Animate Earth: Science, Intuition, and Gaia [NOOK Book]

Overview

Modern science and western culture both teach that the planet we inhabit is a dead and passive lump of matter, but as Stephan Harding points out, this wasn't always the prevailing sentiment and in Animate Earth he sets out to explain how these older notions of an animate earth can be explained in rational, scientific terms.


In this astounding book Harding lays out the facts and theories behind one of the most controversial notions to come out of the hard sciences arguably ...

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Animate Earth: Science, Intuition, and Gaia

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Overview

Modern science and western culture both teach that the planet we inhabit is a dead and passive lump of matter, but as Stephan Harding points out, this wasn't always the prevailing sentiment and in Animate Earth he sets out to explain how these older notions of an animate earth can be explained in rational, scientific terms.


In this astounding book Harding lays out the facts and theories behind one of the most controversial notions to come out of the hard sciences arguably since Sir Isaac Newton's Principia or the first major publications to come out of the Copenhagen School regarding quantum mechanics. The latter is an important parallel: Whereas quantum mechanics is a science of the problem--it gave rise to the atomic bomb among other things--Gaia Theory in this age of global warming and dangerous climate change is a science of the solution. Its utility: Healing a dying planet becomes an option in a culture otherwise poised to fall into total ecological collapse.


Replacing the cold, objectifying language of science with a way of speaking of our planet as a sentient, living being, Harding presents the science of Gaia in everyday English. His scientific passion and rigor shine through his luminous prose as he calls us to experience Gaia as a living presence and bringing to mind such popular science authors as James Gleick.


Animate Earth will inspire in readers a profound sense of the interconnectedness of life, and to discover what it means to live harmoniously as part of a sentient creature of planetary proportions. This new understanding may solve the most serious problems that face us as a species today.

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What People Are Saying

Thomas Berry
For depth of understanding of Earth functioning and our human role in the process, Stephan Harding’s Animate Earth is the finest of recent studies. It should be read, meditated on, and adopted as a guide to our human course of action if we would avoid the disaster of an ecological collapse of life on Earth. (author of The Great Work)
Jonathon Porritt
Animate Earth represents systems science at its best. . . gives a whole new dimension to what ‘environment-friendly’ really means.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603581493
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/15/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Dr. Stephan Harding holds a doctorate in ecology from the University of Oxford. He is the coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science at Schumacher College, where he is also resident ecologist and a teacher on the short-course program. He lives in Devon, England, where the college is based.


Dr. Stephan Harding has been concerned with conservation of the earth and its creatures since he was a child, when he set up a conservation project on Hampstead Heath. He holds a doctorate in ecology from the University of Oxford, a degree in Zoology from the University of Durham, and has many years experience of ecological field research and of teaching at University level.


The inspiration for Animate Earth came out of his work at Schumacher College, the international centre for ecological studies at Dartington, where he is Coordinator of the MSc in Holistic Science and Resident Ecologist.


He has worked alongside many of the world's leading experts on ecological thought and action, including Jonathon Porritt, Fritjof Capra, Arne Naess, Joanna Macy, Hazel Henderson and James Lovelock, with whom he has collaborated for many years on the development of Gaian thinking. As a writer, lecturer and researcher, Stephan travels worldwide, giving talks and workshops on deep ecology and Gaia theory to a wide range of organizations, including universities. Author of numerous articles and papers, he advises the Dartington Hall Trust on the ecological restoration of its estate in South Devon.

Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) who served as a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, received the 1999 National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton. She was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences starting in 1983 and of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences from 1997 forward. Author, editor, or coauthor of chapters in more than forty books, she published or had her work profiled in many journals, magazines, and books, among them Natural History, Science, Nature, New England Watershed, Scientific American, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science Firsts, and The Scientific 100. She made numerous contributions to the primary scientific literature of microbial evolution and cell biology.


Margulis's theory of species evolution by symbiogenesis, put forth in Acquiring Genomes (co-authored with Dorion Sagan, 2002), describes how speciation does not occur by random mutation alone but rather by symbiotic détente. Behavioral, chemical, and other interactions often lead to integration among organisms, members of different taxa. In well-documented cases some mergers create new species. Intimacy, physical contact of strangers, becomes part of the engine of life's evolution that accelerates the process of change. Margulis worked in the laboratory and field with many other scientists and students to show how specific ancient partnerships, in a given order over a billion years, generated the cells of the species we see with our unaided eyes. The fossil record, in fact, does not show Darwin's predicted gradual changes between closely related species but rather the "punctuated equilibrium" pattern described by Eldredge and Gould: a jump from one to a different species.


She worked on the "revolution in evolution" since she was a graduate student. In the last fifteen years of her life, Margulis co-authored several books with Dorion Sagan, among them What is Sex? (1997), What is Life? (1995), Mystery Dance: On the Evolution of Human Sexuality (1991), Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors (1986), and Origins of Sex:Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination (1986).


Her work with K.V. Schwartz provided a consistent formal classification of all life on Earth and has lead to the third edition of Five Kingdoms: An Illustrated Guide to the Phyla of Life on Earth (1998). Their classification scheme was generated from scientific results of myriad colleagues and its logical-genealogical basis is summarized in her single-authored book Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Microbial Communities in the Archean and Proterozoic Eons (second edition, 1993). The bacterial origins of both chloroplasts and mitochondria are now well established.


Since the mid-1970s, Margulis aided James E. Lovelock, FRS, in documenting his Gaia Theory, which posits that the Earth's surface interactions among living beings, rocks and soil, air and water have created a vast, self-regulating system. From the vantage of outer space the Earth looks like an amazing being; from the vantage of biochemistry it behaves in many ways like a giant organism.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Acknowledgements
Foreword
Introduction
1. Anima Mundi
2. Encountering Gaia
3. From Gaia Hypothesis to Gaia Theory
4. Life and the Elements
5. Carbon Journeys
6. Life, Clouds and Gaia
7. From Microbes to Cell Giants
8. Desperate Earth
9. Gaia and Biodiversity
10. In Service to Gaia
Bibliography
Index

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