The Gaia Hypothesis

Dr. Hugh Malafry explains James Lovelock's controversial theory there there is one Life on Earth, and man is the nervous system


| July/August 1976



040-020-01i1

The Earth works as a system and everything has its own role.  Dr. Hugh Malafry explains how man is not living up to its role and duty.


PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Science traditionally has held to the attitude that natural organisms are a product of the environment: those fit to survive, survive — and those unfit, parish. "Ecology" is usually referred to as the relationship which exists between natural organisms and their environment, with the influence of the environment predominating.

Recently, however, a British scientist — James Lovelock — has made a rather radical proposal which he calls the "Gaia hypothesis" (after the Greek. goddess of the earth). His suggestion is that the theory of evolution as we understand it is a complete reversal of what actually occurs in that we attribute the weight of influence to environment rather than to the living organism.

The germ of Lovelock's theory comes from observations made of outer space photographs of the planet, in which the earth's mantle of atmosphere  —drawn about her like a cloak — suggested to him a protective modification of the environment (such as a snail might find in its shell).

"If all the life organisms on earth are subtly interrelated," he reasoned, "is it not possible that it is, in fact, one organism — one Life? And is it not possible that Life has in large measure shaped the environment of the earth to Its requirements, rather than being primarily a product of environmental circumstance?"

Life on earth, Lovelock feels, clearly exhibits the characteristic of being a single organism with man in the midst. And man, because of his nature, should be capable of functioning something like a central nervous system to the whole, thereby enhancing its development. Man, however, has failed in this responsibility and, instead, proceeds willy-nilly to alter the environment without regard for the greater organism he centers. He alters the environment on impulse — an impulse which disregards the Life of the Whole.

Lovelock suggests that Life began to shape Its expression on earth many millions of years ago. It did this by creating the atmosphere we now know from random gases and for the purpose of developing a suitably protective mantle that would allow the more delicate expressions of the larger organism to emerge. Life, then — human beings notwithstanding — is, significantly, intelligent and has direction.

peter_24
6/13/2007 2:34:20 PM

The Gaea hypothesis is a bold and splendid attempt at explaining the workings of mother nature. By way of introduction, my name is Peter Zaato, a graduate of the university of Ghana - Legon. I come from Nandom in the upper west region of Ghana. I am currently a banking executive in one of the new banks. My interets are in politics, social justice and intellectual discourses.


peter_23
6/1/2007 2:59:17 AM

This is one of the most informed presentation on mother earth I have ever read.






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