In defiance of Milo Yiannopolous’s probably sound advice, I’m attracting a little attention to James Lovelock’s The Vanishing Face of Gaia. An excerpt of Milo’s review is below, but you’ll want to read the whole thing, here.
Lovelock is responsible for the now-famous Gaia hypothesis, which is predicated on the idea that each of the planet’s systems exist in intricate symbiosis with one another. Or, in his words, Gaia is “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”.
Sounds nice, doesn’t it? But this isn’t really a “hypothesis” at all: it’s just a highfalutin’ way of saying we shouldn’t cut down so many trees and we shouldn’t burn so much coal. The problem with Lovelock’s theory is that he presents it as a scientific position, when really it’s not even cargo cult stuff: Gaia is a perfectly pleasant metaphor for the dangers of abusing the natural world, but to posit his “cybernetic system” as a serious theory is to invite ridicule.
Perhaps realising — as James Hansen surely now does, if only privately — that the planet might just make it through the twenty-first century intact after all, Lovelock has switched focus in his new book. Now it’s only humanity that’s at risk. The planet will look after itself. All that saving the planet stuff was just a sales pitch: what we really need to be doing is saving the human race.
Controversially, Lovelock says nuclear power is the only viable way of generating enough energy to meet future demand. But in doing so, he overlooks — or ignores — the fact that even sustainable power is unsustainable. According to New Scientist, “The most advanced ‘renewable’ technologies are too often based upon non-renewable resources.” In other words, the green lobby could be about to rob the planet of irreplaceable natural assets.
After a close reading of this slender volume, I can offer no sensible summary of it, save to say that the climate lobby is clearly struggling to come up with new and inventive ways to keep the “industry” going.
But I can offer some advice. Do not purchase The Vanishing Face of Gaia. Do not read it. Do not tell your friends about it. Do not, in short, do anything to attract further attention to this silly — though I’m sure lucrative — drivel. “Future generations” will thank you.
The publishers tell me this is Lovelock’s “final word” on the environmental problems humanity will face in the twenty-first century. We can be grateful, at least, for that.