James Lovelock

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James Lovelock

James Lovelock, 2005 (cropped).jpg
James Lovelock in 2005
Born
James Ephraim Lovelock

(1919-07-26) 26 July 1919 (age 99)
Residence Dorset, England
NationalityBritish
Alma mater
Known for
Awards
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry, earth science
Institutions
Thesis The properties and use of aliphatic and hydroxy carboxylic acids in aerial disinfection  (1947)
Website JamesLovelock.org

James Ephraim Lovelock, CH CBE FRS (born 26 July 1919) is an independent scientist, environmentalist, and futurist who lives in Dorset, England. He is best known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system. [4]

Fellow of the Royal Society Elected Fellow of the Royal Society, including Honorary, Foreign and Royal Fellows

Fellowship of the Royal Society is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science and medical science'.

Independent scientist financially independent scientist who pursues scientific study without direct affiliation to a public institution

An independent scientist is a financially independent scientist who pursues scientific study without direct affiliation to a public institution such as a university or government-run research and development body. The expression "gentleman scientist" arose in post-Renaissance Europe, but became less common in the 20th century as government and private funding increased.

Environmentalist someone who supports the goals of the environmental movement

An environmentalist is a supporter of the goals of the environmental movement, "a political and ethical movement that seeks to improve and protect the quality of the natural environment through changes to environmentally harmful human activities". An environmentalist is engaged in or believes in the philosophy of environmentalism.

Contents

With a PhD in medicine, he performed cryopreservation experiments on rodents, including successfully thawing frozen specimens. His methods were influential in the theories of cryonics (the cryopreservation of humans). He invented the electron capture detector, and using it, became the first to detect the widespread presence of CFCs in the atmosphere. While designing scientific instruments for NASA, he developed the Gaia hypothesis.

Doctor of Philosophy Postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities in many countries

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most English-speaking countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor or, in non-English-speaking countries, variants such as "Dr. phil." with their name, although the proper etiquette associated with this usage may also be subject to the professional ethics of their own scholarly field, culture, or society. Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "PhD", or "DPhil". It is, however, considered incorrect to use both the title and post-nominals at the same time.

Cryopreservation process where cells, whole tissues, etc. are preserved by cooling to sub-zero temperatures

Cryo-preservation or cryo-conservation is a process where organelles, cells, tissues, extracellular matrix, organs or any other biological constructs susceptible to damage caused by unregulated chemical kinetics are preserved by cooling to very low temperatures. At low enough temperatures, any enzymatic or chemical activity which might cause damage to the biological material in question is effectively stopped. Cryopreservation methods seek to reach low temperatures without causing additional damage caused by the formation of ice crystals during freezing. Traditional cryopreservation has relied on coating the material to be frozen with a class of molecules termed cryoprotectants. New methods are constantly being investigated due to the inherent toxicity of many cryoprotectants. By default it should be considered that cryopreservation alters or compromises the structure and function of cells unless it is proven otherwise for a particular cell population. Cryoconservation of animal genetic resources is the process in which animal genetic material is collected and stored with the intention of conservation of the breed.

Rodent Diverse order of mammals

Rodents are mammals of the order Rodentia, which are characterized by a single pair of continuously growing incisors in each of the upper and lower jaws. About 40% of all mammal species are rodents ; they are found in vast numbers on all continents except Antarctica. They are the most diversified mammalian order and live in a variety of terrestrial habitats, including human-made environments.

In the 2000s, he proposed a method of climate engineering to restore carbon dioxide-consuming algae. He has been an outspoken member of Environmentalists for Nuclear, citing the effects of carbon dioxide as being more harmful to the environment, and warning of global warming due to the greenhouse effect. He has written several environmental science books based upon the Gaia hypothesis since the late 1970s.

Climate engineering or climate intervention, commonly referred to as geoengineering, is the deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system, usually with the aim of mitigating the adverse effects of global warming. Climate engineering is an umbrella term for measures that mainly fall into two categories: greenhouse gas removal and solar radiation management. Greenhouse gas removal approaches, of which carbon dioxide removal represents the most prominent subcategory addresses the cause of global warming by removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Solar radiation management attempts to offset effects of greenhouse gases by causing the Earth to absorb less solar radiation.

