Focus on climate change, biodiversity, and pollution relative to other interests.




"A 'sustainable retreat' sounds a bit like wearing a sackcloth."

James Lovelock

“Let us forget human concerns, human rights, and human suffering, and concentrate instead on our planet, which may be sick.” Healing Gaia, 18

"[I]t is much too late for sustainable development; what we need is a sustainable retreat." The Revenge of Gaia

James Lovelock in 2005. source: wikimedia

Lovelock's first publication of writing on 'Gaia' letter to the editor of Atmospheric Environments.  Earth is described as a unitary living organism: “The purpose of this letter is to suggest that life at an early stage of its evolution acquired the capacity to control the global environment to suit its needs and that this capacity has persisted and is still in active use.  ...[It] is an entity with properties greater than the simple sum of its parts.  Such a large creature, even if only hypothetical, with the powerful capacity to homeostat the planetary environment, needs a name; I am indebted to Mr. William Golding for suggesting the use fo the Greek personification of Mother Earth, 'Gaia.'” The atmosphere, comprised and altered by living organisms, “is a biological contrivance, a part and a property of Gaia.” Letter to the Editor

This concept of homeostasis means that humans have to stay out of the way.  Lovelock upholds the state of Gaian homeostasis to be the ultimate goal, and rejects human-centered visions of Earth's ecosystem maintanence: “The concept of Gaia has been intuitively familiar throughout history and perhaps only recently has it been distorted by anthropocentric rationalisations.  One of these, fashionable in discourse upon the 'Environment' is that we are travellers within the 'Spaceship Earth' and that the biosphere is there as a 'life-support system', presumably for our special benefit.  Analogies of this form are used in considerations of the possible consequences of species deletions, destructive changes of the land surfaces by farming and pollution.  They are both misleading and unnecessary as a replacement for the older concept of the Earth as a very large living creature, Gaia, several giga-years old, who has moulded the surface, the oceans and the air to suit her and for the very brief time we have been part of her, our needs.” Letter to the Editor
Lovelock explains that the “Gaia philosophy is not humanist,” Letter to the Editor and champions the concerns of Gaia over human interest.  The response, then, is to retreat: "We have.. to use [Earth] wisely, as Dr. Jekyll would do, with the health of the Earth, not the health of people, in mind.  This is why it is much too late for sustainable development; what we need is a sustainable retreat." The Revenge of Gaia


Climate Vision

Critics of Climate VISION argue that environmental health is treated as a far lower a priority than the financial security of the industries included in the initiative's agreements.  “While one might think that environmental enthusiasts would applaud this proposal, the only enthusiasts of this plan are those in the targeted industries.  This is because no change is mandatory, and it will most likely be of no benefit to the environment.” (Is President Bush's Vision Impaired?)  Further, the ratio-based measurement  allows for no changes in annual emission levels while still achieving the set goals.  “Nature does not respond to symbolic gestures,” said Lash. “As a response to the greatest environmental threat of the 21st century, this approach is timid, late, and unimaginative.”  (Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute in “WRI Cites Flaws in New White House Climate Initiative” 12 February 2003, accessed 6 July 2010.)


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