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Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.

The Gaia Theory Gets Some Respect

 by Keith Goetzman

Tags: Gaia, Gaia theory, science, geology, biology, James Lovelock, Natural History, environment, Keith Goetzman,

Earth from space

When James Lovelock rolled out his Gaia hypothesis in the 1960s, it was met with skepticism by many of his scientific colleagues. His suggestion that the Earth was a self-regulating system akin to an organism was bold—and, like many bold new theories, it attracted scads of doubters and detractors. But five decades later, writes David E. Moody in Natural History, Gaia theory is no longer looked down upon by many scientists—in fact, it has slowly become downright respectable.

Writes Moody:

British evolutionary biologist William D. Hamilton initially called the Gaia theory a “hopeless” notion, notes Moody, but by 1998 he had changed his tune, declaring it “ ‘Copernican’ in its implications, and added that it only awaits a Newton to describe more fully the laws by which Gaia could have evolved.”

Moody issues a note of caution, however:

Source: Natural History (article not available online) 

Image by Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center, licensed under Creative Commons.