Carbon dioxide chemical compound

Carbon dioxide (chemical formula CO2) is a colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas. The current concentration is about 0.04% (410 ppm) by volume, having risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Carbon dioxide is odorless at normally encountered concentrations. However, at high concentrations, it has a sharp and acidic odor.

Algae Group of eukaryotic organisms

Algae is an informal term for a large, diverse group of photosynthetic eukaryotic organisms that are not necessarily closely related, and is thus polyphyletic. Including organisms ranging from unicellular microalgae genera, such as Chlorella and the diatoms, to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelp, a large brown alga which may grow up to 50 m in length. Most are aquatic and autotrophic and lack many of the distinct cell and tissue types, such as stomata, xylem, and phloem, which are found in land plants. The largest and most complex marine algae are called seaweeds, while the most complex freshwater forms are the Charophyta, a division of green algae which includes, for example, Spirogyra and the stoneworts.

Biography

James Lovelock was born in Letchworth Garden City in Hertfordshire, England, to working class parents who were strong believers in education. Nell, his mother, started work at 13 in a pickle factory. His father, Tom, had served six months hard labour for poaching in his teens and was illiterate until attending technical college. The family moved to London, where Lovelock's dislike of authority made him, by his own account, an unhappy pupil at Strand School. [5]

Letchworth town and former civil parish in Hertfordshire, England

Letchworth Garden City, commonly known as Letchworth, is a town in Hertfordshire, England, with a population of 33,600. It is a former civil parish.

Hertfordshire County of England

Hertfordshire is one of the home counties in England. It is bordered by Bedfordshire to the north, Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Essex to the east, Buckinghamshire to the west and Greater London to the south. For government statistical purposes, it is placed in the East of England region.

Strand School was a boys' grammar school in the Tulse Hill area of South London. It moved there in 1913 from its original location at Kings College in London's Strand.

Lovelock could not afford to go to university, something which he believes helped prevent him becoming overspecialised and aided the development of Gaia theory. He worked at a photography firm, attending Birkbeck College during the evenings, before being accepted to study chemistry at the University of Manchester, where he was a student of the Nobel Prize laureate Professor Alexander Todd. [6] Lovelock worked at a Quaker farm before a recommendation from his professor led to him taking up a Medical Research Council post, [3] working on ways of shielding soldiers from burns. Lovelock refused to use the shaved and anaesthetised rabbits that were used as burn victims, and exposed his own skin to heat radiation instead, an experience he describes as "exquisitely painful". [7] His student status enabled temporary deferment of military service during the Second World War, but he registered as a conscientious objector. [8] He later abandoned his conscientious objection in the light of Nazi atrocities, and tried to enlist in the armed forces, but was told that his medical research was too valuable for the enlistment to be approved. [9]

University of Manchester public research university in Manchester, England

The University of Manchester is a public research university in Manchester, England, formed in 2004 by the merger of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the Victoria University of Manchester. The University of Manchester is a red brick university, a product of the civic university movement of the late 19th century.

Alexander R. Todd British biochemist

Alexander Robertus Todd, Baron Todd of Trumpington was a British biochemist whose research on the structure and synthesis of nucleotides, nucleosides, and nucleotide coenzymes gained him the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Military service Performing the service in the armed forces of a state

Military service is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft (conscription).

In 1948, Lovelock received a PhD degree in medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. [10] He spent the next two decades working at London's National Institute for Medical Research. [8] In the United States, he has conducted research at Yale, Baylor College of Medicine, and Harvard University. [3]

National Institute for Medical Research medical research institute in London, United Kingdom

The National Institute for Medical Research, was a medical research institute based in Mill Hill, on the outskirts of north London, England. It was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC);

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is an American private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Baylor College of Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine (BCM), located in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, US, is a health sciences university. It includes a medical school, Baylor College of Medicine; the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; the School of Allied Health Sciences; and the National School of Tropical Medicine. The school, located in the middle of the world's largest medical center, is part owner of Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center, part of the CHI St. Luke's Health system, and has hospital affiliations with: Harris Health System, Texas Children's Hospital, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann – The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, Menninger Clinic, the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Children's Hospital of San Antonio.

Career

In the mid-1950s, Lovelock experimented with the cryopreservation of rodents, determining that hamsters could be frozen with 60% of the water in the brain crystallized into ice with no adverse effects recorded. Other organs were shown to be susceptible to damage. [11] The results were influential in the theories of cryonics.

