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About this book
About this book
In Animate Earth Stephan Harding explores how Gaian science can help us to develop a sense of connectedness with the 'more-than-human' world. His work is based on a careful integration of rational scientific analysis with our intuition, sensing and feeling-a vitally important task at this time of severe ecological and climate crisis.
Stephan replaces the cold, objectifying language of science with a way of speaking of our planet as a sentient, living being rather than as a dead, inert mechanism. For example, chemical reactions are described using metaphors from human life, such as marriage, attraction, repulsion etc, so as to bring personality back into the world of rocks, atmosphere, water and living things. In this sense, the book is a contemporary attempt to rediscover anima mundi (the soul of the world) through Gaian science, whilst assuming no prior knowledge of science.
Animate Earth argues that we need to establish a right relationship with the planet as a living entity in which we are indissolubly embedded-and to which, in the final analysis, we are all accountable. The book inspires the reader to connect with a profound sense of the intrinsic value of the Earth, and to discover what it means to live as harmoniously as possible within a sentient creature of planetary proportions.
Anima mundi Encountering Gaia From Gaia hypothesis to Gaia theory Life and the elements Carbon journeys Life, clouds and Gaia From microbes to cell giants A planet on the brink Gaia and biodiversity Living well with Gaia
Dr Stephan Harding holds a doctorate in ecology from the University of Oxford. He is the Co-ordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College at Dartington, where he is also Resident Ecologist. He has worked alongside many of the world's leading experts on ecological thought and action, including James Lovelock, with whom he has collaborated for many years on the development of Gaian thinking. He lives in Dartington, Devon.
'A wonderful and beautiful book' - James Lovelock
'Animate Earth represents systems science at its best. I defy you not to be swept along by Stephan Harding's account of how the Earth's natural systems (particularly the carbon cycle) have evolved and of our part in them. In the process, he brings the concept of Gaia to life, not just in terms of the science, but philosophically and personally-giving a whole new dimension to what 'environment-friendly' really means.'
Jonathon Porritt, Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission
'The conception of the Earth as a living, self-organising system, known today as Gaia theory, is an ancient idea and yet one of the most radical and far-reaching scientific theories of the 20th century. In this remarkable book, Stephan Harding, who has worked closely with James Lovelock, tells the story in a way that is scientifically sophisticated, yet easy to understand and captivating. Harding writes about Gaia with great passion, and he eloquently discusses the theory's philosophical, social and political implications. I recommend Animate Earth to everyone concerned about the fate of our planet.'
Fritjof Capra, author of The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections
'Stephan Harding is one of the few people who knows how to link the science of Gaia with the spirit of Gaia. He shows us that we must understand Gaia not just as an idea in our heads; we must also experience ourselves as part of her living being... A brave book which may upset people from both sides of the divide he seeks to bridge-which makes it all the more essential reading for those seeking to respond to the challenges of our times.'
Peter Reason, Professor of Action Research Practice, School of Management, University of Bath
'For depth of understanding of Earth functioning and our human role in the process, Stephan Harding's Animate Earth is the finest of recent studies. It should be read, meditated on, and adopted as a guide to our human course of action if we would avoid the disaster of an ecological collapse of life on Earth.'
Thomas Berry, author of The Great Work and The Dream of the Earth