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Re: SC6

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January 28, 2006 11:29AM
http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/books/reviews/article341193.ece

The Revenge of Gaia

James Lovelock will go down in history as the scientist who changed our view of the Earth from a barren rock covered with a thin coating of life to a self-organising system that in many ways resembles a single organism.

Gaia theory is now widely accepted and used in scientific disciplines. Its implication is that humanity is part of a much larger system that it cannot control, still less master. The Earth's self-regulating processes impose limits on human ambitions, and if humanity acts to destabilise the system, the Earth will readjust in ways that show no regard for human welfare.

Lovelock writes that the root of the environmental problem is a lack of constraint on human numbers, and I am sure he is right. With a population of a billion or fewer, the planet would be healthy whatever humans did to it. As it is, unchecked human expansion has disrupted the mechanisms that keep it stable. The question is not how humanity can retain its planetary dominance, which was always an illusion. It is whether humanity can use science and technology to mount a sustainable retreat. If not, Lovelock warns, we face "a global decline into a chaotic world ruled by brutal warlords on a devastated Earth".
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