A lifelong inventor, Lovelock has created and developed many scientific instruments, some of which were designed for NASA in its planetary exploration program. It was while working as a consultant for NASA that Lovelock developed the Gaia hypothesis, for which he is most widely known.

In early 1961, Lovelock was engaged by NASA to develop sensitive instruments for the analysis of extraterrestrial atmospheres and planetary surfaces. The Viking program, which visited Mars in the late 1970s, was motivated in part to determine whether Mars supported life, and many of the sensors and experiments that were ultimately deployed aimed to resolve this issue. During work on a precursor of this program, Lovelock became interested in the composition of the Martian atmosphere, reasoning that many life forms on Mars would be obliged to make use of it (and, thus, alter it). However, the atmosphere was found to be in a stable condition close to its chemical equilibrium, with very little oxygen, methane, or hydrogen, but with an overwhelming abundance of carbon dioxide. To Lovelock, the stark contrast between the Martian atmosphere and chemically dynamic mixture of the Earth's biosphere was strongly indicative of the absence of life on Mars. [12] However, when they were finally launched to Mars, the Viking probes still searched (unsuccessfully) for extant life there. Further experiments to search for life on Mars have been carried out by further space probes, most recently NASA'S 2012 Curiosity Rover.

Electron capture detector developed by Lovelock, and in the Science Museum, London James Lovelocks Electron capture detector for a gas chromatograph, 1960. (9660569973).jpg
Electron capture detector developed by Lovelock, and in the Science Museum, London

Lovelock had invented the electron capture detector, which ultimately assisted in discoveries about the persistence of CFCs and their role in stratospheric ozone depletion. [13] [14] [15] After studying the operation of the Earth's sulphur cycle, [16] Lovelock and his colleagues, Robert Jay Charlson, Meinrat Andreae and Stephen G. Warren developed the CLAW hypothesis as a possible example of biological control of the Earth's climate. [17]

Lovelock was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974. [18] He served as the president of the Marine Biological Association (MBA) from 1986 to 1990, and has been an Honorary Visiting Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford (formerly Green College, Oxford) since 1994.

As an independent scientist, inventor, and author, Lovelock worked out of a barn-turned-laboratory he called his "experimental station" located in a wooded valley on the Devon/Cornwall border in the South West England. [19]

On 8 May 2012, he appeared on the Radio Four series The Life Scientific , talking to Jim al-Khalili about the Gaia hypothesis. On the programme, he mentioned how his ideas had been received by various people, including Jonathan Porritt. He also mentioned how he had a claim for inventing the microwave oven. He later explained this claim in an interview with The Manchester Magazine . Lovelock said that he did create an instrument during his time studying causes of damage to living cells and tissue, which had, according to him, "almost everything you would expect in an ordinary microwave oven". He invented the instrument for the purpose of heating up frozen hamsters in a way that caused less suffering to the animals, as opposed to the traditional way which involved putting red hot spoons on the animals' chest to heat them up. He believes that at the time, nobody had gone that far and made an embodiment of an actual microwave oven. [20] However, he does not claim to have been the first person to have the idea of using microwaves for cooking. [6]

CFCs

Reconstructed time-series of atmospheric concentrations of CFC-11 AYool CFC-11 history.png
Reconstructed time-series of atmospheric concentrations of CFC-11

After the development of his electron capture detector, in the late 1960s, Lovelock was the first to detect the widespread presence of CFCs in the atmosphere. [13] He found a concentration of 60 parts per trillion of CFC-11 over Ireland and, in a partially self-funded research expedition in 1972, went on to measure the concentration of CFC-11 from the northern hemisphere to the Antarctic aboard the research vessel RRS Shackleton. [14] [22] He found the gas in each of the 50 air samples that he collected but, not realising that the breakdown of CFCs in the stratosphere would release chlorine that posed a threat to the ozone layer, concluded that the level of CFCs constituted "no conceivable hazard". [22] He has since stated that he meant "no conceivable toxic hazard".

