“Scientists once ridiculed the idea of a living planet. Not anymore.
“If Earth breathes, sweats and quakes — if it births zillions of organisms that ceaselessly devour, transfigure and replenish its air, water and rock — and if those creatures and their physical environments evolve in tandem, then why shouldn’t we think of our planet as alive?
“Humans are the brain — the consciousness — of the planet. We are Earth made aware of itself. Viewed this way, our ecological responsibility could not be clearer. By fuming greenhouse gases, we have not simply changed the climate; we have critically wounded a global life form and severely disrupted its biological rhythms. No other member of this living assembly has our privileged perspective. No one else can see the sinews and vessels of our planetary body. Only we can choose to help keep Earth alive.
“Gaia’s legacy can help us fulfill this responsibility. We can learn to recognize and amplify the planet’s innate climate-stabilizing processes. Earth has its own methods for storing carbon: A complex chain of chemical reactions involving plants, plankton and shellfish can lock atmospheric carbon in limestone. In addition to reducing carbon emissions, many Earth system scientists think we should study how to augment this natural sequestration and related processes.
“In recent years the Amazon rain forest has endured unusually intense and frequent droughts, which some scientists have linked to deforestation and forest fires. It would be easy to compartmentalize these ecological shifts as local tragedies, but that detachment is an illusion.
“Seen through the lens of Gaia, the Amazon’s plight is the draining of our communal veins and arteries. We must learn to feel its thirst viscerally. “We are a part of this Earth and we cannot therefore consider our affairs in isolation,” Dr. Lovelock wrote. “We are so tied to the Earth that its chills or fevers are our chills and fevers also.””
Read the full story by Ferris Jabr….
Image: JooHee Yoon