models predict. Climate, he says, is subject to tipping point events that cause dramatic swings in temperature in a short period of time. We don’t know what those tipping points are, but the evidence strongly points to their existence. It could be a sudden change such as a die-off in ocean plankton, a major change in ocean currents, the rapid melting of Arctic permafrost, or any of a number of other hard-to-predict events. Climate follows a fickle and decidedly non-linear pattern. A classic example is the effect of the melting of the Arctic icecap: today, the highly reflective (high albedo) surface of the ice serves to reflect most solar energy back into space; but as the planet warms and the ice changes to seawater, its darker (low albedo) surface mostly absorbs that solar thermal energy, acting therefore as a de-stabilizing positive feedback loop that causes an even more rapid rise in global temperature. Already, the 2007 climate forecasts of the IPCC are looking too rosy, with rates of sea ice melting, glacier retreat, and seawater temperature rise all increasing faster than predicted. It seems we may be moving quickly to a new steady-state climate equilibrium, but at a much hotter temperature than today. How hot? Lovelock says the range of outcomes is large, but could be five to nine degrees centigrade warmer. Either end of this range would be disastrous.How do we avoid this disaster? There are a few possibilities, but the two that he highlights are:• Mass adoption of nuclear energy• Planetary scale geo-engineering (to block sunlight, increase carbon dioxide sinking and so on)The other choice, assuming Lovelock’s dire scenario is right, is for us to move to those places on Earth that will be least affected by global heating. These include high latitude islands such as the British Isles, New Zealand, Tasmania, Japan – as long as they’re not flooded. They also include northern locations such as Canada, Scandinavia, Siberia and Alaska. Lastly, you can head for the mountains, as long as they’re high enough to stay cool and moist. None of this bodes very well for the most densely populated parts of the planet, such as India, China, Bangladesh, Africa and much of Europe. I think this says that the already grim real estate market in Florida -- a hot and low-lying state -- is looking like a worse and worse investment.Is Lovelock right? I don’t know, but the worrisome thing is that his thesis is plausible. I hope his vision of the future is a worst case scenario, but sometimes worst case scenarios actually materialize. So, start preparing for the possibility of a hotter and drier world – and hope that the technology to save us moves faster than the technology that may destroy us.

  • Justin
    2019-01-13 18:52

    The Vanishing Face of Gaia is my first exposure to James Lovelock’s work and is my first in-depth reading of a work about Gaia theory, the idea that the Earth is a self-regulating organism. Environmentalists and New Age movements speak of the earth being alive and this perspective is often lumped with Gaia theory to discredit the concept. The origination of Gaia in the 1960’s didn’t win any skeptics over either. Sadly, mainstream science has sidelined Lovelock’s ideas for the last 30 years, gaining acceptance only recently as predictions from the theory have been proven true time after time. In fact, 8 out of the ten major predictions (table of predictions on p.177) of Gaia theory have been proven or generally accepted, including:1. Oxygen has not varied by more than 5% from 21% for the past 200 million years (confirmed through studying ice-core and sedimentary analysis)2. Boreal and tropical forests are part of global climate regulation (generally accepted)3. The biological transfer of selenium from the ocean to the land as dimethly selenide (confirmed through direct measurements)4. Climate regulation through cloud albedo control linked to algal gas emissions (many tests indicate high probability, pollution interferes)That’s a much better hit rate than string theory, an idea receiving magnitudes of greater funding. Unfortunately the decades of widespread skepticism has prevented many leading bodies of science and policy groups to ignore the dire implications of a living Earth, most specifically in relation to climate.Lovelock was the first scientist to invent instrumentation that could accurately demonstrate the accumulation of CFCs in the atmosphere, leading to international action on the hole in the ozone layer. And his work on atmospheric, geological and ecological sciences led him to become the first researcher to link the fields, understanding that the earth’s life regulates the atmosphere, and that the earth’s atmosphere regulates life. How is this so? The original Daisyworld model created by Lovelock (although seemingly common sense to us now but revolutionary for its time) was a convincing demonstration,Years of added complexity later, Daisyworld still stands up as an accurate model of reality and the most definitive link between climate and biology. Unlike the IPCC projections of a gradual climate change, trending towards warmer temperatures over a long period of time, is not in agreement with historical models of major changes to our planet’s climate. Massive leaps are common as demonstrated by several graphs in the book. Disturbingly, the coldest years are prior to the major warming years, giving a false sense of security. Anthony Watts, through his blog, provides quality commentary on scientific information that disputes the IPCC climate change models, however Anthony doubts that global warming is occurring. Lovelock shares similar skepticism but provides evidence that the IPCC models are not severe enough in their projections of the serious lifestyle changes we’ll need to make to mitigate a changing climate. Scientists have held up the progress of the world for a long time, with their Cartesian deterministic views, perhaps the eminence of a scientist is measured by the length of time he holds up progress. Lovelock quotes Ogden Nash to demonstrate,‘I give you now Professor Twist,A conscientious scientist,Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”And sent him off to distant jungles.Camped on a tropic riverside,One day he missed his loving bride.She had, the guide informed him later,Been eaten by an alligator.Professor Twist could not but smile.‘You mean,’he said, ‘a crocodile.’Lovelock’s perspective is credible and valuable, disputing many claims of the environmental movement, leading me to question some of my own approaches. For one, Lovelock states that nuclear fission is our only hope to avoid poverty and CO2 accumulation. Unfortunately I think we’ve missed the boat on this because the US couldn’t build the political will to dedicate $700 billion dollars for a secure future. Why nuclear? A fission plant has no emissions, other than water vapor, while in operation. Nuclear waste fades away after 600 years. The yearly output of a 1,000MW station is enough to fill a medium sized car. Compared with the ash from coal that no one seems to think about, the CO2 emitted, or the manufacturing that goes into transporting a wind turbine/PV panel the entire process of nuclear fission energy is by far the cleanest. The issue of nuclear waste is no different than dealing with the issue of defunct PV panels or wind turbine components, only the nuclear waste is much lower in volume while needing greater attention and security. Lovelock goes on to give some excellent examples of how nuclear energy is mis-represented, with 27 people having lost their lives in the history of nuclear power accidents, at Chernobyl. Modern nuclear plants include passive control systems, in the event of a failure the plant would simply shut down.How does the death toll measure up? On December 3rd, 1984 a pesticide plant accident in Bhopal, India instantly killed 3,800 when a cloud of methyl isocyanate gas leaked into the night air. (And many more in the following weeks.) Yes, nuclear energy isn’t perfect but it is as close to perfect as we can get.Why not renewables? Lovelock argues that the focus on “green” energy is propagated by those seeking to drive new financial bubbles, continuing the manufacturing status quo, and doing little to actually mitigate climate impacts. We always idealize the wind turbine but forget that a combustion turbine has to be run on-site at a wind farm to keep the frequency of the turbines regulated for use on an electric grid. This simple fact has led some studies to conclude that wind farms are greater contributors to CO2 emissions than a coal plant, with wind farms emitting more than 840 pounds of CO2 per MWh vs 8.8 for nuclear power. Photovoltaics are better, but land requirements are devastating, 8 acres per megawatt. Whereas a few hundred acres can house a 2,500MW nuclear plant. We need that land for farming and for return to Gaia so that the earth can do what it does best, self regulate. Where I significantly diverge from Lovelock is through is views on farming. On p. 134 of the book he details how synthesized food may be our only hope. If it is count me out. Real food can’t be substituted for and the nutrient model of eating has been proven as flawed.This book is full of interesting insights and pessimism (or realism?) on how screwed we are. The basis of Lovelock’s argument, and reason for writing the book, is that we’ve outgrown the Earth as a species. Humans must learn to view themselves as equals in the scheme of ecology, not as a domineering species. The massive population we now support is subsidized at the expense of slowly renewing resources like coal and oil and at the cost of a damaged biosphere. As we exceed Gaia’s limits, the climate will adjust to fix the problem. This doesn’t mean the end of humanity but a severe readjustment to population centers and population numbers. James Lovelock has convinced me of this through his analysis of Gaia theory applied to the Earth. Could we avoid massive global warming? Yes. An unexpected minimum of sunspots like we are currently experiencing (see the note below). Massive volcanic eruptions. Successful geoengineering efforts(although highly unlikely, as Lovelock states). These could all bring an end to global warming. But they are highly unlikely. Our only plan as a species should be to adapt and realize our intelligence as human beings. Only then can we ensure our duty to survive and to carry on the legacy of the Earth. The relentless critique of the “green movement” and of environmentalism, a field many credit Lovelock for starting, was cause enough for me to find this book valuable. But the scientific discussion within is of far greater importance as we enter a turbulent time in the existence of the human species. This is a challenging read for the climate change skeptics and the climate change evangelists alike.Note/Rampant Speculation: The current sunspot minimum can’t be explained by scientists and has been primarily responsible for much of the cold rainy weather my home area this spring, as well as record snows/cold elsewhere. If this is the start of a new Maunder Minimum serious questions have to be asked about the link between solar system bodies. Do feedback loops exist between the Sun and the Earth? Amazingly convenient that as the global temperature trends upward the Sun suddenly makes things cooler. Perhaps we are all linked to much greater things than we currently understand.