However, the experiment did provide the first useful data on the ubiquitous presence of CFCs in the atmosphere. The damage caused to the ozone layer by the photolysis of CFCs was later discovered by Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina. After hearing a lecture on the subject of Lovelock's results, [23] Sherwood and Molina embarked on research that resulted in the first published paper that suggested a link between stratospheric CFCs and ozone depletion in 1974 (for which they later shared the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Paul Crutzen). [24]

Gaia hypothesis

First formulated by Lovelock during the 1960s as a result of work for NASA concerned with detecting life on Mars, [12] the Gaia hypothesis proposes that living and non-living parts of the Earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism. [25] [26] Named after the Greek goddess Gaia at the suggestion of novelist William Golding, [22] the hypothesis postulates that the biosphere has a regulatory effect on the Earth's environment that acts to sustain life.

While the hypothesis was readily accepted by many in the environmentalist community, it has not been widely accepted within the scientific community as a whole. Among its most prominent critics are the evolutionary biologists Richard Dawkins, Ford Doolittle, and Stephen Jay Gould, a convergence of opinion among a trio whose views on other scientific matters often diverge. These (and other) critics have questioned how natural selection operating on individual organisms can lead to the evolution of planetary-scale homeostasis. [27]

In response to this Lovelock, together with Andrew Watson, published the computer model Daisyworld in 1983, that postulated a hypothetical planet orbiting a star whose radiant energy is slowly increasing or decreasing. [28] In the non-biological case, the temperature of this planet simply tracks the energy received from the star. However, in the biological case, ecological competition between "daisy" species with different albedo values produces a homeostatic effect on global temperature. When energy received from the star is low, black daisies proliferate since they absorb a greater fraction of the heat, but when energy input is high, white daisies predominate since they reflect excess heat. As the white and black daisies have contrary effects on the planet's overall albedo and temperature, changes in their relative populations stabilise the planet's climate and to keep temperature within an optimal range despite fluctuations in energy from the star. Lovelock argued that Daisyworld, although a parable, illustrates how conventional natural selection operating on individual organisms can still produce planetary-scale homeostasis.

Lovelock in 2005 James Lovelock in 2005.jpg
Lovelock in 2005

In Lovelock's 2006 book, The Revenge of Gaia , he argues that the lack of respect humans have had for Gaia, through the damage done to rainforests and the reduction in planetary biodiversity, is testing Gaia's capacity to minimize the effects of the addition of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This eliminates the planet's negative feedbacks and increases the likelihood of homeostatic positive feedback potential associated with runaway global warming. Similarly the warming of the oceans is extending the oceanic thermocline layer of tropical oceans into the Arctic and Antarctic waters, preventing the rise of oceanic nutrients into the surface waters and eliminating the algal blooms of phytoplankton on which oceanic food chains depend. As phytoplankton and forests are the main ways in which Gaia draws down greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, taking it out of the atmosphere, the elimination of this environmental buffering will see, according to Lovelock, most of the earth becoming uninhabitable for humans and other life-forms by the middle of this century, with a massive extension of tropical deserts. (In 2012, Lovelock distanced himself from these conclusions, saying he had "gone too far" in describing the consequences of climate change over the next century in this book.) [29]

In his 2009 book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia, [30] he rejects scientific models that disagree with the findings that sea levels are rising and Arctic ice is melting faster than the models predict. He suggests that we may already be beyond the tipping point of terrestrial climate resilience into a permanently hot state. Given these conditions, Lovelock expects human civilization will be hard-pressed to survive. He expects the change to be similar to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum when atmospheric concentration of CO2 was 450 ppm., and the Arctic Ocean was 23 °C. [31] [32] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

Nuclear power

Lovelock has become concerned about the threat of global warming from the greenhouse effect. In 2004 he caused a media sensation when he broke with many fellow environmentalists by pronouncing that "only nuclear power can now halt global warming". In his view, nuclear energy is the only realistic alternative to fossil fuels that has the capacity to both fulfill the large scale energy needs of humankind while also reducing greenhouse emissions. He is an open member of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy.

