In the media

James Lovelock: A man for all seasons

John Gray on James Lovelock, published in the New Statesman on 27 March 2013.

‘‘Lovelock has sometimes been portrayed as a prophet of doom. That picture has nothing in common with the man I have known for many years. Cheerful, humorous and life-affirming, he is a passionate talker – and an equally passionate walker. Last summer he moved with his wife, Sandy, to a coastguard’s cottage in Dorset and he told me that the achievement of which he is most proud is walking the 630-mile South West Coast Path with her in 1999 …’’

′Gaia′ scientist James Lovelock: I was ′alarmist′ about climate change

By Ian Johnston, Published 23 April 2012.

‘‘James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too …’’

Lynn Margulis

Lynn Margulis, who has died aged 73, was a microbiologist whose work on the origin of cells transformed the study of evolution; with James Lovelock, she also developed the “Gaia theory” of Earth as a vast self-regulating system. Obituary published in the Daily Telegraph, 13 December 2011.

Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change

In his first in-depth interview since the theft of UEA emails, James Lovelock blames inertia and democracy for lack of action. By Leo Hickman, published in The Guardian, Monday 29 March 2010. Note link to full interview transcript. 

‘‘I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change. The inertia of humans is so huge that you can’t really do anything meaningful … ’’

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James Lovelock

Roger Highfield discusses the final warning on global warming given to us in The Vanishing Face of Gaia by James Lovelock and the scientist’s biography He Knew He Was Right by John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin. Published in the Daily Telegraph, 19 March 2009.

We′re all doomed! 40 years from global catastrophe – and there′s nothing we can do about it, says climate change expert

By Sarah Sands. Published in the Daily Mail, 22 March 2008.

‘‘The weather forecast for this holiday weekend is wildly unsettled. We had better get used to it. According to the climate change scientist James Lovelock, this is the beginning of the end of a peaceful phase in evolution. By 2040, the world population of more than six billion will have been culled by floods, drought and famine …’’

Enjoy life while you can

Decca Aitkenhead interviews JL for The Guardian, Saturday 1 March 2008. 

‘‘Climate science maverick James Lovelock believes catastrophe is inevitable, carbon offsetting is a joke and ethical living a scam. So what would he do? …’’

Ocean pipes could help the Earth to cure itself

Letter to Nature from James Lovelock and Chris Rapley, 26 September 2007.

‘‘We propose a way to stimulate the Earth’s capacity to cure itself, as an emergency treatment for the pathology of global warming … The oceans, which cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, are a promising place to seek a regulating influence. One approach would be to use free-floating or tethered vertical pipes to increase the mixing of nutrient-rich waters below the thermocline with the relatively barren waters at the ocean surface …Such an approach may fail, perhaps on engineering or economic grounds. And the impact on ocean acidification will need to be taken into account … But the stakes are so high that we put forward the general concept of using the Earth system’s own energy for amelioration. The removal of 500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide from the air by human endeavour is beyond our current technological capability. If we can’t ‘heal the planet’ directly, we may be able to help the planet heal itself.’’

Mixing the oceans proposed to reduce global warming

News story in Nature by Quirin Schiermeier, 26 September 2007. 

‘‘Could mighty pumps be installed in the ocean to mix up the waters and cool the planet? In a letter to the editor published in Nature this week, James Lovelock and Chris Rapley suggest that this deus ex machina could be an “emergency treatment for the pathology of global warming”. Large vertical pipes could, they say, be used to mix nutrient-rich waters from hundreds of metres down with the more barren waters at the surface. This could cause algal blooms at the surface, which would consume carbon dioxide (CO2) through photosynthesis. When the algae die, some of this carbon could sink into deep waters. The algae may also produce chemicals that spur cloud formation, further cooling the planet.’’

Lovelock urges ocean climate fix

Article on BBC website by Richard Black, Environment Correspondent. 26 September 2007.

‘‘Two of Britain’s leading environmental thinkers say it is time to develop a quick technical fix for climate change. Writing in the journal Nature, Science Museum head Chris Rapley and Gaia theorist James Lovelock suggest looking at boosting ocean take-up of CO2. Their idea, already being investigated by a US firm, involves huge flotillas of vertical pipes in the tropical seas.’’

Interview: James Lovelock on Climate Change

FirstScience talked to James Lovelock, a famous British environmentalist, scientist and author, about his views on climate change. By Christine Carter, 2 February 2007. 

‘‘The climate change we’re seeing now is closely similar to a geological event that occurred 55 million years ago, at the beginning of the period geologists refer to as the Eocene. We’re not quite certain how, but about two million million tons of carbon dioxide came into the Earth’s atmosphere over a period of about 10,000 years. I think the most likely cause was a volcanic sill: lava underground from a volcano coming up beneath a petroleum deposit in what is now the Norwegian Sea. This vaporised practically the whole deposit and put a huge quantity of carbon into our atmosphere … ’’

Controversial scientist predicts planetary wipeout

Published in the Daily Mail, 29 November 2006.

‘‘Billions of people could be wiped out over the next century because of climate change, a leading expert said. Professor James Lovelock, who pioneered the idea of the Earth as a living organism, said as the planet heats up humans will find it increasingly hard to survive … ’’

Great Thinkers – James Lovelock

Mary Midgley on James Lovelock, published in the New Statesman on 14 July 2003.

‘‘Lovelock is an independent scientist. Though fanatically accurate over details, he never isolates those details from a wider, more demanding vision of their background. He thinks big. Preferring, as Darwin did, to work outside the tramlines of an institution, he has supported himself since 1963 through inventions and consultancies. Reared in Quakerism, he remains, in his eighties, quiet, vigorous, amiable and intellectually explosive.’’