  • William Thorsen
    2018-12-27 20:52

    Rating: 4½ out of 5In one of the most striking images from the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore mounts a scissor lift to demonstrate the dizzying scale of the global warming trend. That scary chart showed, as no table of figures could, the sheer magnitude of the problem we face.Awareness of climate change has increased since then, and “cap and trade”, “carbon footprint”, and even “carbon capture and sequestration” have entered the lawmaker’s lexicon. But the average citizen has most likely forgotten the frightening temperature forecast, and now has a vague notion that governments are beginning to do something—that while we may not be doing all we can (because the economy has to take priority, right?), “sustainable targets” have been set, and the nations of the world will (eventually) get around to meeting them.It is an encouraging, even redemptive, vision: Humanity will abandon its intemperate ways, sober up, and—through ingenuity and perseverance—atone for its misdeeds.James Lovelock is here to tell us it ain’t so, and we’d better get ready for the brutal truth. Writing in his nineties, in the twilight of a lifetime devoted to environmental science, Lovelock has the luxury of speaking frankly, with nothing to gain by spinning his research or sugarcoating the facts. In The Vanishing Face of Gaia he takes a hardheaded look at the evidence and delivers the verdict: Climate change is real, effectively irreversible, and likely to be catastrophic. The best we can probably hope for is to slow the rate of change and start preparing for life on a hotter Earth. The subtitle of his book is both apt and chilling: “A Final Warning”.It is a book accessible to anyone. Lovelock writes with clarity and conviction, a vigorous prose style, and a useful reliance on analogies. Mixing personal observation, history, and a smattering of science, he explains how we got ourselves into this mess (innocently at first) and shows us where we’re very probably headed.Malthus was rightYes, our addiction to fossil fuels is a problem. But the real problem is that there are simply too many of us.If there were only 100 million of us on the Earth we could do almost anything we liked without harm. At 7 billion I doubt if anything sustainable is possible or will significantly reduce fossil-fuel combustion; by significantly I mean enough to halt global heating.Even if we were to abandon all activity apart from eating and breathing, it wouldn’t be enough:did you know that the exhalations of breath and other gaseous emissions by the nearly 7 billion people on Earth, their pets, and their livestock are responsible for 23% of all greenhouse gas emissions?The right number of humans, he says, is around 100 million, and only if those humans live as gatherers (optimally, vegans) rather than hunters. “Were we hunters, carnivorous top predators, it is unlikely that even a fertile Earth could carry more than 10 million of us.”The claim is wholly unsubstantiated, but one can easily agree that 7 billion is far too many.Impending disasterThe Earth’s climate is a complex, nonlinear system, explains Lovelock, and we should not be fooled by the current slow and steady rate of global warming:it is useful to compare the Earth with an iced drink. You will have noticed that the drink stays cold until the last of the ice melts, and so to some extent it is with the Earth. A great deal of the heat of global heating has gone into warming that huge lump of water, the ocean, and into melting ice.If he is right, we have a small window of time—a generation or two, maybe three—before the global climate reaches a tipping point and enters an irreversible “hot” phase. When that happens, vast regions of the Earth will become uninhabitable. The greatest harm will comefrom prolonged and unremitting drought. According to the forecasts (IPCC report from Working Group II, 2007) many parts of the world will experience such a lack of water by 2030.Saharan conditions will extend into southern Europe, as they are experienced in Australia and Africa. … When we look at projected future climates, we see that much of the continental areas will become barren because of drought. This will have appalling consequences for already overcrowded nations like China, India, and parts of Africa.It does not take a scientist to predict the consequences. “Climate refugees” will clamour to migrate to the world’s remaining safe havens: northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia, high mountainous regions, and some island nations such as Japan, Tasmania, New Zealand, and the British Isles.Our gravest dangers are not from climate change itself, but indirectly from starvation, competition for space and resources, and war.Ready the lifeboatsAnd what can we do to avoid this fate? Lovelock’s answer is sobering: Not much. We suffer from a global tragedy of the commons, to which the only effective solution—a radical reduction in the global population—is unthinkable. Efforts to control climate change will help, but they will only delay the day of reckoning. And so far our efforts have been laughably ineffective. The world continues to engage in “business as usual”.Lovelock convincingly argues that we should embrace nuclear power, as the only proven technology we have for generating massive quantities of electricity. Solar thermal, the cleanest energy source, also shows promise. But pinning our hopes on wind or solar voltaic energy is “absurd”. He is especially scornful of wind energy:Europe’s massive use of wind as a supplement to baseload electricity will probably be remembered as one of the great follies of the 21st century.He also argues that we should prepare to use geoengineering to cool the planet—not because geoengineering techniques (such as releasing sulfuric acid into the atmosphere to block sunlight or seeding the oceans with iron filings to promote the growth of carbon-consuming algae) are without risk, but simply to buy time.Beyond that, all we can do is ready the “lifeboats” (the habitable zones in Earth’s hotter climate) and decide who will be allowed refuge in them.GaiaIronically, the weakest element of the book is the "Gaia hypothesis" for which Lovelock is best known. This cherished belief—essentially, that the Earth is a living organism that regulates itself—seems to me a needless distraction from Lovelock’s scientific arguments. But he is ardently wedded to the notion, and returns to it again and again (and again and again).This is unfortunate, because Lovelock’s fixation detracts, rather than adds, to our understanding of climate change. Yes, the Earth is a complex interacting system. But it is an “organism” only if we redefine that word—and by such an expanded definition that the ocean, a forest, a town, and even my house are also “organisms”. It is a metaphor that Lovelock has taken to heart, and taken too far.One might easily believe that it is Gaia, rather than humanity, who is foremost in his affections. At one point he likens humanity to a virus:We became the Earth’s infection a long and uncertain time ago when we first used fire and tools purposefully. But it was not until about 200 years ago that the long incubation period ended and the Industrial Revolution began; then the infection of the Earth became irreversible.And he even has a name for this disease:Individuals occasionally suffer a disease called polycythaemia, an overpopulation of red blood cells. By analogy, Gaia’s illness could be called polyanthroponemia, where humans overpopulate until they do more harm than good.At times, his fondness for Gaia leads him into outright kookiness:Let us look ahead to the time when Gaia is a truly sentient planet through the merging with her of our descendants.As a planetary intelligence we have already shown Gaia her face from space and let her see how truly beautiful she is compared with her dead siblings Mars and Venus.… from our descendants could evolve the wiser species that could live even closer in Gaia and perhaps make her the first citizen of our galaxy.Ignore the Gaia hypothesis. The book is better without it.Goodbye, and Good LuckIs it possible to dismiss Lovelock's ideas about Gaia and still accept his other arguments? It is. He presents a convincing case that the Earth will become a hotter, far less hospitable place. It is a gloomy outlook, in which perhaps only three causes for optimism can be glimpsed:First, Lovelock might be wrong, and it will turn out that the Earth can continue to become incrementally warmer without a sudden “jump” to a greater heat.Second, we might find a way not only to reduce carbon emissions, but to capture more carbon from the atmosphere than we are adding.Finally (to grasp at straws), even if Lovelock’s direst predictions come true, life on Earth will continue. Humanity will survive, albeit in diminished numbers and after much suffering.In his review of An Inconvenient Truth, Roger Ebert included the following heartfelt message:In 39 years, I have never written these words in a movie review, but here they are: You owe it to yourself to see this film. If you do not, and you have grandchildren, you should explain to them why you decided not to.The Vanishing Face of Gaia deserves similar respect. You owe it to yourself to read this book, or a book like it. When the world gets hotter, you won’t be able to say you weren’t warned.

