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The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  278 ratings  ·  25 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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3.83  · 
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 ·  278 ratings  ·  25 reviews


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Adrian G Hilder
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read an earlier edition of this book sometime in the mid 1990s.
A logical, illuminating and sometimes surprising look at how Earth and life on it evolved to what it is today and how it (probably) works as a biosphere.
Gaia knows how to preserve life on Earth, but that's not the same thing as preserving the human race on Earth.
James Lovelock's analyses of life on Earth was born out of his mission to try and detect life on Mars n the 1960s. While others were building cages to trap insects (I know,
...more
Ruth
Jan 20, 2015 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 Weibull
Aug 17, 2007 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.
John Szalasny
My daughter had this as a secondary reading source for an environmental science class. But for the most part, there is no environmentalist agenda in the book, and the lack of footnotes makes even the science suspect.
I agree with many of the previous reviews of this classic book. It is very hard to read for most of the book. Some sections flow for the common reader, but the limited reference list makes it unsuitable as a rigidly scientific text. This edition is an update from the original text. M
...more
Julian Sanchez
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good reference for who wants to research an interesting theory about the life of the planet and to learn Her history and the differents way whose makes possible the life.
Stephen Coates
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Having read Lovelock's "Gaia, a New Look at Life on Earth" a few years prior, I read this and while I also enjoyed it, my recollection is that it didn't add as much to the first book as I was hoping.
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
Faye
Sep 27, 2010 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
R.Z.
Apr 12, 2015 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
David Drum
Sep 06, 2011 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
Dan
Jan 06, 2014 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
Benjamin
Apr 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: biology
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 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 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 04, 2012 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.
Dereck
Aug 03, 2007 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.
Saroya
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent look at the environmental changes of planet Earth from pre-history to the late 20th century.
Steve
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant.
Mateo
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was a philosophy student. I read this and Dune. I switched to Environmental Geology.
Amy
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
New perspective on Mother Earth -- truly insightful for those who are unfamiliar with Gaia.
Rianna
Jul 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
not the book I thought it would be, interesting topic though
Joseph Gendron
Dec 10, 2013 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.
Lauchlin
Dec 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
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Anna Morgan
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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.