In The Vanishing Face of Gaia, British scientist James Lovelock predicts global warming will lead to a Hot Epoch. Lovelock is best known for formulating the controversial Gaia theory in the 1970s, with Ruth Margulis of the University of Massachusetts, which states that organisms interact with and regulate Earth's surface and atmosphere. We ignore this interaction at our peril.
An "unwilling Cassandra," he is nevertheless an "an optimistic pessimist" and thinks we will survive the coming Hot Epoch, but predicts climate change will reduce our population from 9 billion to around one billion or less.
"I don't think nine billion is better than one billion," Lovelock writes. He compares humans to the "first photosynthesisers, which, when they first appeared on the planet, caused enormous damage by releasing oxygen -- a nasty, poisonous gas." Oxygen turned out to be beneficial to the life forms that evolved to utilize it, including us, but a global anaerobic ecosystem gave way in the face of this atmospheric change.
If simple microbial life forms could effect such a change, why is it hard to believe that humans could do so, too? And we are, unwittingly at first, but many have recognized the danger for some time now, and time is running out.
There are factions at work today trying to convince the public that global warming is a leftwing conspiracy, a liberal hoax. They claim that scientists perpetuate this "myth" to obtain government grants, and point to "independent" scientists (usually funded by the oil industry) who refute climate change science. Dr. Lovelock may be the antidote to these claims, as he is a truly independent scientist. Lovelock, a chemist and inventor by profession and a climate activist, is not beholden to any government, university, or granting agency.
Let those determined to bury their heads in the sands of right wing silliness do so. the rest of us, young and old, have work to do. Lovelock's book sets out an important agenda to follow.
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