Read The Revenge Of Gaia: Why The Earth Is Fighting Back And How We Can Still Save Humanity by James E. Lovelock Free Online
Book Title: The Revenge Of Gaia: Why The Earth Is Fighting Back And How We Can Still Save Humanity|
The author of the book: James E. Lovelock
Edition: Allen Lane
Date of issue: May 1st 2006
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 612 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1981 times
Reader ratings: 3.8
ISBN 13: 9780713999143
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I read The Revenge of Gaia in order to understand Lovelock's analysis of climate change and what's in store for our future, and for that I am not sorry I read it. I found the middle section of the book, the part on climate, compelling and informative. So it gets two stars. There is SOMEthing of value in these pages.
But his *sociology* got my blood boiling. I was absolutely seething, and ready to tear my hair out. I felt very strong hate and disgust for some of his uninformed claims, for his formulaic regurgitation of our society's most dangerous myths of cultural hegemony.
In one of the most distressing passages, he blames globalized society's inability to take decisive action to care for the environment on... get this .... our "tribal natures." But indigenous tribes have NOTHING to do with industrial pollution in the first place. Globalized society cannot act in cohesion and come to a consensus decision on the environment because it is NOT locally grounded and tribally organized---not the other way around! Tribal people are intelligent, resourceful, sensitive, vivacious, and creative, and they have strong social cohesion.... and you can trace the roots of every human being alive today to a tribal social organization, roots which extend back in time for about a million years. I read Lovelock's dismissal of our genetic/social inheritance as an easy (not to mention racist) shot at "uncivilized" people who are marginalized in political discourse, who have no means or support for getting up to the proverbial podium to defend themselves.
Indigenous tribes did not make the Earth sick. Civilization Did.
Furthermore, Lovelock himself can't seem to make up his mind whether he loves or hates civilization. He blames it for its vicious cycle of wholesale destruction on one page, and on the next page he preaches that we must save it by all means possible because "it is the greatest asset we bring to the Earth." In some chapters he sounds downright schizophrenic.
Examples of passages that were met with nothing but disgust, astonishment, and concerned perplexity on my end:
p. 4... "I think that we reject the evidence that our world is changing because we are still, as that wonderfully wise biologist E. O. Wilson reminded us, tribal carnivores. We are programmed by our inheritance to see other living things as mainly something to eat..."
But Professor Lovelock, I don't see any "tribal carnivores" caging up animals on farms, feeding them s**t, cutting off their beaks so they can't peck each other to death in prison, changing their genetic makeup, processing their bodies in slaughterhouses while they're not yet dead, and dumping their waste into rivers. In fact, I know of more than one tribe of people who revere the animals that they eat, who are endlessly thankful for their bodies as gifts, and who create special places in their mythological pantheons to the spirits of those animals.
No, we are not programmed by genetic inheritance to be selfish and sadistic. Rather, we are programmed by American Idol to turn a blind eye to our misdeeds. The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. That's what you get when you have a complex society worshipping endless growth coupled with that handy lubricant to "progress" called economic specialization.
p. 9... "Terrorism and genocide both result from our tribal natures. Tribal behaviour is surely written in the language of our genetic code, or why else would we as a mob or a crowd do the evil things that only psychopaths would do alone. ... Civilzation has only slightly sanitized these awful trends and called them war."
Lovelock misses the news that tribes are NOT "mobs" or "crowds." They are FAMILIES and COMMUNITIES. Not a mob of strangers. And civilization did not "sanitize" genocide, terrorism and war, it created them. (This is not to say that tribal people are never violent. Of course they are. Violence has its place in nature. However, there is a marked difference between a singular act of violence and a systemic flaw in social structure that allows for destruction on a pathological scale.)
p. 10... "in some ways the human species is like a planetary disease"...
Just civilized society--leave indigenous groups out of it!!
..."but through civilization we redeem ourselves and have become a precious asset for the Earth."
(Right, because I've never heard of indigenous people taking the opportunity to learn about the ecosystem they are a part of, and deliberately helping it to flourish. Oh wait, yes I have. But I've never heard of a civilized institution doing that. Hmm.)
Not only that, but if we "redeem ourselves" through civilization (as though humans are born bad... is it really scientific to believe in original sin?), well then... why do you write the following?:
p. 6 "We as a civilization are all too much like someone addicted to a drug"
p. 8 "We need most of all to renew that love and empathy for nature that we lost when we first began our love affair for city life"
p. 7 "We are so obsessed with the idea of progress and with the betterment of humanity that we regard retreat as a dirty word, something to be ashamed of. The philosopher and historian of ideas John Gray observed in his book Straw Dogs that only rarely do we see beyond the needs of humanity, and he linked this blindness to our Christian and humanist infrastructure. It arose 2000 years ago and was then benign, and we were no significant threat to Gaia. Now that we are over six billion hungry and greedy individuals, all aspiring to a first-world lifestyle, our urban way of life encroaches upon the domain of the living Earth. We are taking so much that it is no longer able to sustain the familiar and comfortable world we have taken for granted."
Christian and humanist infrastructure made civilization what it is. So how does civilization redeem us, if its very infrastructure may be our own demise?
We are in a state of dependency on civilization, kept infantilized, and no matter how fickle and merciless it is, we must profess to love that which we are dependent upon, or face the insanity of cognitive dissonance.
p. 134 "Whatever form future society takes it will be tribal, and hence there will be the privileged and the poor."
Right, because tribal groups all use currency, think of the land as property, and have hierarchical structures.
I can't believe a *scientist* would not do his research before making such claims. To my mind, it is VERY clear that Lovelock is perpetuating the kind of propaganda that rationalized literal and cultural genocide, as well as ecocide, in the Western Hemisphere and the continent of Africa in the 18th/19th centuries. Does this represent "progress"? Is this an "enlightened" scientific viewpoint? The "age of enlightenment" resulted in exploitation, reductionism, industrial pollution, phrenology (the scientific validation of racial superiority), live vivisection (even on dogs), "objective" (static and rigid) classification (often hierarchical), and vast other examples of numb cruelty (e.g., purposefully driving chimpanzees insane) in the name of science and of commercial gain. This insane, disassociated, demented behavior was rationalized by intellectual proponents who believed that they had (or could find out) "all the answers." To that I can only respond - Stupid is as Stupid does. Judging from these historical roots, modern science looks more and more like an organized religion, albeit one without spirituality, and its superstition is that humans have the brain-given right to do whatever dumb, callous s**t they want as long as they can't foresee how it could harm *them* in any way. In other words, science's founding superstition is not that there is a god in the sky, but rather, that humans can be all-knowing, all-controlling gods on Earth. If they are not, they are not "living up to their potential" and are "savage animals." Lovelock himself writes on p. 137, "When I was a child I was marinated in Christian belief, and still it unconsciously guides my thinking and behavior." No S**t.
Actually, I recant the first sentence of the preceding paragraph.
Tangents aside, I have one further point of criticism: Lovelock's solutions are Euro-centric and require economic investments which "developing" nations simply can't muster.
Lovelock's "prescription" for what we "should" do is authoritarian in the worst degree. His anthropology/sociology is amateur at its very best. One of the dangers of professional science in general is that it claims to have all the answers. It doesn't.
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Read information about the authorLibrarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.
James Ephraim Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS, is an independent scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist, and futurist who lives in Devon, England. He is known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis, in which he postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system.