Gaia: The Growth of an Idea

Lawrence E. Joseph, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-312-04318-6
The Gaia hypothesis, which holds that planet Earth is a living, self-adjusting organism, continues to breed controversy. Is it a viable theory or a poetic metaphor? In this brisk journalistic report, science writer Joseph takes a critical yet sympathetic look at the scientific investigations underlying Gaian thought. ``The case against Gaia remains stronger by far than the case for Gaia,'' he concludes. Even so, he finds that the Gaian perspective--neither human- nor deity-centered--offers ``a secular alternative to the doctrine of humanism.'' The twists and turns of Gaian politics are deftly unraveled. British chemist James Lovelock, co-inventor of the Gaia theory, discovered that aerosol chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) accumulate in the Earth's atmosphere. Yet, for two decades, he scorned environmentalists' and scientists' warnings linking CFCs to depletion of the ozone layer, blinded by Gaia's supposed capacity to adjust to almost any situation. Joseph explores how the Gaian outlook has influenced feminism, goddess art, neopaganism and Green party ecopolitics. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 276 pages - 978-0-312-05866-1
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