Scientists in Gaia

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Scientists on Gaia is a multidisciplinary exploration of the controversial Gaia hypothesis which was first phrased by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the early 1970s. Forty-four contributions detail the philosophical, empirical, and theoretical foundations of Gaia, mechanisms through which planetwide homeostasis could occur, applicability of the hypothesis to planets other than Earth, possible destabilization by outside forces, and public policy implications.

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Overview

Scientists on Gaia is a multidisciplinary exploration of the controversial Gaia hypothesis which was first phrased by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the early 1970s. Forty-four contributions detail the philosophical, empirical, and theoretical foundations of Gaia, mechanisms through which planetwide homeostasis could occur, applicability of the hypothesis to planets other than Earth, possible destabilization by outside forces, and public policy implications.

The Gaia hypothesis posits that Earth's physical and biological processes are linked to form a complex, self-regulating system and that life has affected this system over time. Traditional science states that life is primarily a passive passenger on Earth, dependent on the Earth's chemistry, atmosphere, geology, and oceans. The Gaia hypothesis, on the other hand, suggests that life is an active participant in shaping the physical and chemical environment on which life also depends. Scientists on Gaia provides a fascinating multi-lensed examination of the hypothesis, shows how Gaia can be formulated as a scientific hypothesis rather than some kind of New Age philosophy, and addresses significant changes in the hypothesis since its conception nearly two decades ago.

Stephen Schneider, a climatologist, is Head of the Interdisciplinary Climate Systems Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado. Penelope Boston, a biologist, is a founder of Complex Systems Research, Lafayette, Colorado.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Proposed in the 1970s, the Gaia hypothesis is that the Earth is a complex system which regulates itself in part through biological processes. Essays by theory-originators Lovelock and Margulis, and others introduce this collection of essays, adapted from presentations at the 1988 Chapman Conference. The overview is followed by a debate by philosophers of science and then discussion of the scientific foundations of Gaian theory and the particular mechanisms involved. A final section explores public policy implications. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262193108
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Pages: 458

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