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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... James Lovelock and his theory of a living, self-regulating Mother Earth. His influential book, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, was published thirty years ago.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood

(Music up and under)

CURWOOD: It's been 30 years since British scientist James Lovelock published Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, and his book remains influential and controversial today. Lovelock's Gaia theory is that the Earth, including its physical surface, oceans, and atmosphere, is a single, self-regulating super- organism. The idea, named after Gaia, the Greek Earth-goddess or Mother Earth, has been incorporated into New Age spirituality, and has been roundly criticized by many mainstream scientists. But over the decades it has gained some acceptance. The theory helps explain, and is supported by phenomena like forest fires, which reduce excess oxygen levels in the air, and ocean algae blooms, which can reduce excess carbon in the air. While Lovelock is most famous for his Gaia idea, he was also handy as a maker of a device which can detect pesticide residue in animals. The invention showed how chemicals spread through the food chain to creatures all over the world. The data provided evidence that gave fuel to Rachel Carson's fire and helped form a scientific foundation for her classic Silent Spring. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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