Claudia's Reviews > The Revenge of Gaia

The Revenge of Gaia by James E. Lovelock
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's review
Jul 16, 2011

did not like it
Read from October 29 to 30, 2011

I was greatly anticipating this book. Back in Southern California growing up in the 1970's, I heard about the Theory or Concept of Gaia and it appealed to my nascent earth based philosophy. The Gaia Concept postulates that the Earth is a living organism with interdependent systems. Picture if you will, the atmosphere as Her lungs, the oceans as her circulatory system and you get the idea.

This idea neatly dove tailed with my personal philosophy (still intact) that everything and everyone is related.

The activities of nasty greedy humans with tunnel vision in gun-ho pursuit of short term profits have thrown all of this out of balance (all too true). We pack on her back a city the size of Pittsburgh every year seemingly without being aware that there is simply not enough food or materials to support a burgeoning population of this magnitude.

Empowered by the Christian concept that we are stewards of the planet and it is our God given right to have dominion over the plants, and animals, the Earth has become a possession, ours to own and sell, mine, pollute and blast the tops off of mountains to get at deep coal.

I never believed this and never believed in the private ownership of land. And, no I am not a Communist, the government shouldn't own the land, no one should. It is presumptuous in the extreme to think that man can presume to OWN a piece of the planet. We were born on the Earth and have a right to live on the Earth, but not to pollute and ruin the air, the oceans and the rivers and streams.

Naturally, believing as I do, or did--I am just not sure anymore...I was looking forward, savoring reading the words of who I had perceived as an intellectual kindred soul.

Instead, I found the ravings of a madman--psychotic at best, or worse--sociopathic.

The book is chauvinistically Anglo-centric. Right away claxons sounded in my mind. He crows that his "Queen" opened the first nuclear power plant in the 1950's. How quaint. He then proceeds to divulge that there was a rather large radiation leak, but no worries, no cancer! This leak was kept secret and never told, until, presumably, now. Of course it would be difficult to perform retro-research after so many years to see if any bizarre cancers clustered downwind from the leak. But he assures us that there were none. Ok...

The way I see it is that tribal thinking, short term greed, and fanatical patriotism put blinders on us and enhanced our tunnel vision. As long as MY TRIBE gets what it needs, gets the good stuff, has the best weapons arsenal, gets to the moon first and has AAA credit rating and we are a First World Nation, then if our acid rain or choking miasmas float over your village, too bad! And it is not just the USA with this world view. Every industrial country operates this way, starting with England's Colonialism and Industrial Revolution, and continuing on to this day with China.

He lost me by page 97 and I started howling shortly after that.

He debunks Rachel Carson and her seminal book ("The Silent Spring") on the adverse effect of DDT on bird eggs. He lamented the cessation of use of DDT on a limited basis as it was so "useful". Sure there is collateral damage to bird eggs, but not enough for Rachel Carson to write about. Ok...And I guess, today, it is ok that some bees are dying off?

Lovelock advocates that the only way to save our planet is to generate electricity by nuclear power. What? Does he mean nuclear power plants built by the lowest bidder? Where to build them? Along the San Andreas Fault? Near shorelines where Tsunamis can strike? And where are we to dispose of nuclear waste? What about Three Mile Island and Chernobyl? Not that bad, he says. Ok...He justifies that low level radiation, the equivalent of Europe receiving x-rays only decreases our life span by a few days at best and aren't European Nations wondering how to pay pensions to "ancient citizens" anyway?

He bristled that his beloved England was censored by the Nordic Nations over acid rain falling on their land in the 1970's, but then goes on a bizarre tangent and says that acid rain clouds stagnantly hovering over European cities is a good thing because the presence of these clouds cools the earth.

Lovelock wants to recreate the disastrous Mt. Pinatubo eruption in the Philippine Islands in 1991. (I personally saw some of the displaced, the refugees, did you Mr. Lovelock?--Apparently not). He advocates requiring airliners to release sulphur as they fly to decrease global warming. (The atmosphere of Venus, anyone?).

He finally states that as Gaia nears her end of being able to support the creatures (and yes, his compassion justifies my use of this term), that we synthesize our food. (Soylent Green, anyone?). Sure we will be tribal and the elite will eat real meat cooked with sauces, but hey, what the heck... right?

In a bizarre atavistic conclusion to save his beloved England (which he thinks can survive the coming cataclysm) he advocates once again, dividing 'All of Gaul into Three Parts': 1. cities, roads and airports, 2. Farmland 3. Gaia Space--off limits to humans.

I agree that the earth is reaching a point where it cannot sustain life as we know it any longer. But I think that humans . My compassion and humanism is too strong to be able to swallow his notion of shunting aside humans to save the earth at all costs. He is completely devoid of compassion and thinks nothing of saving the earth, at the expense of humans.

Have we reached the point of no return? Judging by the political rhetoric coming from world leaders, the pessimist in me says absolutely; the romantic, naive Southern California 1970's beach chick surely hopes not. But what is a given is that our climate is changing, the earth is ailing and cannot continue to support the machinations of corporate greed, rampant consumerism, and untrammeled pollution, rape and pillage. We are all in this together, everyone and everything is related. The earth is not ours to own and exploit, it never was. But what to do, hopefully before it is too late? Nuclear power--is this REALLY OUR BEST solution? Beam me up Scotty....Or give me a Yurt to plunk down somewhere in the Arctic, the only place that may be able to support human life in the near future.

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Reading Progress

10/29/2011 page 1
04/17/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Fernando (new) - added it

Fernando Justicia-carvajal Still to read the book, but the public needs to understand more about nuclear power. The only thing close to " renewable energy" we have ...

Jonathan Walliser Excellent review and it is sad he is or was that brainwashed by junk technology

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