The Gaia Hypothesis

Today, in a conversation with my father-in-law, I learned about something new and of some interest to me. Apparently a British scientist (of some repute) came up with the Gaia Hypothesis. Am I the only person who hasn’t heard of this before?

James Ephraim Lovelock postulated that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system (Wikipedia). The Gaia Theory “proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.” Lovelock named the theory after the Greek primoridal gooddess who personified the Earth.

To be honest, the explanation of how Lovelock arrived at this theory is over my head. He was a dedicated scientist. I am simply an admirer of the field. And the explanation seems to involve so many areas of science that I’m quite scared to take it on. However, I must (for transparency’s sake) admit that it has been criticised a great deal and is still thought to be only weakly supported.

But for me it is intriguing and in my own airy fairy way I compared it to the Buddhist idea of Kharma. I don’t think the scientists in the room were overly impressed with this comparison and, having read the few paragraphs on Wikipedia, I can understand why. This is not an idea relating to bad behaviour and punishment, this is an idea to do with the actions and reactions of cells. It’s to do with self-preservation – like the way the human body can repair and/or protect itself from certain evils like heat, cold, lack of food, etc.

On Monday morning, as I scrolled through my trending articles, everything seemed to point to humans being controlled by nature, rather than the other way around. Extreme weather, plagues, population problems…. it was all there in a single day of news. Like Truman battling the artificial storm that was concocted specifically to keep him from finding the edge of his world, we are fighting against an Earth which is as determined to live on as any human battling a disease or a virus. With a little help, we can often win. I think Earth might get there too.

As I said, I can’t fully explain Lovelock’s theory but emotionally, I connect with it. Call that arty crap. Call it insanity. I don’t care. I’m siding with Gaia on this one.

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