In this classic work that continues to inspire many readers, Jim Lovelock puts forward his idea that the Earth functions as a single organism. Written for non-scientists, Gaia is a journey through time and space in search of evidence in support of a radically different model of our planet. In contrast to conventional belief that life is passive in the face of threats to its existence, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth explores the hypothesis that the Earth's living matter influences air, ocean, and rock to form a complex, self-regulating system that has the capacity to keep the Earth a fit place for life.
Since Gaia was first published, Jim Lovelock's hypothesis has become a hotly debated topic in scientific circles. In a new preface to this edition, he outlines his view of the present state of the debate.
Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.
2: In the beginning
3: The recognition of Gaia
5: The contemporary atmosphere
6: The sea
7: Gaia and Man: the problem of pollution
8: Living within Gaia
Definitions and explanations of terms
James Lovelock, who was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974, is the author of more than 200 scientific papers and the originator of the Gaia Hypothesis (now Gaia Theory). His many books on the subject include Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (1979), The Revenge of Gaia (2006), The Vanishing Face of Gaia (2009) and A Rough Ride to the Future (2014). In 2003 he was made a Companion of Honour by Her Majesty the Queen, in 2005 Prospect magazine named him one of the world's top 100 public intellectuals, and in 2006 he received the Wollaston Medal, the highest Award of the UK Geological Society.
"Daring, exciting, original."
– Scientific American
"Jim Lovelock, a man as inventive and ingenious as he is lively and unorthodox, places a daring hypothesis before the general reader, a kind of geochemical myth for our time.. [His book] is the exciting personal argument of an original thinker caught in wonder. It wins and repays attention."
– Scientific American
"Lovelock writes beautifully. A book that is both original and well written is indeed a bonus. Only a genius thinks of the obvious, and Lovelock deserves to be described as a genius."
– New Scientist
"The breath-taking sweep of his central idea – that the earth is a living, self-regulating organism – poses the most dramatic challenger to scientists, politicians, and environmentalists."
– Jonathon Porritt