In 2005, against the backdrop of renewed UK government interest in nuclear power, Lovelock again publicly announced his support for nuclear energy, stating, "I am a Green, and I entreat my friends in the movement to drop their wrongheaded objection to nuclear energy". [33] Although these interventions in the public debate on nuclear power are recent, his views on it are longstanding. In his 1988 book The Ages of Gaia he states:

I have never regarded nuclear radiation or nuclear power as anything other than a normal and inevitable part of the environment. Our prokaryotic forebears evolved on a planet-sized lump of fallout from a star-sized nuclear explosion, a supernova that synthesised the elements that go to make our planet and ourselves. [22]

In The Revenge of Gaia [34] (2006), where he puts forward the concept of sustainable retreat, Lovelock writes:

A television interviewer once asked me, "But what about nuclear waste? Will it not poison the whole biosphere and persist for millions of years?" I knew this to be a nightmare fantasy wholly without substance in the real world... One of the striking things about places heavily contaminated by radioactive nuclides is the richness of their wildlife. This is true of the land around Chernobyl, the bomb test sites of the Pacific, and areas near the United States' Savannah River nuclear weapons plant of the Second World War. Wild plants and animals do not perceive radiation as dangerous, and any slight reduction it may cause in their lifespans is far less a hazard than is the presence of people and their pets... I find it sad, but all too human, that there are vast bureaucracies concerned about nuclear waste, huge organisations devoted to decommissioning power stations, but nothing comparable to deal with that truly malign waste, carbon dioxide.

Climate

Writing in the British newspaper The Independent in January 2006, Lovelock argued that, as a result of global warming, "billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable" by the end of the 21st century. [35] He has been quoted in The Guardian that 80% of humans will perish by 2100 AD, and this climate change will last 100,000 years. According to James Lovelock, by 2040, the world population of more than six billion will have been culled by floods, drought and famine. Indeed, "[t]he people of Southern Europe, as well as South-East Asia, will be fighting their way into countries such as Canada, Australia and Britain." [36]

By 2040, parts of the Sahara desert will have moved into middle Europe. We are talking about Paris – as far north as Berlin. In Britain we will escape because of our oceanic position. [36]

If you take the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predictions, then by 2040 every summer in Europe will be as hot as it was in 2003 – between 110F and 120F. It is not the death of people that is the main problem, it is the fact that the plants can't grow – there will be almost no food grown in Europe. [36]

We are about to take an evolutionary step and my hope is that the species will emerge stronger. It would be hubris to think humans as they now are [are] God's chosen race. [36]

He further predicted, the average temperature in temperate regions would increase by as much as 8 °C and by up to 5 °C in the tropics, leaving much of the world's land uninhabitable and unsuitable for farming, with northerly migrations and new cities created in the Arctic. He predicted much of Europe will have become uninhabitable having turned to desert and Britain will have become Europe's "life-raft" due to its stable temperature caused by being surrounded by the ocean. He suggested that "we have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realise how little time is left to act, and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can." [35]

He partly retreated from this position in a September 2007 address to the World Nuclear Association's Annual Symposium, suggesting that climate change would stabilise and prove survivable, and that the Earth itself is in "no danger" because it would stabilise in a new state. Life, however, might be forced to migrate en masse to remain in habitable climes. [37] In 2009, he became a patron of Population Matters (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust), which campaigns for a gradual decline in the global human population to a sustainable level. [38]

In a March 2010 interview with The Guardian newspaper, he said that democracy might have to be "put on hold" to prevent climate change. [39] He continued:

Even the best democracies agree that when a major war approaches, democracy must be put on hold for the time being. I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.

Statements from 2012 portray Lovelock as continuing his concern over global warming while at the same time criticizing extremism and suggesting alternatives to oil, coal and the green solutions he does not support. [29]

In an April 2012 interview, aired on MSNBC, Lovelock stated that he had been "alarmist", using the words "All right, I made a mistake," about the timing of climate change and noted the documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the book The Weather Makers as examples of the same kind of alarmism. Lovelock still believes the climate to be warming although the rate of change is not as he once thought, he admitted that he had been "extrapolating too far." He believes that climate change is still happening, but it will be felt farther in the future. [29] Of the claims "the science is settled" on global warming he states: [40]

One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it. [40]

He criticizes environmentalists for treating global warming like a religion. [40]

It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion.

I don't think people have noticed that, but it's got all the sort of terms that religions use ... The greens use guilt. That just shows how religious greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air. [40]

In the MSNBC article Lovelock is quoted as proclaiming: [29]

The problem is we don't know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened.

The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now.

