Activist and film maker Jack Harries assesses the influence of earth scientist and creator of Gaia theory, James Lovelock.
James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory, first put forward in the mid 1970s, was a ground-breaking hypothesis of how the earth works and one of the most influential ideas on 20th century environmentalism.
It proposed that the earth is one self-regulating system in which everything on the planet, living and non-living, interacts with each other to maintain the right conditions for life to exist. It’s quasi-spiritual sentiment captured the imagination of the New-Agers of the 1980s, sci-fi writers and philosophers, as well as a growing global environmental movement.
Lovelock’s idea has been a source of controversy within the scientific community. But many of his ideas about the impact of life, and humans in particular, on the environment have made their way into the scientific status quo.
Having recently celebrated his 100th birthday, the humble Lovelock continues to inspire. Environmental activist and filmmaker Jack Harries looks back on the career of this rare breed freelance scientist, and traces Gaia’s legacy across science and culture.
“As we discover more about humanities role in tipping the fragile balance of life on earth,” he says, “Lovelock’s Gaia theory becomes incredibly compelling.”
Producer: Emma Barnaby
Series Editor: David Prest
A Whistledown Production in association with The Open University.