Book and film reviews

Gaia's revenge

(Published in GralsWelt 44/2007)

By James Lovelock

Why the earth is defending itself

List-Verlag, 2006

James Lovelock (born July 26, 1919) is one of the most prominent representatives of the environmental movement as a chemist, physician and biophysicist. As a chemist, Lovelock developed the electron capture detector (ECD) with which chlorinated environmental toxins can be detected sensitively.

In the early 1970s he formulated the together with Lynn Margulis (born 1938) "Gaia Hypothesis". This postulates “That life on earth actively regulates the surface conditions in such a way that they are favorable for the ensemble of organisms that currently inhabits them. Initially, this idea ran counter to school wisdom that life had adapted to planetary conditions and that both had developed separately. We now know that both the original Gaia hypothesis and that school wisdom were wrong. The hypothesis developed into today's Gaia theory and school wisdom developed into geosystem science. " (P. 234).

In his most recent book, “Gaia's Revenge”, Lovelock soberly discusses the dangers of global warming, which will lead to catastrophes that endanger civilization, unless we take immediate and decisive action to counteract it.
The problems of global warming were therefore conjured up by us humans. Burning fossil fuels pollutes the atmosphere with too many greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), creating the “greenhouse effect”. In addition, the earth's ecosystems are overexploited, so that there is less and less space for Gaia to maintain the favorable conditions for life in a balanced way:
“We are already cultivating more land than the earth can afford, and if we try to use all of the earth to feed our people, then even with organic methods we are like sailors, the wood and the Burn the rigging of their boats to keep them warm. The earth's natural ecosystems are not there to be cultivated for us; they are there to preserve the planet's climate and chemistry. " (P. 25).

In general, it is little known that the sun is slowly getting hotter and that it emits around 25 percent more energy today than it did billions of years ago. Without Gaia's balancing work, our planet would have long been uninhabitable:
“Most textbooks and popular science television programs want us to believe that the earth happened to be born exactly the right distance from the sun, which is why the conditions on earth are just right for life. This pre-Gaia claim is wrong, because the heat of the sun was ideal for life for only a brief period in the history of the earth, and that was around two billion years ago. Before that it was too cold, and then it gradually got hotter and hotter. " (P. 71).

An interesting analysis of the sources of energy and raw materials follows. Here the “green” scientist Lovelock turns against the ideology-distorted world view of the green movement and advocates the expansion of nuclear energy. This is currently the only energy source that does not produce carbon dioxide and is available quickly enough.
In the longer term, further, sometimes still utopian-sounding measures are required to avoid the heat collapse of our planet, to prevent the death of billions of people, and to avert the downfall of human civilization.

In my opinion, “Gaia's Revenge” is the most important book of the decade. It is easy and good to read and gives the most important ecological facts. Every person on our planet should be familiar with the statements of this work. Only if we all recognize the impending catastrophe and are ready to change our personal lives can we hope that politicians will act in good time. The media that have to make these facts known around the world have a great, very responsible task. We will have to learn that Gaia's well-being, the health of the whole system, must take precedence over all human desires. Because if Gaia has to continue to suffer from us, the earth will soon no longer be a human-friendly planet.

Time is of the essence, because “Now there are hints from observers around the world heralding an imminent overturning of our climate into what can simply be described as hell: so hot, so deadly, that only a handful of today's billions will survive. We've made a terrible mess on the planet, and we've done it mostly with unreservedly liberal, good intentions. Even now, as the bell rings for our final hour, we are still talking about sustainable development and renewable energies as if these pathetic offers were sufficient and appropriate sacrifices that Gaia would accept. We act like reckless and thoughtless family members who break everything but seem to think that it is enough to apologize. We are Gaia's family members and welcome as such, but unless we stop acting as if it were all for human well-being and as if that were the excuse for our wrongdoing, all talk of any further development is unacceptable. " (P. 211).

This begs the question of what needs to be done as quickly as possible: “So what should a sensible European government do now? I think we have little choice but to prepare for the worst and assume that we have already crossed the threshold. Like emergency physicians, our rulers must regard it as their primary responsibility to first keep the patient - civilization - alive as we embark on the journey into a world that is at least no longer changing rapidly. We are heading towards limitless heat and we will feel the consequences within a few decades. We should now prepare for a rise in sea levels, for almost unbearable heat like in Central Europe in the summer of 2003 and for storms of unprecedented strength. We should also expect surprises, with fatal local or regional events that are completely unforeseen. " (P. 219)