The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time ... it (the temperature) has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising — carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that. [29]

In a follow up interview Lovelock stated his support for natural gas; he now favors fracking as a low-polluting alternative to coal. [19] [40] He opposes the concept of "sustainable development", where modern economies might be powered by wind turbines, calling it meaningless drivel. [40] [41] He keeps a poster of a wind turbine to remind himself how much he detests them. [19]

Geoengineering

In September 2007, Lovelock and Chris Rapley proposed the construction of ocean pumps to pump water up from below the thermocline to "fertilize algae in the surface waters and encourage them to bloom". [42] The basic idea was to accelerate the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean by increasing primary production and enhancing the export of organic carbon (as marine snow) to the deep ocean. A scheme similar to that proposed by Lovelock and Rapley is already being independently developed by a commercial company. [43]

The proposal attracted widespread media attention [44] [45] [46] [47] and criticism. [48] [49] [50] Commenting on the proposal, Corinne Le Quéré, a University of East Anglia researcher, said "It doesn’t make sense. There is absolutely no evidence that climate engineering options work or even go in the right direction. I’m astonished that they published this. Before any geoengineering is put to work a massive amount of research is needed – research which will take 20 to 30 years". [44] Other researchers have claimed that "this scheme would bring water with high natural pCO2 levels (associated with the nutrients) back to the surface, potentially causing exhalation of CO2". [50] Lovelock subsequently said that his proposal was intended to stimulate interest and research would be the next step. [51]

Sustainable retreat

Sustainable retreat is a concept developed by James Lovelock in order to define the necessary changes to human settlement and dwelling at the global scale with the purpose of adapting to global warming and preventing its expected negative consequences on humans. [52]

Lovelock thinks the time is past for sustainable development, and that we have come to a time when development is no longer sustainable. Therefore, we need to retreat. Lovelock states the following in order to explain the concept: [53]

Retreat, in his view, means it's time to start talking about changing where we live and how we get our food; about making plans for the migration of millions of people from low-lying regions like Bangladesh into Europe; about admitting that New Orleans is a goner and moving the people to cities better positioned for the future. Most of all, he says, it's about everybody "absolutely doing their utmost to sustain civilization, so that it doesn't degenerate into Dark Ages, with warlords running things, which is a real danger. We could lose everything that way.

The concept of sustainable retreat emphasized a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs with lower levels and/or less environmentally harmful types of resources.

Awards and honours

Lovelock was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1974. His nomination reads:

Lovelock has made distinguished contributions to several diverse fields, including a study of the transmission of respiratory infection, and methods of air sterilisation; the role of Ca and other divalent ions in blood clotting; damage to various living cells by freezing, thawing and thermal shock and its prevention by the presence of neutral solutes; methods of freezing and thawing small live animals; methods for preparing sperm for artificial insemination, which have been of major economic importance.

He has invented a family of ionisation detectors for gas chromatography. His electron capture detectors are the most sensitive that have been made and are universally used on pollution problems for residual halogen compounds. He has many inventions, including a gas chromatograph, which will be used to investigate planetary atmospheres. His chromatographic work has led to investigation of blood lipids in various animals, including arteriosclerotic humans. He has made a study of detecting life on other planets by analysis of their atmosphere and extended this to world pollution problems. His work generally shows remarkable originality, simplicity and ingenuity. [18]

Lovelock has been awarded a number of prestigious prizes including the Tswett Medal (1975), the American Chemical Society Award in Chromatography (1980), the World Meteorological Organization Norbert Gerbier–MUMM Award (1988), the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences (1990) and the Royal Geographical Society Discovery Lifetime award (2001). In 2006 he received the Wollaston Medal, the Geological Society of London's highest award, whose previous recipients include Charles Darwin . Lovelock was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the study of the Science and Atmosphere in the 1990 New Year Honours and a Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) for services to Global Environment Science in the 2003 New Year Honours. [54] [55]

Portraits of Lovelock

In March 2012, the National Portrait Gallery [56] unveiled a new portrait of Lovelock by British artist Michael Gaskell (2011). The collection also has two photographic portraits by Nick Sinclair (1993) and Paul Tozer (1994). [56] The archive of the Royal Society of Arts has a 2009 image taken by Anne-Katrin Purkiss. [57] Lovelock agreed to sit for sculptor Jon Edgar in Devon during 2007, as part of The Environment Triptych (2008) [58] along with heads of Mary Midgley and Richard Mabey. A bronze head is in the collection of the sitter and the terracotta is in the archive of the artist. [59]

Bibliography

See also

Related Research Articles

Gaia philosophy is a broadly inclusive term for related concepts that living organisms on a planet will affect the nature of their environment in order to make the environment more suitable for life. This set of theories holds that all organisms on a life-giving planet regulate the biosphere in such a way as to promote its habitability. Gaia concept draws a connection between the survivability of a species and its usefulness to the survival of other species.

