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The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  226 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
The Earth, James Lovelock proposes, behaves as if it were a superorganism, made up from all the living things and from their material environment. When he first sketched out his brilliant Gaia theory in the 1970s, people around the world embraced it; within a short time Gaia has moved from the margins of scientific research to the mainstream. James Lovelock argues that suc ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published September 1st 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1988)
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Ruth
May 10, 2015 Ruth rated it liked it
I found this book to be a very mixed bag for me. In places funny, in others extremely dry and confusing. Some chapters flow beautifully, while others one has to drag oneself through. Overall, I guess one could think of planet earth as the entity he describes, and if looking at the our planet in this way would help some people to act, vote, talk, behave differently, I am all for it. But otherwise, what's the point?

I also wonder about the sources he used, the scientists whose work he references. S
...more
John Esterly
Nov 03, 2014 John Esterly rated it liked it
The second of Lovelock's books that I've read, this one was much more technical and more difficult to read than his other, The Vanishing Face of Gaia. I chose to read this one because of the mention of Daisyworld in Vanishing Face, a statistical model of a world inhabited by a combination of white and black daisies that work to control the overall temperature and climate of their planet by their numbers, effecting the albedo of the planet. Daisyworld is mentioned in passing in Vanishing Face; in ...more
R.Z.
Apr 12, 2015 R.Z. rated it it was amazing
I was introduced to Lovelock's Gaia theory many years ago, and although I went on to thinking about many other theories of life on earth, I never forgot Gaia. So, when doing research for writing my next novel, I went back to studying further the writings of James Lovelock's many books. Beginning with The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of our Living Earth, I felt that this would be the place to begin. I was not disappointed. Lovelock tells us what is known and what is not known, and why we need not co ...more
John Weibull
Aug 17, 2007 John Weibull rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
The classic work by James Lovelock introduces us to the Gaia hypothesis that our planet earth is a coherent system of life, self-regulating and shifting, an almost independent living organism.
Dimitris Hall


It took me many months to finally finish The Ages of Gaia. I suppose it's because a lot of it was dry in the way scientific writing is dry to people who are not scientists but wish they could understand what scientists say. Daisyworld, for example, is an interesting supposition and thought experiment on how planetary phenomena influence and are influenced by life on a smaller scale --- an idea that today seems typically banal but was novel at the time it was brought forward. I understand it intu
...more
David Drum
Sep 06, 2011 David Drum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Lovelock’s The Ages of Gaia, a Biography of the Living Earth, fleshes out his idea that all of life on Earth—including the rocks--is in fact one living self-regulating organism.
Is this even possible? To illustrate how it might work, Lovelock postulates a simple model of light and dark colored daisies, called Daisyworld, where populations of daisies increase and decrease according to how much sunlight the planet receives. His argument moves back to the Archean age approximately 3.6 billion
...more
Faye
Jun 13, 2011 Faye rated it liked it
Initially Lovelock recounts the story of how he came up with the Gaia principle. He is in his fifties and working on instruments that will study the environments of Venus and Mars. His attention is turned toward the Earth and its ability to promote biological life as we know it. Cyanobacteria were the first producers to use sunlight and replicate themselves. Are we recreating the conditions under which they thrived initially in the shallow waters of Lake Champlain?
He talks about the successful
...more
Dan
Mar 24, 2014 Dan rated it liked it
This is the second book written by Lovelock and the Gaia hypothesis and I enjoyed them both. Even after reading two books on the topic I still have trouble explaining to others just what it is. I do believe that the idea of a living Earth is a extremely beneficial of observing the planet and to me that is what this idea is all about. The books starts with a lot of rather in depth questioning and speculating on how life has effected the Earth, particularity it's atmosphere over geologic time. It ...more
Saroya
Dec 16, 2014 Saroya rated it it was amazing
Excellent look at the environmental changes of planet Earth from pre-history to the late 20th century.
Benjamin
Apr 17, 2008 Benjamin rated it liked it
This book was okay. It got me interested in the beginnings of life on earth, and now I have a whole stack of books about that next to my bed, so that is good. Lovelock is a bit of a nut, though. I'm not a scientist so the Gaia idea doesn't threaten some deep need to keep my discipline separate from some other discipline. It's ironic that environmentalists are into his Gaia trip, when he's all into nuclear power and keeps referring to CFCs as harmless. I love the chapter on Mars though. Lately, I ...more
Mason
Mar 25, 2008 Mason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly complex in its scientific jargon but very illuminating if you like revolutionary ideas. Most scientists will dismiss you immediately when you bring up Gaia but the ideas are just as well based on evidence as the foundations of geology, climatology, or physics. This brings all of those together and that is what needs to happen. To much science is carried out in isolated disciplines which don't know what eacho ther are talking about. Great read but surprisingly difficult.
Jen
Apr 03, 2011 Jen rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I viewed the 'save the planet' bandwagon differently since reading this. The planet will protect itself, it is mankind that will disappear if it continues to use up all that is needed for its survival. But Daisyworld itself will self heal and continue long after our species have self destructed. I will file this under 'science' but it does raise many philosophical questions too.
Mark
Aug 05, 2012 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in the Earth Sciences
Recommended to Mark by: Me
Lovelock tries to make a stronger case for the Earth as a living system (Gaia Hypothesis) with the use of the, e.g., computer
'Daisy' model. Also includes an interesting chapter near the end of the book on how one might seed or tera-form Mars.
Joseph Gendron
Feb 13, 2014 Joseph Gendron rated it liked it
The book was a very good introduction to GAIA and how it has changed over the eons. Lots of food for thought sprinkled throughout the book along with a good dose of science.
Dereck
Aug 27, 2007 Dereck rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, sift
This was an amazing eye opener. You'll read this, and you'll either think the guy is an absolute nut, or you'll be amazed and never look at the earth the same again.
Amy
Jun 20, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
New perspective on Mother Earth -- truly insightful for those who are unfamiliar with Gaia.
Mateo
Jan 09, 2008 Mateo rated it it was amazing
I was a philosophy student. I read this and Dune. I switched to Environmental Geology.
Rianna
Aug 01, 2010 Rianna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
not the book I thought it would be, interesting topic though
Sally
Jun 19, 2008 Sally marked it as to-read-library-has  ·  review of another edition
what truth may he portray?....
Steve
Jun 15, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing
Brilliant.
Lauchlin
Dec 19, 2013 Lauchlin rated it really liked it
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

James Ephraim Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS, is an independent scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist, and futurist who lives in Devon, England. He is known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, in which he postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system.
More about James E. Lovelock...

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