  • Dan
    2019-01-02 19:38

    This is well written, if confused book. I find the author's arguments twisted in a strange way, but there is a certain logic to them. James Lovelock (eminent scientist who championed Gaia Theory), certainly makes a good case that we are on a path to destruction, but at the same time he derides environmentalism, once even to the point of endorsing the use of DDT and the use of other harmful pesticides. On the one hand he says that preserving Gaia (the planet as an Eco-sphere), with or without the continuation of humans as a species, should be our primary focus. But, he says, since we are part of the system, neither superior nor outside of it, everything we do, from industry to deforestation, is "natural". He is an advocate of nuclear power because, he says, it is the cleanest, safest energy source we have - and most notably, because we don't have any time left for alternative energy. He almost had me on that argument when he was discussing the amount of pollution and the number of fatalities that are associated with other types of energy industries. If it were not for the bitterness I felt coming from him toward environmentalism and environmentalists, I might have overlooked some of the inconsistency in light of perceived good intention. I think where the logic fails is that he gives no answer as to why, or method to ameliorate, what inevitably becomes rampant abuse of what he considers "good" practices that turns them into destructive forces. I think his pessimism (at least in this book)is probably more realistic than most authors on this subject. He does not hold out much hope that the human species will remain viable on planet earth, but on the other hand sees "Gaia" as a self regulating system which will either push us off the planet or not. Do I detect a small amount of misanthropy mixed with this anthropomorphism? I think so, but as they say, it takes one to know one. his most compelling argument is that there are just too many people, a sentiment I agree with. The planet cannot support us in the numbers we are now, much less in the numbers we are steadily, if no longer exponentially ballooning into. I enjoyed the book. I did not agree with most of his "solutions" to the emerging world, but he clearly sees that enormous challenges lie just ahead.

  • Terry Tsurigi
    2019-01-13 21:54

    Lovelock convinced me that a holistic approach towards earth science is preferable to the narrow, reductive views held by many of the established scientists who rely on models that only account for factors within their areas of study. I was also somewhat skeptical about the net benefits of such "green" energy sources like biofuels, wind power, and solar cells before reading this book, but Lovelock pushed me firmly into the enemy camp. Too many bandwagon enthusiasts fail to calculate the overall effects of these huge industrial initiatives. When you add the manufacturing, transportation, land use, and other negative factors involved, they have an overall negative impact on the environment and global warming. His contrarian viewpoints on nuclear power also might be worth further study. And the more I read about global warming and overpopulation, the more convinced I am that geoengineering is the only hope, although a slim one, for civilization to avoid a huge collapse within the next century or so. However, I think Lovelock could have written a more concise and clear argument. The last couple of chapters especially were so messy and full of meandering personal anecdotes that I'm still not sure exactly what he was advocating. He may be promoting a scary totalitarian future in which governments in favorable climatic regions like the British Isles, Canada, and New Zealand reject democracy and impose mandatory nuclear energy, high-density living, land use control, birth control, genetically engineered foods grown in vats, and a merit/fitness system for admitting a small fraction of the billions of draught and famine refugees that will clamoring to escape to their oases. But it's hard to say because he doesn't clearly describe his solution. Maybe he was afraid of the backlash if he was too direct.

  • Johanna
    2018-12-27 17:45

    +:+ Síkra száll az atomenergia démonizálása ellen, yaaaaay!+ "Bolygómérnöki" ötletek a klímaváltozás megállítására, a kvótarendszer meg a nagyonzöld szélturbinák helyett.+ Alapvető jó szándék.-:- Nekem ez az egész Gaia-hipotézis sántít. Mivel nem vagyok szakértő, csak intuitív alapon sántít, de akkor is.- Lovelock csapongó, naiv sztorizgatásai.- Nagy-Britannia, mint a világ közepe és a klímamenekültek mentsvára, amit majd megkímél a klímaváltozás. Aha.

