Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gaia Cleansing

The idea that Earth's biosphere operates cooperatively as a singular superorganism (also known as Gaia theory) has gained footing as more than just a new age worldview since its formation by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the late 1960's. With the publication of James Lovelock's book Gaia - a New Look at Life on Earth the idea that life would go on with or without humanity began trickling into general consciousness.

Forty years later Lovelock is not optimistic about the future of humanity in the face of inevitable global climate change. A year ago he was quoted in the Guardian as believing that "global warming is now irreversible, and that nothing can prevent large parts of the planet becoming too hot to inhabit, or sinking underwater, resulting in mass migration, famine and epidemics." He highly doubts the efficacy of green initiatives saying it is really all too little too late.

When we go to the grocery store on our bikes and fill up reusable grocery bags with organic veggies are we simply rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic? No one who has made these life changes wants to concede that. But at least we have new leadership that might steer us away from the iceberg. If the desire to make small lifestyle changes spreads to a large enough scale perhaps some environmental mitigation will manifest. In the meantime it might be worth investing in planning "cities of the future" so we might have rafts of survival when southwest Asia runs out of glacial melt water and the Mediterranean gets flooded by Greenland falling into the north Atlantic.

Maybe all the houses left empty by the financial meltdown can be left vacant and be readied for the billion plus climate refugees that might be displaced in the near future. In the face of inevitable catastrophe James Lovelock tells a reporter to "Enjoy life while you can. Because if you're lucky it's going to be 20 years before it hits the fan." Cheers to that! We all need to eat drink and be merry regardless of the negative drivel that oozes from the television screen.

What do you think about Lovelock's outlook?

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