Quote of the Day: James Lovelock on Geoengineering & The "Practice of Planetary Medicine"

James Lovelock photo

Whether you love him or dismiss him, James Lovelock may be the staunchest pessimist around for the future of humanity on a warming planet. But the iconic environmentalist and originator of the Gaia hypothesis has a couple of cautionary words about the hubris of artificially fiddling with nature:

"Before we start geoengineering we have to raise the following question: are we sufficiently talented to take on what might become the onerous permanent task of keeping the Earth in homeostasis? Consider what might happen if we start by using a stratospheric aerosol to ameliorate global heating; even if it succeeds, it would not be long before we face the additional problem of ocean acidification. This would need another medicine, and so on... Whatever we do is likely to lead to death on a scale that makes all previous wars, famines and disasters small… We have to consider seriously that as with nineteenth century medicine, the best option is often kind words and pain killers but otherwise do nothing and let Nature take its course.[..]

Physicians have the Hippocratic Oath; perhaps we need something similar for our practice of planetary medicine… We should be the heart and mind of the Earth not its malady. Perhaps the greatest value of the Gaia concept lies in its metaphor of a living Earth, which reminds us that we are part of it and that our contract with Gaia is not about human rights alone, but includes human obligations."

Via:: The Guardian
Image: Eamonn McCabe
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