  • Dorotea
    2019-01-09 16:55

    The book is 80% narrative about the author's life and 20% science. If it were the other way around I would have given it five stars.

  • Pete daPixie
    2019-01-13 17:34

    Now in his 90's, is this to be the final book of his Gaia series? 'The Vanishing Face of Gaia-A Final Warning', published in 2009, is as stark as the title suggests. Just last Saturday, I was doing my Greenpeace activist duty, and putting stickers on tins of tuna in local supermarkets. Even under the noses of staff members and customers, as we stuck Greenpeace labels declaring 'This product kills more than tuna', we were completely ignored. Maybe the staff and customers of Asda and Morrisons have all read Professor Lovelock's books and know that all this 'new age' green action stuff is just completely futile, and far too late to prevent the inevitable collapse of life as we know it.Lovelock batters everyone from our 'business as usual' governments, the IPCC, the green agenda, the scientific community etc. Who all fail to see that Gaia is already rapidly moving towards its apocalyptic state of global warming.Too many human beans on this consumer materialist ship that is listing over to port. Maybe, if we man the davits NOW, some communities can survive in lifeboat states, but most are to go down with the ship. Women and children first? No chance. I'm sure that any lifeboat will be fully manned by the captain and his scrambled egg attired cronies of the officer class.Och we're all doomed Captain Mainwaring!

  • James
    2018-12-24 20:43

    I give you Lovelock's unflinching and horrifying assessment of the climate crisis, and his closing image in his final chapter of his last book--his final warning that the planet we dwell upon will heat up far faster than most have imagined--with only a few inhabitable oases left to offer any form of refuge to what few survivors will remain:"Sometime later in this century the survivors may reach a small harbor and dismount from their camels. Moored there they may see a small wooden ship scratching its side as it moves with the ocean's gentle swell against the rough harbor wall. A steady, cooler breeze promises a fair start for the next hazardous part of the journey northwards. The captain says nothing as the survivors board the vessel, but he knows that the near-unbearable rigor of the desert has selected them, the strong in mind and body, whose fitness pays the price of the voyage."

  • Roger
    2019-01-04 20:30

    This is the first book by Lovelock that I've read. I enjoyed it and was maddened by it in equal measure- Lovelock has a wonderfully clear vision of what is and is not possible to accomplish vis-a-vis climate change, with an admirable focus on adaptation as opposed to remediation, but I suppose his shrugging pragmatism rubs me a bit the wrong way. He does a great job here of tearing apart the "green" ideology that has been foisted on highly consumerized societies in the hopes of making their orthorexic guilt stimulate further orgies of commodity purchase. His voice is just what you would expect from someone who essentially started a branch of science, then another branch of science, and was shunned by academies for decades before his ideas began to gain broader popular and professional traction, but, surprisingly, with nary a hint of I-told-you-so.

  • Bookwyrm
    2019-01-18 20:52

    This no option to "pause" your reading which is annoying.Have put this aside as Lovelock has a new book out soon, where he essentially goes back on much of what he says here and in his previous book.The message here is, essentially, WE ARE FUCKED, the climate change we have set in motion is already irreversible and there is nothing we can do to stop it. It will lead to a drastic reduction of life on Earth, including humans, who will be extremely lucky sustain a population of a billion and that is very unlikely. His timescale here for this to really kick in is approximately 20 years, the book published in 2009.As I understand it he still thinks this scenario may be the case but it might take hundreds of years, in which case there may be much we can do to, if not avert it, at least minimise it.

  • Hokomoko
    2019-01-04 15:33

    This book disturbed me more than any I've read I think. It offers a terribly bleak prospect for our future. Lovelock's grim insight that we individually and collectively will do nothing in time to prevent or even reduce this fate is almost too much to bear. The writing itself offers a series of insights into the nature and purpose of life on Earth. Essentially, each living being past, present and future contribute to maintaining, changing and participating in the collective life of the planet. Our very atmosphere, soil and bodily composition has been created by life. Unfortunately humans, 'tribal carnivores,' tend to use up resources far too fast and will likely tip the feedback processes towards a biosphere hostile to our continued survival in large numbers.

  • Bioteo
    2018-12-21 16:33

    James Lovelock è uno scienziato a 360°, padre della teoria di Gaia che tanto ha condizionato il pensiero ecologico negli ultimi decenni. Dopo aver passato l'intera vita a studiare i meccanismi geofisiologici che permettono al sistema terra di autoregolarsi, negli ultimi anni ha scritto diversi libri di denuncia che mettono in luce i pericoli che gravano sull'umanità intera. L'attività antropica sul nostro pianeta si è trasformata in una vera e propria forza globale in grado di alterare i cicli biogeochimici e il clima. La macchina climatica si è messa in moto con effetti visibili in diversi ecosistemi. Secondo Lovelock il nostro pianeta sta variando in uno stato meno favorevole per la nostra sopravvivenza, soprattutto per la sopravvivenza delle società umane come noi le conosciamo. Il cambiamento climatico ha avuto una rapida accelerata negli ultimi anni, molto superiore ai modelli previsionali elaborati dall'IPCC. In un pianeta più caldo di 4°C rispetto ad ora (previsione per la fine del secolo in corso) la terra potrebbe dare sostentamento ad una popolazione mondiale non superiore a 100 milioni; un dato parecchio allarmante considerando il fatto che ora siamo in circa 7 miliardi! Il problema ecologico principale è la crescita incontrollata della popolazione umana. Lovelock conia addirittura il termine “poliantroponemia” per definire la malattia di Gaia, ovvero l’aumento anomalo e relativamente improvviso, se consideriamo il tempo geologico, degli esseri umani. In questo quadro parecchio preoccupante sappiamo che l’impatto del cambiamento climatico non avverrà in maniera eguale sul nostro pianeta; alcune aree saranno certamente più colpite rispetto ad altre. Tra due o tre decenni le superfici di territorio in cui sarà possibile abitare saranno quelle nelle regioni settentrionali del nostro pianeta, quelle che l’autore chiama “zattere di salvataggio” Che fare allora? Lovelock, partendo dal punto fermo che il cambiamento in atto sarà inevitabile, dedica diversi capitoli analizzando le varie possibili soluzioni energetiche e tecnologiche per cercare di adattarsi e sopravvivere. E' cosa nota ormai che Lovelock consideri l'energia nucleare la sola soluzione ipotizzabile per "mantenere accese le luci della civiltà" nel prossimo futuro. Le fonti rinnovabili possono certamente aiutare a colmare la fame di energia dell'uomo ma sicuramente non possono essere l'unica soluzione attuabile su larga scala. Una possibile soluzione per frenare il cambiamento climatico potrebbe essere l’impiego della geoingegneria (l’autore dedica un intero capitolo sull’argomento) come ad esempio l’immissione nella stratosfera di aerosol di goccioline di acido solforico, l’utilizzo di “parasoli” in orbita geostazionaria, il sequestro del biossido di carbonio, la fertilizzazione degli oceani con il ferro per favorire la crescita algale e quindi il sequestro della CO2, ecc. Secondo Lovelock il tempo è scaduto, ora dobbiamo utilizzare tutto il nostro intelletto per cercare di adattarci al cambiamento per sopravvivere. Non c’è altra soluzione che guardare in faccia la realtà e affrontarla. Purtroppo però come ha affermato Bertrand Russel “L’uomo medio affronterebbe più volentieri la morte o la tortura piuttosto che pensare”

