The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning

From The Telegraph:

Lovelock_1369330f It is the stuff of legend. The story of the wild-eyed maverick who was attacked, vindicated and then hailed as a green visionary who could save the world. The tale of the free thinker who could teach the establishment a thing or two. There’s no better way to underline James Lovelock’s evolution to an elder statesman of science than to read the foreword to The Vanishing Face of Gaia, written by none other than Lord Rees, Order of Merit, President of the Royal Society, Astronomer Royal, and the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge: “He is a hero to many scientists – certainly to me.”

He Knew He Was Right, an authorised biography by John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin, gives a good sense of Lovelock’s inspirational, independent spirit. There are all kinds of engaging stories about the conscientious objector, the husband who sold his blood (a rare type) to support his family, the boffin who froze and reanimated hamsters, and the cannibal who augmented his impoverished wartime diet by turning waste human blood into omelettes. Lovelock has notched up many achievements during his career, notably his invention of an instrument crucial for documenting the use of the pesticide DDT and ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons, the latter providing a foundation for studies revealing risks to the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer.

Lovelock is best known for introducing the world to the seductive idea of Gaia, which says the Earth behaves as though it were an organism. The concept first reached a wide audience in 1975 in an article published in New Scientist, but was ridiculed, attacked for being teleological, even mocked as an “evil religion”.

More here.