Sunday, March 13, 2016

Reading Challenge Book 11: Gaia


Here's what has to say about the book I just finished:
"In this classic work that continues to inspire its many readers, James Lovelock deftly explains his idea that life on earth functions as a single organism. Written for the non-scientist, Gaia is a journey through time and space in search of evidence with which to support a new and radically different model of our planet."

Gaia: A New Look At Life On Earth
James Lovelock

A book that attempts to prove that Earth is a massive, living organism. Before I get into my feelings on the book, let me just give you the author's explanation of the Gaia Hypothesis. I won't re-type the entire explanation from the book's glossary, but these highlights should be sufficient to enable this post.
"...the physical and chemical condition of the surface of the Earth, of the atmosphere, and of the oceans has been and is actively made fit and comfortable by the presence of life itself...I now think that regulation, as a state fit for life, is a property of the whole evolving system of life, air, ocean, and rocks."
The idea that Mother Earth is not just a pretty phrase, but an actual deity, is one that truly resonates with me. It is a concept that is widely represented in the neopagan community. When I learned of this book and the Gaia Hypothesis, I was intrigued. James Lovelock attempts to use science to explain how the planet we live on could well be a massive organism, where entire species are functional systems of the cosmic body.

While both Amazon and Lovelock claim that this book is for the masses, it definitely gets wrapped up in the science of things. He does not necessarily postulate that Earth is a divinity, but makes the case for Earth as an organism. Now that I've finished the book I am curious to read what other author's have to say on the topic, although my personal interest lies more in the concept of Mother Earth.

This was a good read, and I already own two of Lovelock's later works on my Kindle app (I purchased them at the same time as Gaia). This was not an easy read, because science. I wanted to make sure I read a variety of texts this year, and this book certainly goes a long way to opening up the breadth of my reading. And while it wasn't exactly what I was looking for, it has opened my mind to an area of science I was previously unaware of.

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