  • Simone GAndrade
    2019-01-04 16:55

    Gaia - Alerta Final por James Lovelock - Renomado cientista, inventor de vários instrumentos científicos como o medidor de CFCs (clorofluorcarbonetos) presentes na atmosfera, além de várias publicações científicas, sendo o autor da teoria de Gaia. Neste livro ele expõe suas teorias e quais foram suas motivações para publicação desta obra, aqui ele faz críticas ao IPCC (Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudanças Climáticas) que é um é um órgão científico responsável pela sintetização e divulgação de conhecimentos relacionados ao aquecimento global, e a divulgação de pesquisas relacionadas às mudanças climáticas chamou verdadeiramente sua atenção sobre o consenso relacionado ao clima do futuro, baseados em modelos climáticos incompletos, nada confiáveis se comparados às previsões com os dados reais apurados, onde políticas públicas são planejadas a amenizar mudanças do clima, o próprio autor relata: "Se não conseguimos prever o que já aconteceu, como podemos ter confiança nas previsões para daqui a quarenta ou noventa anos?". Para dar ênfase em suas objeções traz gráficos que mostram as discrepâncias levantadas ao que realmente aconteceu ao nosso planeta, ou seja, previsões incompatíveis em relação às observações reais obtidas, e como a história da terra evidencia que as mudanças não são sutis como as previsões do IPCC, sendo mais prováveis mudanças súbitas, e lembra a importância das observações no mundo real e não apenas argumentações em modelos teóricos. Não há dúvida sobre o grande jogo de interesses em previsões que sejam mais aceitáveis aos interesses governamentais e as atividades humanas que potencializam o aquecimento global. O autor levanta várias questões que chamam bastante atenção, sendo evidente que a evolução da população humana ao longo dos tempos tem relação com as diversas consequências negativas ao planeta terra, o excesso de pessoas com seus animais de estimação e gado exaurem os recursos naturais com uma velocidade acima do que o próprio sistema consegue se regenerar, "os seres humanos do século XX tornaram-se quase um organismo patológico planetário" e na teoria de Gaia o planeta Terra é um grande ser vivo capaz de se autorregular, mudando para um estado bem menos favorável a nós seres vivos e outros animais para regular seu pleno funcionamento, nossa tentativa de salvar o planeta como o conhecemos já passou há muito tempo, ou seja, é um assunto extenso com vários pontos e advertências importantes que devem ser consideradas, não concordo com tudo que li, mas são discussões que valem a pena. Realmente um livro que levanta uma serie de reflexões sobre como vemos e interagimos com o planeta que habitamos.

  • Sam Romilly
    2019-01-07 20:47

    Some great ideas but let down by repetition, meanderings into other subjects, attacks on environmentalists, support for nuclear energy and too pessimistic doomsday scenarios.Gaia as a theory of a self regulating living planet that will survive regardless of what happens to the humans is something I feel makes sense. The fact that the human population is now 7 billion, and together with our farm animals, is the primary cause of 60% of CO2 emissions is a sobering fact. Attempting to reduce the other 40% of emissions by green technologies is indeed probably doomed to failure. Locklock's insistence on the benefits of nuclear energy seem to be counter to his other arguments. This firstly because there is this 60% of CO2 that is not being addressed, and secondly because it is already too late as the buildup of CO2 to date is now irreversible. He cleverly points to the fact that it is the actual pollution in the atmosphere reflecting the sun's heat that is protecting us from the global warming that has already taken place and evidenced by rising sea levels and melting ice caps.What left an unpleasant feeling about this book was his keenness to set up an island fortress in the UK for the survivors of the coming catastrophe- and already thinking of how to keep out the inevitable refugees from the rest of the world. It would have been a better book if he had stuck to the science, and the theory of Gaia, and not delved into sociological political fantasies regarding survival of certain elements of humankind.

  • Marina
    2019-01-19 19:49

    Non mi ha soddisfatta come il primo libro scritto da Lovelock (Gaia). Le sue affermazioni sulle conseguenze e le cause del surriscaldamento terrestre erano già state sviluppate nel primo testo. Questo ultimo libro é un po' una ripetizione. Gli argomenti nuovi riguardano le sue opinioni personali su come la Gran Bretagna può affrontare questa modificazione globale. Secondo l'autore occorre usufruire delle centrali atomiche come fonte energetica, e ne spiega i motivi. Quanto alle cause che ci hanno portato al surriscaldamento terrestre, egli non incolpa tanto le industrie e i combustibili fossili, quanto la PRESENZA stessa di sette miliardi di persone e dei loro animali che emettono anidride carbonica. Chiaramente a questo non c'è rimedio. Noi contribuiamo, con la nostra respirazione, ad apportare il 23 per cento di biossido di carbonio in atmosfera. Egli afferma che Gaia ( la biosfera ) sta già apportando le necessarie modifiche per mantenere l'omeostasi necessaria alla vita nel pianeta Terra ( lo sta facendo da 3,5 miliardi di anni ). Ma il suo scopo è la sopravvivenza di tutto il pianeta, non di una sola specie, quale potrebbe essere quella umana. Tuttavia anche l' uomo, come specie,ha sempre saputo adattarsi. Si presuppone che, usando l'intelligenza, continui a farlo.