Greenhouse effect atmosopheric phenomenon

The greenhouse effect is the process by which radiation from a planet's atmosphere warms the planet's surface to a temperature above what it would be without its atmosphere.

Terraforming hypothetical planetary engineering process

Terraforming or terraformation of a planet, moon, or other body is the hypothetical process of deliberately modifying its atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to the environment of Earth to make it habitable by Earth-like life.

Gaia hypothesis Hypothesis that living organisms interact with their surroundings in a self-regulating system

The Gaia hypothesis, also known as the Gaia theory or the Gaia principle, proposes that living organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic and self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet.

Radiative forcing

Radiative forcing or climate forcing is the difference between insolation (sunlight) absorbed by the Earth and energy radiated back to space. The influences that cause changes to the Earth’s climate system altering Earth’s radiative equilibrium, forcing temperatures to rise or fall, are called climate forcings. Positive radiative forcing means Earth receives more incoming energy from sunlight than it radiates to space. This net gain of energy will cause warming. Conversely, negative radiative forcing means that Earth loses more energy to space than it receives from the sun, which produces cooling.

Cloud condensation nuclei small particles (typically 0.2 µm) on which water vapor condenses

Cloud condensation nuclei or CCNs are small particles typically 0.2 µm, or 1/100th the size of a cloud droplet on which water vapor condenses. Water requires a non-gaseous surface to make the transition from a vapour to a liquid; this process is called condensation. In the atmosphere, this surface presents itself as tiny solid or liquid particles called CCNs. When no CCNs are present, water vapour can be supercooled at about −13°C (8°F) for 5–6 hours before droplets spontaneously form. In above freezing temperatures the air would have to be supersaturated to around 400% before the droplets could form.

This article serves as a glossary of climate change terms. It lists terms that are related to global warming.

James Hansen American physicist

James Edward Hansen is an American adjunct professor directing the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is best known for his research in climatology, his 1988 Congressional testimony on climate change that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to avoid dangerous climate change. In recent years he has become a climate activist to mitigate the effects of climate change, on a few occasions leading to his arrest.

A runaway greenhouse effect is a state in which a net positive feedback between surface temperature and atmospheric opacity increases the strength of the greenhouse effect on a planet until its oceans boil away.An example of this is believed to have happened in the early history of Venus. On the Earth, such a hypothetical state is called hothouse earth, but the IPCC states that "a 'runaway greenhouse effect'—analogous to [that of] Venus—appears to have virtually no chance of being induced by anthropogenic activities."

Terraforming of Mars process of changing Mars ecology

Terraforming of Mars is a hypothetical process of planetary engineering by which the surface and climate of Mars would be deliberately changed to make large areas of the environment hospitable to humans, thus making the colonization of Mars safer and sustainable.

<i>The Revenge of Gaia</i> book by James Lovelock

The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back – and How we Can Still Save Humanity (2006) is a book by James Lovelock. Some editions of the book have a different, less optimistic subtitle: Earth's Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity.

Climate of Mars climate patterns of the terrestrial planet

The climate of the planet Mars has been a topic of scientific curiosity for centuries, in part because it is the only terrestrial planet whose surface can be directly observed in detail from the Earth with help from a telescope.

Carbon dioxide in Earths atmosphere Atmospheric constituent; greenhouse gas

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important trace gas in Earth's atmosphere. It is an integral part of the carbon cycle, a biogeochemical cycle in which carbon is exchanged between the Earth's oceans, soil, rocks and the biosphere. Plants and other photoautotrophs use solar energy to produce carbohydrate from atmospheric carbon dioxide and water by photosynthesis. Almost all other organisms depend on carbohydrate derived from photosynthesis as their primary source of energy and carbon compounds. CO2 absorbs and emits infrared radiation at wavelengths of 4.26 µm (asymmetric stretching vibrational mode) and 14.99 µm (bending vibrational mode) and consequently is a greenhouse gas that plays a vital role in regulating Earth's surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.

