James Lovelock 1919 – 2022 was an environmentalist and futurist. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system. A popular sentiment among environmentalist and ecologists it may have served as a useful metaphor or as Lovelock stated “a kind of looking glass” or myth.
The hypothesis however held no sway in the scientific community as scientists questioned how natural selection operating on individual organisms can lead to the evolution of planetary-scale homeostasis.
Richard Dawkins was a leading opponent. The Gaia Hypothesis was dismissed on its publication in the 1970s.
“We may have argued about Gaia, but we never quarreled. I hope that Richard Dawkins is remembered as a savant. As an erstwhile Quaker I have no strong ideas about the God delusion. I was brought up to believe in God as the still small voice within.” James Lovelock
Retreat means making plans for the migration of millions of people from low-lying regions and admitting failure.
Retreat means leaving the Hawaiian Islands and Japanese Islands, Tokyo and Osaka, Tokyo is built at sea level on the convergence of 3 large rivers in a low lying estuary.
We will have to retreat from the heavily-populated mega-delta regions in Southeast Asia like Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tianjin and Xinjiang, collectively they could generate up to 50 million climate refugees.
Worst hit will be low lying areas like the Maldives and Bangladesh, subject to monsoons and multi meter storm surges and a meter of sea level rise that could displace another 100 million people.
Most of all “retreat” was about everybody trying to sustain civilization, so that we do not degenerate into a Dark Age of warlords.
James Lovelocks’ schemes were legendary, controversial and novel. A visionary Gaia legend may speak to some and motivate them to become green, deep or progressive ecologists which is good. However getting wrapped up in myth rather than developing a scientific Occam’s razor for dealing with our crisis in survival may have been a fatal mis-step.
James Lovelock was an ecological pioneer who wrote about a global consciousness in the form of Gaia that only fed into the idea that a “change of consciousness” was what was needed and as such he was acting as a distraction rather than being any part of a solution.
Working together for change
Katie Fitzpatrick wrote an interesting article contrasting Thoreau and Arendt, insisting that the moral philosophy of Thoreau, his type of civil disobedience was anathema to the collective spirit that ought to guide acts of public refusal. Its a line of thought protesters should consider. The article can be found here: Hannah Arendt: Change the world, not yourself can be found here.
Only two problems to fix
There are only 2 problems worth addressing, all others are derivative. Pipelines, expressways, species loss, global warming, ocean acidification, dead zones and the resulting canfield oceans, depletion of forests, minerals, soils, fish stocks, the buildup of toxins, pesticides and effluent in the oceans be it oil, farm runoff or plastics, all these problems and more are derivative of two things.
1: Our Population
You, me, all of us. Not some Midwest hunter with with a truck or the Nigerian with 3 wives and 25 children, not the Chinese businessman or the Brazilian slum dweller. Not one identity or another, just us, all of us. Its not our individual footprint, its our collective concrete path. Its not personal its organizational.
The situation is not improving because the % rate of change is getting smaller. The actual numbers of new people are growing faster and faster. As you can see during Lovelock’s lifetime world population growth has accelerated as follows:
|Year||Population||Rate of change||New People per year|
2: Our Tax Laws
Ours is an intentional community, their is no free market. We have a tax structure that carefully created exactly what we have today. The hidden hand of the market is an 18th century myth, like Gaia is a 20th century myth. Change the tax laws if you want to change the world. Its not your diet or car, no number of farm animals in sanctuaries or vegans on bicycles is going to help us. Its about changing the tax code to stop and reverse population growth, stop mass accumulations of wealth and structure a society that does not consume itself and collapse into brutal tribal warfare.
H. D. Thoreau said it succinctly “ There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The Evil is growing more than twice as fast today as it was in 1919 and that evil is population growth.
Environmentalism is a broad ideology concerned with the protection of the ecology and as such has been less than effective in averting ecological collapse.
It needs to be tightly focused to be a force of good. When it deals with our growing population and gives specific guidelines on the society we want to intentionally create through our tax code then it will become a force for good. Until then it is just another accomplice to the rape of the planet.
Weird Sly Kip
August 2 2022
A sunny humid day in Ottawa with warm breezes and diffuse sunlight. Enjoying the summer, thinking of deep ecology, social ecology and friends who fought for ecological justice over the years.