  • Todd Martin
    2019-01-19 20:26

    James Lovelock is a pretty pessimistic guy. He believes that we should be doing everything within our power to prepare for the devastation that is to come from a planet destabilized by global climate change, which he expects to be worse and sooner than scientists at the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) predict. To get a feel for how very pessimistic he is, Lovelock has been quoted in The Guardian as saying that 80% of humans will perish by 2100 AD due to climate change, and that this climate change will last 100,000 years. Geez, talk about a buzzkill. As evidence for this position Lovelock points to the fact that actual climate measurements in the field show a world warming much faster than the predictions made by climate models. Lovelock’s view definitely represents a fringe opinion when it comes to climate scientists. The reality is that the earth, as a system, is so very complex as to make predictions useless. What we do know however (and Lovelock makes this point elequently), is that feedback mechanisms exist that could cause a catestrophic cascade of events that could quickly alter the planet’s climate in ways that are unconducive to human life. As an example … melting sea ice decreases the earth’s albedo causing more heat to be absorbed, the warming oceans results in massive die offs of algae, which can no longer convert CO2 to oxygen (further increasing CO2 levels). In addition, decomposing algae release even more carbon melting the permafrost which releases more carbon and … we’re well on the way to circling the drain. Whether Lovelock’s distopian vision comes true or not, the current best evidence points to the conclusion that significant climatic changes are on the way and that these changes are likely to destabilize the globe in ways that will result in immense human misery and suffering. It’s an unfortunate result of our evolutionary history that humans did not evolve the capability to respond to threats with long time lines. A failure that may ultimately lead to our undoing.In addition to his pessimistic outlook, there are other odd ideosyncracies to Lovelock’s thinking, a few examples:He describes his disdain for climate models, then uses results of models to support his position.He tells us we’re all going to die prematurely due to global warming, then decries the use of wind turbines because they might disturb the view from his house. One can almost hear him yelling “Get off my lawn!” at the spinning blades as he shambles out his front door in a dirty bathrobe. He poo-poos the idea of a Manhattan style project for renewable energy because “In practice this kind of approach may work well for the development of an existing possibility, but it can hinder new invention.” Uh … last time I checked the Manhattan Project did develop a “new invention” … we dropped it on Hiroshima. He’s 91 years old so I can forgive him for being a bit of a crank. We should all be so lucky. On the positive side, I very much appreciate his hard-headed approach to solutions. Given the immediacy of the problem, in his view, we don’t have the time or luxury to dither with half-assed feel good measures like renewable energy or sustainable development. He examines and discards solutions that do not result in real, measureable and immediate returns that increase the chances of survival of humans and animals. This practical approach is a refreshing change from the soft-headed pablum put out by the hippy-dippy, tree-hugging crowd (cough … Bill McKibben).

  • Alexandra
    2019-01-17 15:34

    An interesting theory unfolds throughout the book. The way it's presented, muddled through repeating arguments on very specific points, like why nuclear is the way to go, makes the message of more parts of the book unclear to me.

  • Andy Gibb
    2019-01-04 23:40

    This is “A Final Warning” from James Lovelock, who first proposed the holistic Gaia hypothesis. He has some quotable stuff: "the breathing and other gaseous emissions (dare I say farts?) of 7 billion people, their pets and livestock are responsible for 23% of greenhouse gas emissions." Add the fuel burnt in providing food for this lot to get to nearly 50%. What chance of the 60% reduction to keep CO2 in check without actually killing something?We seem to be double screwed because such a reduction will also reduce our pollution haze, which helps global cooling. This I knew about already.We're fucked. So what can we salvage from the inevitable meltdown? Clearly some number of ourselves would be good but more important would be the support of all the other species and ecosystems, which we have happily trashed the last few centuries.I've been carrying in my head a sustainable world population of 1 billion but Lovelock suggests 100 million as a figure that could more or less do what it wanted. I like that idea. What's the point of bringing humans into a world that restricts their full potential? The thing is: how do we get down to that number? (Hint: we may not have to; the planet may do it for us.)I suggest a compromise of 700 million, which is a tenth of what we have. So we could decimate in the strictest sense. I rather like that: Decim8. Catchy, huh? With the implication that we need to do it before we hit 8 billion.Fat chance. Lovelock wonders if the human gene pool holds one for being a beneficial part of Gaia. I think he's being fanciful but it's not too much to hope that such a meme exists. The question then becomes one of whether the coming crash will select for it. That is part of my (dystopic of course) future history for Flight of the Ark.The Vanishing Face of Gaia is a book that few will read but few need to. What's coming is coming and there ain't a damn thing we can do about it.

  • Chris Chester
    2019-01-17 15:51

    Reads like the confused environmental treatise of an overly proud scientist who is very set in his ways, with a triumphal tone no doubt borne of the fact that he himself will not have to live with the consequences of the processes he describes.First thing's first: Gaia. It's such an important notion to this book that it's a little absurd how long he goes without actually defining it, almost as though he assumes you have read all his previous books. It's the notion that biology, geology and atmospheric sciences should not be studied individually, but taken as a larger system with very complex feedback mechanisms, many of which we don't understand.As a metaphor, I think it's an apt explanation of what could be wrong with existing climate models. But taken literally, it falls into the traps as many orthodox religions: it projects human characteristics and agency onto a system which, while dynamic, does not exercise agency in the way that humans do. I don't understand why he lets an otherwise apt critique of the environmental sciences get maligned for the sake of an evocative name.I see shades of the same hubris in his wholesale endorsement of nuclear power at the expense of things like wind power. While nuclear power is indeed the form of energy production that, if we were to embrace it wholesale, could potentially keep us at existing levels of physical comfort and aggregate energy use, it's the answer. Nuclear power can be dangerous because it assumes that our civilization will always exist at its current level of complexity, and doesn't allow for a future where the wheels have perhaps come off the wagon.It's a strange oversight, given how on the nose Lovelock is about the biggest problem facing humanity today: overpopulation. In his last chapter, he talks about allowing natural selection decide who is fittest to remain in Earth's habitable lifeboats. If you really can foresee a world where climate pressures reduce our population to a more reasonable carrying capacity of 100 million or so, why in the world would you endorse the use of kinds of power that can poison whole areas of the world for centuries if left unattended?This book is riddled with this kind of self-contradiction.

  • Steve H
    2018-12-27 20:39

    I read this because many other books I've read on climate change reference James Lovelock, and I remember getting a very brief introduction to the Gaia theory back in the 1980s. While this is a somewhat rambling and depressing book, what has stuck with me is his mention of cognitive dissonance, which is basically the practice of trying to mentally reconcile conflicting information. I was experiencing a lot of cognitive dissonance while listening to this book, and I'm still processing what to believe.First, Lovelock claims that nuclear is the only form of energy that can help get some portion of humanity through climate change, but most other works I've been looking at rely on other renewable energy forms (wind and solar PV and solar thermal) as energy sources of the future because of problems with nuclear that Lovelock discounts as fiction (diminishing sources of uranium, toxicity of spent fuel, cost of making nuclear plants and processing fuel, potential for terrorism). He compares numbers of people killed as a result of nuclear energy since its commercial use began in the 1950s (under 100 if you counter Chernobyl) to the numbers of people killed processing coal and other fossil fuels (thousands). Another statement that causes some dissonance is his claim that the respiration of all humans and their pets and livestock make up for about 25% of the carbon released into the atmosphere. It's claims like this that make me rethink what I've read elsewhere, but I don't have that much time to research which of his claims are true.Locklock's focus is on Gaia (the earth as a self-regulating organism, comprised of many parts including humans) and its survival, which allows him to write off several billion human deaths as a correction to the overall organism. However, he broaches the ethical issues of trying to stave off global heating and the upcoming refugee problems as people try to move from hot, uninhabitable areas to the oases, one of which he things will be the British Isles. Overall, it's a difficult work because the subject matter is fairly depressing, but also because it's filled with claims that you have to stop and question and because it's an odd mix of science book, biography, and political manifesto.

