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Blatantly dishonest opposition to nuclear power is not, however, the heart of Lovelock's hatred of what he calls the "urban green ideology" and which he describes as perhaps the most deadly and most environmentally damaging of all ideologies. Lovelock has spent most of his life working as an independent scientist, that quaintest of callings, partly because it suits his quirky character, but largely because it has allowed him to live in that quaintest of locales, the English countryside. He deeply loves the landscape that has been intensively managed by people since time out of mind and that he has watched over the course of his life being destroyed by mechanised agriculture. Now, what's left is being obliterated by hundreds of thousands of acres of crops to produce biofuels, and the views are being ruined by gigantic windmills.

Lovelock blames this destruction on "urban imperialist infiltrators" who know nothing of the beauties of plants and animals or the pleasures of country life and who have been duped by the Greens into thinking that the worst things imaginable are trace pesticides in their food, or electricity provided by politically incorrect sources. As a countryman who is passionate about the country and who sees citification as the greatest threat to what is best in being human, Lovelock draws on a much deeper stream of Western culture than is present in his Gaia theory. He partakes of the tradition represented by Henry Williamson and J. R. R. Tolkien in England in the 20th century and by Coleridge and Wordsworth in the 19th.

I recommend The Vanishing Face of Gaia as a book worth reading, despite the fact that I disagree with both Lovelock and the conventional alarmists that global warming is a crisis. I agree with Lovelock on consensus, the computer models and on the primacy of observation. But he seems unaware of the wide array of observational evidence that does not support his position. For example, he quotes one study that sea levels are now rising at a rate much faster than the models predict. That study is not supported by the scientific literature or by the satellite measurements of sea levels that have recently become available. Lovelock is not alone in this: my experience is that global warming alarmism depends on cherry-picking the evidence.

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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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