The CLAW hypothesis proposes a negative feedback loop that operates between ocean ecosystems and the Earth's climate. The hypothesis specifically proposes that particular phytoplankton that produce dimethyl sulfide are responsive to variations in climate forcing, and that these responses act to stabilise the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere. The CLAW hypothesis was originally proposed by Robert Jay Charlson, James Lovelock, Meinrat Andreae and Stephen G. Warren, and takes its acronym from the first letter of their surnames.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan Indian scientist

Veerabhadran Ramanathan is Victor Alderson Professor of Applied Ocean Sciences and director of the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. He has contributed to many areas of the atmospheric sciences including developments to general circulation models, atmospheric chemistry, and radiative transfer. He has been a part of major projects such as the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX) and the Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE), and is known for his contributions to the area of atmospheric aerosol research. He has received numerous awards, and is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He has spoken about the topic of global warming, and written that "the effect of greenhouse gases on global warming is, in my opinion, the most important environmental issue facing the world today."

Mars ocean hypothesis Hypothesis that nearly a third of the surface of Mars was covered by an ocean of liquid water early in the planet’s geologic history

The Mars ocean hypothesis states that nearly a third of the surface of Mars was covered by an ocean of liquid water early in the planet’s geologic history. This primordial ocean, dubbed Paleo-Ocean and Oceanus Borealis, would have filled the basin Vastitas Borealis in the northern hemisphere, a region which lies 4–5 km below the mean planetary elevation, at a time period of approximately 4.1–3.8 billion years ago. Evidence for this ocean includes geographic features resembling ancient shorelines, and the chemical properties of the Martian soil and atmosphere. Early Mars would have required a denser atmosphere and warmer climate to allow liquid water to remain at the surface.

Carbonate–silicate cycle

The carbonate–silicate geochemical cycle describes the long-term transformation of silicate rocks to carbonate rocks by weathering and sedimentation, and the transformation of carbonate rocks back into silicate rocks by metamorphism and volcanism. Carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere during burial of weathered minerals and returned to the atmosphere through volcanism. On million-year time scales, the carbonate-silicate cycle is a key factor in controlling Earth's climate because it regulates carbon dioxide levels and therefore global temperature.

Earth system science academic study to understand the Earth as a system

Earth system science (ESS) is the application of systems science to the Earth sciences. In particular, it considers interactions between the Earth's "spheres"—atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, biosphere, and, even, the magnetosphere—as well as the impact of human societies on these components. At its broadest scale, Earth system science brings together researchers across both the natural and social sciences, from fields including ecology, economics, geology, glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology, sociology, and space science. Like the broader subject of systems science, Earth system science assumes a holistic view of the dynamic interaction between the Earth's spheres and their many constituent subsystems, the resulting organization and time evolution of these systems, and their stability or instability. Subsets of Earth system science include systems geology and systems ecology, and many aspects of Earth system science are fundamental to the subjects of physical geography and climate science.

History of climate change science

The history of the scientific discovery of climate change began in the early 19th century when ice ages and other natural changes in paleoclimate were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect first identified. In the late 19th century, scientists first argued that human emissions of greenhouse gases could change the climate. Many other theories of climate change were advanced, involving forces from volcanism to solar variation. In the 1960s, the warming effect of carbon dioxide gas became increasingly convincing. Some scientists also pointed out that human activities that generated atmospheric aerosols could have cooling effects as well. During the 1970s, scientific opinion increasingly favored the warming viewpoint. By the 1990s, as a result of improving fidelity of computer models and observational work confirming the Milankovitch theory of the ice ages, a consensus position formed: greenhouse gases were deeply involved in most climate changes and human-caused emissions were bringing discernible global warming. Since the 1990s, scientific research on climate change has included multiple disciplines and has expanded. Research has expanded our understanding of causal relations, links with historic data and ability to model climate change numerically. Research during this period has been summarized in the Assessment Reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Timothy Michael Lenton FGS FLS FRSB is Professor of Climate Change and Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. In April 2013 he was awarded the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. He graduated with a first-class degree in natural sciences from Robinson College, Cambridge in 1994 and completed his PhD under Andrew Watson at the University of East Anglia in 1998.

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