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Published on May 21, 2014
James Ephraim Lovelock, is an independent scientist, environmentalist and futurist who lives in Dorset, England. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which he discusses in this exclusive interview, filmed in 2007.
The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. Topics of interest include how the biosphere and the evolution of life forms affect the stability of global temperature, ocean salinity, oxygen in the atmosphere and other environmental variables that affect the habitability of Earth.
The hypothesis, which is named after the Greek goddess Gaia, was formulated by the scientist James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s. The hypothesis was initially criticised for being teleological and contradicting principles of natural selection, but later refinements resulted in ideas framed by the Gaia Hypothesis being used in fields such as Earth system science, biogeochemistry, systems ecology, and the emerging subject of geophysiology. Nevertheless, the Gaia hypothesis continues to attract criticism, and today many scientists consider it to be only weakly supported by, or at odds with, the available evidence. In 2006, the Geological Society of London awarded Lovelock the Wollaston Medal largely for his work on the Gaia theory.
Questions asked in this interview :
What does Gaia tell us about the Earth? Is global warming really happening? What would the climate be like without humans? Has global warming ever happened before? What can we expect to see in 20 to 30 years from now? What will conditions be like at the end of this century? Are there too many people on the planet? When do you think global warming began? Will global warming cause a mass extinction? Can nuclear power save the planet? What about the problem of nuclear waste? Can nuclear power be used for transport? Could renewable energy be the solution? Do you think that we will ever be able to control our climate? Can we realistically reduce carbon dioxide emissions? Have we passed the tipping point? Could Earth become as lifeless as Mars of Venus? Is there any hope for the human race?