  • Matthew Moes
    2019-01-18 18:26

    I had my introduction to Gaia theory through this "final warning". While reading I began to contrast my experience with reading Huston Smith's memoir. An odd connection perhaps, but the similarity being that Smith and Lovelock are both 90 yr old experts at two opposite ends of the spectrum who could reminisce on the development of their ideas over several decades and the array of colleagues they agreed and disagreed with through the years. In spite of the new age sound, Gaia is not a "spiritual" idea. The author has spent his life justifying its science. The creative sounding name can be attributed to author William Golding who suggested it. There is a wonderful idea of a "living earth" and a call for looking at science and the Earth in a holistic interconnected manner (i.e. systems approach). But the final warning is grim and the author's faith in humanity's capacity to heed it is even more pessimistic than his agnosticism. The warning is simply that the Earth will protect itself and is currently shifting to a hotter climate in order to do just that. Sea level will rise and a much smaller portion of land will remain habitable. While it is probably too late to stem global heating, we have a tremendous challenge ahead of us to manage the resources that will remain. Beyond that, the author is critical of popular "green" notions and in some cases, argues that some reforms would result in even bigger problems. He advocates nuclear energy as a possible solution and seems to endorse other scientific (not so natural) means of ensuring the provisions necessary for sustaining a difficult future. So it is definitely not your typical back to nature argument. In fact, what I like most is that from the beginning he outlines the degree to which politics exacerbates the problem. He argues against "business as usual", while maintaining an equally critical stance against the left. Worth reading to stimulate meaningful debate on some of the most significant scientific issues of our time.

  • James
    2018-12-25 20:43

    Any scientist who characterises the Earth’s condition in terms of apatient with an incurable disease can expect a sceptical response.But when that scientist is the man who first detected ozone-bustinggases in the atmosphere his views can’t be so easily dismissed.In his latest book, James Lovelock presents a grim vision of the future: an overheated Earth offering a reduced portion of its land surface to diminishing pockets of humanity. But his central point is more terrifying still. Lovelock believes that global warming has probably passed the point of no return, and efforts aimed at reversing climate change will do nothing more than buy us the time we need to adapt to the inevitable.In Lovelock’s view, time is running out for life on Earth, demanding an urgent reappraisal of the sacrosanct ideas held by the governments, business and the green movement. The rise of renewable energy, he says, has more to do with subsidies than sustainability, and can never fill the gap left by fossil fuels. More controversially, Lovelock rejects ‘unreasonable fears’ about nuclear power, contrasting the catastrophic loss of life after the Bhopal chemical disaster with the ‘much lesser disaster’ at Chernobyl. He’s acutely aware that his views put him in direct conflict with less apocalyptic standpoints, notably that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But Lovelock believes the IPCC’s reliance on computer models eclipses observation of trends inglobal temperatures and rising sea levels that are the true indicators of climate change. Some readers will struggle to endorse Lovelock’s views on geoengineering, or his theory of the Earth as a self-regulating organism. But as his ideas gain greater acceptance, Lovelock’s bookmay come to be regarded less as a diagnosis of doom and more as a blueprint for survival.

  • Beshr Nammouz
    2018-12-23 19:35

    الكاتب عالم قدير وباحث سابق بناسا والكتاب ترجمته جيدة وموضوعه العلمي غني ومهم، أنصح بقراءة الكتاب، ينتقد الكاتب سياسة الحكومات في وضع خططها لمواجهة الاحترار العالمي لعدة عقود إلى الأمام بناء على نماذج (آي بي بي سي) وهي منظمة حكومية، ورغم كفاءة هذه الجهة العلمية فإن المعطيات اثبتت أن الاحترار العالمي يزداد بشكل يفوق أكثر السيناريوهات الموضوعة سوءا، وأن السياسة المعتمدة حاليا على وسائل الطاقة المتجدد كالرياح والطاقة الشمسية لن تفيد في تجنب الكارثة القادمةويصر الكاتب على خيار الطاقة النووية، التي نحيت جانبا لعدة اسباب من أهمها طمع الشركات الصناعية الكبرى في مجال الطاقة المتجددةويحذر الكاتب من أن الأرض كانت متكيفة مع آثار الإنسان السلبية في زيادة الاحترار العالمي حتى بضع مئات من السنين حيث انتهت قدرتها على التكيف، وأخذ النظام الأرضي يطور مناخه وكيميائيته بحيث يدعم قابليته للحياة، حيث ستتخلى غايا (كوكب الأرض) عن عدد كبير من البشر، وستكون بقع معينة من العالم صالحة للحياة ستستضيف لاجئين مناخيين، منها جزر بريطانيا مثلا، ويجب أن يحسب حساب أن تكفي موارد هذه البقاع لأصحاب هذه الأراضي واللاجئين إليها بحيث لا يتجاوزون اعدادا معينة، سنصبح في ذلك الوقت في ظروف ستكون فيها الحروب والمجاعات والكوارث السابقة أحداثا صغيرة قياسا لما سنعيشه وما هو قادم ونظرية غايا التي وضعها الكاتب تقول أن النظام الأرضي يطور مناخه وكيميائيته بحيث يدعم قابليته للحياة، واجهت النظرية معارضة شديدة في أوساط العلماء في بداية ظهورها بستينات وسبعينات القرن الماضي وعانت من نقد علماء الجيولوجيا وعلماء الداروينية الجديدة، لأنها عدت كثورة على المفاهيم العلمية الراسخة كما لم تكن مبنية على دلائل كافية، وكان الرأي بأن علم الأرض وحده كافي لتفسير جيوكيمياء الأرض ولا حاجة فعلية لغايا، يفرض نفسه، لكن نظرية غايا عادت وأثبتت نفسها وأنه من الجدير الأخذ بها على محمل الجدية والخطورة الكافية، منذ الثمانينات إلى اليوموازدادت أهميتها اليوم وفي الوقت الذي أثبتت فيه جدارتها العلمية فانه لم يؤخذ بها حتى الآن في الحد من الاحترار العالمي

