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The Revenge Of Gaia



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I'm part reading The Revenge of Gaia at the moment. It’s about the 4th book sitting on my bed side table, so if my main book(s) bore me it is possible for me to get down to it to browse.


A quote in the introduction by Sir Crispin Tichell caught my imagination and I've been mulling it round my mind for a bit.


The earth system behaves as a single, self regulating system, comprised of physical, chemical, biological and human components. The interactions and feedbacks between the components parts are complex and exhibit multiscale temporal and spatial variability.


The Revenge of Gaia page xiv.


I totally agree with the second sentence but the first one troubles me: "a single, self regulating system"?


For all the obscure reasons I am what I am I've been trying to re-word that first sentence and doing so expanded my thoughts surrounding the hugely complex issues of humanity's role in altering and sustaining the world's ecology.


So here goes! Obviously I loose a lot of the erudition and pithiness of the original, but that's just me!


The earth is not a closed, in-equilibrium, regulated system, rather it can be considered to holistically contain, multiple, mutually interacting, influencing and constraining parts comprised of physical, chemical, biological and human components which also interact with the sun, comets, asteroids and other planetry objects in orbit about it and also with the wider cosmos. The interactions and feedbacks between the component parts are complex and exhibit multiscale temporal and spatial variability. These multiple, dynamic, non-equilibrium factors give the earth both its robustness, but also it’s contingent uniqueness which humanity as a sentient component has a duty not to disrupt with consequences for itself and the other parts of the system.


After writing that I then sort of carried on inspired by these thoughts:


The chemistry of life provides the ability to gain and pass on knowledge through natural selection and inheritance. With this life then gained an awareness of change, or memory, and so became able to react to circumstances, then - via a flip from the past to the future - foresight and action. It seems likely that the simplest amoebas gained these characteristics early in earth's history. Humanity's inheritance is to have extended these gifts to such an extent that our sentience is viewed by some as irreducibly unique. I rather see it as a part of the spectrum of life.


Humanity is sentient. We have a conception of our place in the universe, but then again carried lock away in its RNA so does a virus, and amoebas know when it is too hot, too bright, or too noxious. We are not so unique, but still in life's spectrum we can see further than all other forms of life yet discovered, and we should use that vision to try and improve our situation while not so disrupting the rest of this earth as to drive it and us so far from its current situation as to put the whole at risk.


I enjoyed writing it and the thoughts its stimulated in me, and so thought I’d share them! Hence putting it down in here!




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