For all you Global Warming non-believers, environmentalists, politicians, city dwellers, pet lovers, gas guzzlers, consumers, cheese eaters, gardeners, youngsters, oldsters, or hipsters, I only have one recommendation for todays’ post: Read James Lovelock’s new book The Vanishing Face of Gaia. A Final Warning. Too little, too late, a new hot world is coming, sooner than we think, and we can’t solar or wind-proof our way out of it. Lovelock says to prepare the lifeboats and come to agreement who will be in them, if that is even possible. There will be islands of refuge, tiny places, where only at best 100 million of us can survive.
Lovelock’s point is, of course, Gaia; that we’ve failed to take her into account. That our scientists measure and analyze her like she’s just a predictable rock, rather than a living force that fights back. That Gaia needs her forests and entire biosphere to keep her running and healthy, and that as humans, our main fault has been overpopulation and therefore overuse. It’s not that fossil fuels themselves are bad, its that we burn more than She can make. He makes the point that between all the humans, their pets and livestock, and the engine it takes to feed us, that’s almost half of all the CO2 produced! We are the sorcerer’s apprentice unable to solve the spell of technology and overpopulation we’ve unleashed.
Lovelock himself is an optimist by nature. So he looks for hope in the new world we might create while we live in a hotter place, with far less people.
I hope that all he says does not come true, that his calculations are off, that we’ll be able to come together to reduce our numbers, that breakthroughs will occur in practical science to help us. But his book strangely echoes the words from over 10 years ago of biology teachers I had. And it is quite obvious to those who see, that our small gestures of recycling, green goods, wind farms, ‘sustainable living’, or our grand conferences with promises for future reductions in 2050 cannot steer us much off course, if at all. Lovelock’s metaphor: “but are these, however well meant, any more than the posturing of tribal animals bravely wielding symbols against the menace of an ineluctable force they do not understand?”
Not a book for the fainthearted.