  • Steven Brandt (Audiobook-Heaven)
    2019-01-08 17:30

    The Gaia Theory suggests that the planet Earth, and everything that lives on it, is a single, self-regulating organism. The planet, its air and water, and all of its plant and animal life all work together to regulate ocean salinity, oxygen content of the atmosphere, and the global surface temperature, maintaining a balance that is optimal for contemporary life. This far-reaching hypothesis was first developed by James Lovelock in the late 1970’s. Lovelock was met with a great deal of distrust and even ridicule when he first proposed the theory, but as problems with the ozone layer and global warming increase, so does interest in the Gaia Theory.Whether you believe in Gaia or not, Lovelock makes some good points. Most people today are finally convinced that global warming and melting icecaps are indeed a problem. In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, Lovelock offers one last dire warning about the state of our planet. In face, he goes so far as to state that it may already be too late to do anything about it. Is our planet one enormous organism? To me, it hardly seems to matter. Gaia or not, the face is if we don’t take care of our planet, it won’t take care of us.I hardly feel that I need to say anything at all about Simon Vance’s narrating talent. Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to audiobooks already knows that he is fantastic. Vance’s recording career began at the tender age of 6 when he read Winnie-the-Pooh into a microphone. To date, he has recorded hundreds of audiobooks and has won no less than 4 AudioFile Best Voice awards.Steven Brandt @ Audiobook-Heaven

  • John Esterly
    2018-12-28 21:52

    This was a very eye opening book by the father of Gaia theory. Based on what reviews and references I've seen to his other work, I get the feeling this was a much tamer trip into the world of Gaia by Lovelock. He speaks candidly of the present state of our planet, carbon dioxide concentration, polar caps melting, changes in vegetation, and the abundance of human influence on the Gaian system. He believes, and supports with sufficient scientific evidence, that the damage we have done to the planet is more or less irreversible and that we are slipping into a climatic hot period. In contrast to the warnings in his previous works (I gather), this book is a bit more optimistic about the future. Although the hot period is imminent, Lovelock feels that both humanity and Gaia will continue after the shift occurs. Lovelock does warn however, although never in so many words, that as the hot period commences, the human race will likely be unable to sustain itself at present population levels. He alludes to the fact that the fit will survive, and expects only a fraction of the present population in the post-interglacial period after the final climate shift.One thing that surprised me was Lovelock's very vocal support of some non-traditionally green initiatives. He is very much in favor of nuclear energy, and supports his claim with carbon footprint and environmental analysis that show that nuclear power is less polluting and impactful than even traditional "green" power systems like wind turbines and solar voltaic cell power. He also supports the emerging technology of solar thermal power, which is ideal for high sun, warmer climates like the tropics and deserts.

  • Jafar Qasim
    2019-01-13 19:32

    "إننا مثل مخمور يقود دبابة حطمنا بالمصادفة عالمنا "يقوم العالم جيمس لفلوك و بعد سنوات عمره الطويلة بتوجيه صرخة نداء أخيرة لسكان هذه المعمورة ,كنبي وحيد بين جموع الإنكار نجده يدعو الجميع للبدء ببناء سفينة النجاة قبل حدوث إنتقام غايا لا مجال للتراجع أو العودة فالأرض قد استنزفت ووصلت إلى مرحلة الشيخوخة و قد ضاقت ذرعاً بمرضها العضال المسمى الجنس البشري ,لذا فإنها كعادتها و من أجل الحفاظ على بقائها قامت بإعادة برمجة نظامها الذاتي بتغذية راجعة إيجابية تعمل على توفير ظروف صعبة لعيش بني البشر لكنها تضمن إستمرار الكوكب الأزرق الحزين.ليست المقدمة أعلاه توطئة لكتاب في الخيال العلمي بل هي ملخص لبعض ما تختزله نظرية غايا نظرية غايا ورغم المحاربة الشديدة التي واجهتها من قبل كهنة العلم شقت طريقها للنور أخيراً لتحمل بين طياتها تحذير للجنس البشري بقرب فنائه و لكن في الوقت نفسه تقدم الحلول التي تضمن البقاء و لو لفئة قليلة ممن وعت الخطر الشديد و الحقيقي الذي يهدد الكرة الأرضية ككل ,هي نظرية علمية مغايرة و ذات طرح جديد لا تحارب غيرها من النظريات العلمية لكن تقوم بدمجها تحت نظام أوحد تفاعلي إن "غايا" ستتيح للقاريء ملاحظة وإدراك زيف بعض المسميات البراقة التي يدعو اليها منتسبو (أرضنا الخضراء) وضعف إدعاء البعض بأن الطاقة المتجددة بوضعها الحالي هي الحل لنظام بيئي منقذ للأرض,كماأنها ستدهشك بتفنيد مزاعم البعض التي تدعو إلى الإستغناء عن الطاقة النووية لخطرها على الجنس البشري أنصح الجميع بقراءة هذا الكتاب لما يحتويه من معلومات جديدة علمية واقعية ستغير الكثير من وجهات نظرك بخصوص أُمنا الأرض و كيفية الحفاظ عليها.

  • ジェイムズ・n. パウエル
    2018-12-24 20:39

    I give you Lovelock's unflinching and horrifying assessment of the climate crisis, and his closing image in his final chapter of his last book--his final warning that the planet we dwell upon will heat up far faster than most have imagined--with only a few inhabitable oases left to offer any form of refuge to what few survivors will remain:"Sometime later in this century the survivors may reach a small harbor and dismount from their camels. Moored there they may see a small wooden ship scratching its side as it moves with the ocean's gentle swell against the rough harbor wall. A steady, cooler breeze promises a fair start for the next hazardous part of the journey northwards. The captain says nothing as the survivors board the vessel, but he knows that the near-unbearable rigor of the desert has selected them, the strong in mind and body, whose fitness pays the price of the voyage."

  • R.Z.
    2019-01-16 20:38

    Whether you have read Lovelock's previous books about Gaia or not, this one is essential for understanding what may be happening to our planet right now. Gaia is the name for the theory that the earth is a living being in and of itself and does what it needs to in order to survive. It is a living self-regulating super-organism. Because humans have proliferated beyond the capacity of the planet to sustain itself, a correction is happening now. The question is: Will we be able to stop it, or will we be able to adapt to what is coming? The scary part is that these corrections in past eras have built up and then changed the surface of the earth suddenly, almost without warning. Will humans survive? That is the question, and Lovelock gives us some ideas as to what we must do to save our species.

  • Robin
    2019-01-04 15:27

    Lovelock says that the survival of Gaia is more important than the survival of mankind. I contest that. In some abstract sense I understand what he means, but a true gaian would never say so. Only a disgruntled and misanthropic old man who already has said goodbye to the world would do that. A true gaian would recognize that we humans, with all our instincts, errors, and ideas gone astray are part of Gaia just like a tornado, a virus or a parasite is part of Gaia. A man dismissing the survival of mankind is a mistaken gaian.In addition, Lovelocks 'disanthropy' is a self-defeating strategy if you want to make people conscious about the fact that everything on this globe is connected and dependent on each other. Instead you promote a conservative an fuck-ya-all kind of philosopy which doesn't help anybody. Dear James Lovelock, you make me sad.