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Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences$
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Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226569871

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226570075.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 05 December 2019

James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis

James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis

Archetypical Visionary

Chapter:
(p.272) 17 James Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis
Source:
Dreamers, Visionaries, and Revolutionaries in the Life Sciences
Author(s):

Sébastien Dutreuil

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226570075.003.0018

After a career as a chemist and engineer, James Lovelock proposed the Gaia hypothesis in the 1970s with Lynn Margulis, a biologist. The hypothesis highlights the important influence that living beings have on their geological environment to speculate about the possibility of a regulation of the planetary environment. From the beginning Lovelock saw Gaia as a grand idea, challenging the way biology and geology should be carried out, up to our very conception of nature. This chapter recalls the rich context in which the hypothesis was elaborated in the 1960s and 1970s. It then traces Gaia’s contrasted reception. Whereas evolutionary biologists ridiculed it as a pseudo-metaphor comparing the earth with an organism, Gaia has generated new research programs in the earth sciences and has been embraced by the environmental counterculture as a new conception of nature and of our relationships with the earth.

Keywords:   Gaia hypothesis, James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis, global environment, environmental counterculture, earth system science, Daisyworld, DMS, IGBP, anthropocene

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