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That is fine for Gaia, which looks after itself, but spells calamity for humankind. Lovelock believes that jumping to a hot climate is probably inevitable and that most of the Earth will become desert. Human beings, if they are clever enough to save themselves, will be able to survive only in the most northern and southern land masses and on a few islands, including the British Isles. This hot new world will support at most a billion people.

Thus for Lovelock the programme undertaken with the Kyoto Protocol to try to limit warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions is catastrophically foolish. We should be concentrating on how to adapt to the hotter world. Even if it is not too late to stop global warming, Lovelock cannot contain his scorn for the promoters of wind farms and biofuels and for the silly people who adopt a green lifestyle to lower their carbon footprints. Instead of windmills and fuel from crops, which will enrich special interest groups without reducing emissions, Lovelock argues that the only effective measures are geo-engineering (that is, climate modification by means such as adding aerosols to the upper atmosphere or increasing algae growth in the oceans) and a crash programme to build nuclear reactors.

It is with Lovelock's enthusiasm for nuclear power that his fundamental disagreement with and antipathy for the Green movement becomes most apparent. The Greens have turned people against nuclear power with "a concatenation of lies". Ironically, Lovelock acknowledges that he played a small but essential role in creating modern environmentalism. His invention of the electron capture detector in 1957 provided Rachel Carson with evidence that industrial toxins were present in everything, including human tissue. Lovelock points out that everyone knows that the dose makes the poison. Minute traces of chemicals pose no threat to human beings, nor do the low levels of radiation found in nuclear waste. The most potent carcinogen, Lovelock observes, is oxygen.

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Lorna Salzman
February 3rd, 2013
4:02 PM
Those under-schooled and under-informed about science, nature and the environment are hasty in embracing scientists like James Lovelock and Freeman Dyson (both physicists, by the way, not biologists, which explains a lot about their rose-colored glasses vision of the earth). The English love eccentrics of course and are quick to smell them out and take advantage of their speculations. I use this word intentionally because the speculations or hypotheses of individual scientists are no more reliable than those of conspiracy theorists. Not coincidentally, Lovelock's fault understanding of evolution shows itself unashamedly with regard to his cockeyed Gaian theory. Many of the earth's systems do self-regulate but the reason is because evolution and natural selection put a premium on behavioral adaptation by individuals in all species. The main difference is that evolution ONLY acts on organisms in the context of EXISTING conditions; it cannot predict the future and what new conditions might arise. Therefore, the notion that the earth regulates itself is meaningless. Nor does natural selection apply to the earth as a whole but only to individuals within populations and species, whose ability to adapt to PRESENT conditions gives them a reproductive edge and allows them to perpetuate themselves; of course their progeny may be forced to adapt to completely different conditions. Lovelock is a good source of what is little more than "pop science". He is a good self-promoter. But he is a poor biologist and ecologist, and has nothing more substantial to offer us than our local gossip columnist.

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