James Lovelock’s Gaia-Theory! Is it useful?

Dr. Arnd Bernaerts
3 min readJan 17, 2021

An outstanding scientist took a look on the Atlantic and outlined the Gaia hypothesis since the 1960s, assuming that “Gaia depends on organic life”. Gaia is the primordial Greek goddess, and the mother of all life. Her son Pontus was the god of all seas. Lovelock’s highly imaginative choice emphasized the comparability between the structure of global nature and man.

Has Gaia had a big impact on a better understanding of climate change matter? Not much unfortunately. The general climatic change debate ever since took little notice of Gaia, neither of Lovelock’ critical view on main stream science, calling them “corrupt” (The Guardian, 1989), and requiring “to recognize that science has grown fat, lazy, and corrupt and, like an obese atherosclerotic man, imagines that more rich food will cure his condition”, (The Independent, 1989), to no avail. Gaia’s impact on the climate change debate is hardly recognizable up today. Did Lovelock pay too little attention to Pontus?

The preface of his book GAIA (ed.1987) explains in how the hypothesis came about: “I first started this book when on holiday in Ireland in 1975. Most of it came to mind when walking or sitting on the warm, red sandstone of Hungry Hill. There was one rock that had an unusually leasing prospect of Beare Island and the end of Bantry Bay as it merged into the broad Atlantic”. Although his big picture was the Atlantic, Gaia’s son Pontus meant not much to him, as confirmed by this notion on page 124 that:

“The Gaia hypothesis, on the other hand, started with observations of the Earth’s atmosphere and other inorganic properties.”, underling few pages later (p.130): [To]…a clear understanding and knowledge of our territorial limits within Gaia would be essentially, and the most scrupulous care would need to be taken to maintain the integrity of those key regions which are found to regulate the planetary health.” Should his immediate answer been: water, water, water and the god of the seas, and that Pontus should feel understood and respected?

Lovelock’s writing is at the nexus of science, politics, and the climate crisis, mixing mysticism and physical factors. Instead focus should lay on Pontus. His empire reins climate. Historical personalities have emphasized it. For example, Leonardo da Vinci, (1452–1519): “Water is the driving force of all nature”. Water is the driver of climate! Climate science is still far away acknowledging this. With more attention to Pontus’ might, James Lovelock would have had a much strong instrument, to push meteorology and climatology out of their still too narrow climate picture. The oceans will go on to dominate climate, and Pontus is unknown for being generous in forgiveness.

In addition two essays from 1993 + 1994: