Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth

By James Lovelock | Go to book overview

9 Epilogue

My father was born in 1872 and raised on the Berkshire Downs just south of Wantage. He was an excellent and enthusiastic gardener and also a very gentle man. I remember him rescuing wasps from drowning after they had blundered into the water butt. He would say, 'They are there for a purpose, you know', and then explain to me how they controlled the aphids on his plum trees and how they were surely due some of the crops as a reward.

He had no formal religious beliefs and did not attend church or chapel. I think his moral system came from that unstructured mixture of Christianity and magic which is common enough among country people, and in which May Day as well as Easter Day is an occasion for ritual and rejoicing. He felt instinctively his kinship with all living things and I remember how greatly it distressed him to see a tree cut down. I owe much of my own feeling for natural things to walks with him down country lanes and along ancient drives which had, or appeared in those days to have, a sweet seemliness and tranquillity.

This chapter begins autobiographically so that I may bring us the more easily to consider the most speculative and intangible aspects of the Gaia hypothesis: those which concern thought and emotion in the interrelationship of man and Gaia.

Let us start by considering our sense of beauty. By this, I mean those complex feelings of pleasure, recognition, and fulfilment, of wonder, excitement, and yearning, which fill us when we see, feel, smell, or hear whatever heightens our self-awareness and at the same time deepens our perception of the true nature of things. It has often been said--and for some, ad nauseam--that these pleasurable sensations are inextricably bound up with that strange hyperaesthesia of

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Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Gaia - A New Look at Life on Earth i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1 - Introductory 1
  • 2 - In the Beginning 12
  • 3 - The Recognition of Gaia 30
  • 4 - Cybernetics 44
  • 5 - The Contemporary Atmosphere 59
  • 6 - The Sea 78
  • 7 - Gaia and Man: The Problem of Pollution 100
  • 8 - Living Within Gaia 115
  • 9 - Epilogue 133
  • Definitions and Explanations of Terms 143
  • Further Reading 147
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