Gaia and Climate Change

10 01 2015


Today an article I wrote on Gaia and climate change was published in The Ecologist [link here]. The article summarizes my thoughts and concerns around the science of climate change. This is the comment and discussion thread for that article.




9 responses

10 01 2015

I do think it’s concerning for example, that the iPCC didn’t address Lovelock’s allegations of plagiarism and the models have been anything but consistent but come are are you serious about this? The sea ice growth in the Antarctic might have grown in area, but not depth. Just as the world lost six California’s worth of forest from 2000-2013 and where Brazil has slowed down, Canada has speed up deforestation. Not to mention indicator species like bees and Monarch butterflies are endangered and while these might not be directly related to climate change, they are related to how we are treating the earth as a machine, and therefore we are creating conditions not for life to flourish into the future, but in fact for machines and bots. I don’t doubt that some of the models climatologists have used have been seriously flawed, and this might be because of how experimental biologist Rupert Sheldrake has shown how many scientists tailor research conventions to smooth out the data, obscuring wide variations to fit in with their conception of eternal laws, something Mary Midgley pointed out well in her Guardian review of Sheldrake’s book in 2012. But Sheldrake was not showing how that was used to fudge climate change studies, it had to do with the speed of light. In any case, I think many people are scared of climate change now, not just because of what the models are saying, but what they are seeing in the real world, for example the Dark Sea Ice of Greenland, and the methane flares in Siberia. The world just can not go on this way with the status quo. I think what is interesting about Gaia theory, is how if we choose to, we can become a regenerative species and drawdown carbon back into the soil, buildings, etc. Where it should really be. But it’s by no means a inevitable. Humans are a truly young species on the earth, we are toddlers with matches as Janine Benyus says. We can’t expect the earth to put up with us abusing her this way forever. And the earth is not the center of the universe. Really the precautionary principle should take priority above all else here…

11 01 2015
Bob Lapsley

Here,here! “Really the precautionary principle should take priority above all else here…”

12 01 2015
Lee Klinger

Thanks for your comment. Yes, I am serious about this. You say that Antarctic sea ice has not grown in thickness. Citation? The latest findings I can find suggest Antarctic sea ice has grown in thickness. Yes, there is deforestation occurring many areas, and there is also forest expansion in areas of fire suppression and abandoned agricultural lands. It is the GLOBAL balance of forest cover that is relevant here. That is where we could use more data.

I’m unaware of the meaning of your reference to the IPCC and Lovelock. Please clarify.

Also, I’m not sure why you invoke the precautionary principle. My article discusses the theoretical basis for the science of climate change. The precautionary principle applies to actions. It is not an element of the scientific method.

12 01 2015

“It is the GLOBAL balance of forest cover that is relevant here.” As you know, there are seven billion people on the planet now. China used more cement in the last three years, then the US used in the entire twentieth century. ( Cement has as an astronomical climate impact, especially if it’s not designed to suck more carbon in, and while natural hydraulic limes can, cheaper Portland cement doesn’t. And China is buying lots of lumber too, make no mistake about it. And I haven’t even got to India yet…
Sources: (Forests)
(Sea Ice)
(Indicator species)

13 01 2015
Raymond Yarwood

It is to be welcomed that attempts are being undertaken at unifying the large but disparate bodies of knowledge influencing our perceptions of the earth and its services, 100 yrs after first being proposed by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler Professor of Geology at Harvard.
Remembered for his observations that; ‘ Soil, ever slipping away in streams to the sea, is a kind of placenta, that enables living things to feed upon the earth. In farming man undertakes to ‘ make the earth fit to bear the life to come.’
He went on to predict that ‘ Seing, as he must, because it is written on earth and sky, the oneness of Nature and intelligence as its master, man is sure to go forward unto a sense, of which we barely see traces in our time, of his duty by the earth. Instinctively our ancestors appreciated this unity no better expressed than in Walt Whitman’s poem, ‘This Compost’ written in the mid – nineteenth century. Now that man has the tools revelations are proceeding a pace, all uncovering an intelligence and unity in Nature. Within the Earth’s placenta we have the ‘World Wide Web’ operating within the soil connecting 95% of plants within a settled earth’, providing intelligence, mining and transportation of elements and water and protecting the young while warning others of predation. Similarly we have recent revelations of the human placenta where an intelligent organ delivers nutrients to the developing foetus as and when required, protects when smoke is detected and gives of its own substance when the mother is fasting as observed in hospitals during the festival of Ramadin. The association between plants and beneficia fungil is well known but more recent discoveries have included viruses as key members of the partnership. Our own genome is seen to be more modest that we first thought and we now know how many of our genes are shared with the lower animals. This may be humbling to some or encouraging dependent on how well the emerging paradigm of Earth as mother is understood.
Within the last two years I have found the work of Eric Schneider and Dorion Sagan in their joint book ‘Into the Cool – Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life’ – useful in unifying the sciences as they look at life on earth. Best Wishes in your quest
Raymond Yarwood Cornwall UK

13 01 2015
Lee Klinger

Thanks for the link to the IPCC and Lovelock issue. I sense that your take on the subject of Gaia and climate change is that you support the idea that the earth is a living system and, like Lovelock, that it is in a sickly state. You may be correct. I believe that the relative health of the earth, particularly as it pertains to climate regulation, is still an open question.

13 01 2015
Lee Klinger

Insightful comment! The soil of Gaia is a topic I hold dear. Wait until people get their minds around the the role of peatland soils in global regulation, jaws will drop. Ice ages, cavern formation, supergene landscapes – much will become clearer. In the meantime, let’s take baby steps in understanding soils on the living earth. For instance, here’s my investigation on the role of peatland soils the coupling of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

13 01 2015

Indeed, but I think the planet being in a sickly state is far from an opinion, it’s a fact. For example, earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years ( and we are in a sixth mass extinction event put into play because of our species actions on this earth. Speaking of soil, we might have reached peak soil too ( As far as the climate system itself goes, you may be right that it’s still largely an open question, because we don’t know all of the feedback’s just yet, but I don’t think it should stop us from transitioning civilization off of fossil fuels. The current OPEC situation is a perfect example of this; and the lengths they will go to control the global marketplace. Not to mention we are also using more and more oil with a smaller energy return on energy investment ratio. When animals expend more energy foraging than they obtain from plant food sources, they die! And again I go back to the precautionary principle. Luckily for us solar is reaching grid parity nearly everywhere on the planet, soon (without subsides now) and fusion energy is likely less than 15 years away. We also have a renewed interest in organic and regenerative systems of agriculture and returning carbon to the soil, as well as regenerative forms of architecture and city planning.

6 12 2018
Michael A. Lewis

Excellent article, Lee. I share your perspective.

I agree there are far more reasons other than climate variability to abandon finite energy resources and find a pathway to renewable energy, albeit at a far lower rate of consumption. Extensive wind and solar “farms” require extensive mining, manufacture, transportation and maintenance that have their own significant environmental impacts.

I agree with Freeman Dyson that soil sare a key component of the global CO2 cycle that has been ignored and threatened by global monocropping and dependence on artificial fertilizers.

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