Kristen's Reviews > The Revenge of Gaia

The Revenge of Gaia by James E. Lovelock
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's review
Mar 14, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: earth-environment
Read in March, 2009

Two things I learned from this book: 1) the #1 cause of cancer is Oxygen, a person has a 30% chance of dying from cancer before they reach the expected life span of 70 years, and the only things that enhance the risk are smoking and multiple sun burns, but otherwise, we all have the same chance just from breathing; 2) using wind power, a top contender amongst environmentalists as a renewable energy source, could be more destructive to the Earth than we think.

I liked this book, and I like Lovelock's ideas. The theory of Gaia is that the Earth is a living, self-regulating system. This book warns that if we don't take care of Gaia, especially as she is aging and weakening, Gaia will "self-regulate" humans into extinction to save itself. Lovelock doesn't hold back in suggesting drastic actions which are hard or me to accept, such as the mass manufacturing of a "fake" food in factories to keep our bodies functioning without the need to use up the land for farming and cattle (personally, I like my "real" food, and I'm sure most of us do), and in situations like this he doesn't suggest ways to "please" the people, but then again his focus is not on people, it's on the Earth. And sociologically, I can't help but think that fake food, and some of his other ideas about changing city life may actually improve the human condition, maybe even eliminate hunger and homelessness all together.

Basically, Lovelock's goal is to communicate that drastic action is needed, and fast, and even then it will only give us a little extra time to completely change our lifestyles. One idea of this book is that even "green" thinkers are more worried about human needs than the needs of the Earth, and scientists have been cultured to be focused on the small picture, and more conservative in their ideas and what they push onto the public. And even in our best intentions, we often cause more harm than good. We all need to adapt a big picture vision of the living system of which we are a part or else the Earth is going to become a place unsuitable for human life. He offers a lot of ideas, some that have been developed but not implemented, and others that are still in the realm of science fiction, but may be realistic if adapted accordingly. Even though some of the ideas seem over the top, I strongly recommend this book for anyone (especially those in positions of power and ability to change) who wants to "save the world" or who considers themself "green," "organic," or an "environmentalist."
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