I have been dipping into the dark world of James Lovelock - here are some quotes, where he explains his vision of our future:
From his 2008 interview in The Guardian, The Science of Climate Change :
There have been seven disasters since humans came on the earth, very similar to the one that's just about to happen. I think these events keep separating the wheat from the chaff. And eventually we'll have a human on the planet that really does understand it and can live with it properly.
From http://www.jameslovelock.org/page20.html :
Life regulates the Earth’s atmosphere and climate to keep it habitable. It is as simple as that.
The catastrophe threatened by global heating is far worse than any war, famine,
or plague in living memory; worse even than global nuclear war. Much of the lush and comfortable Earth we now enjoy is about to become a hot and barren desert.
The intolerably hot world soon to come can support only a remnant of today’s burgeoning humanity, and the survivors will be driven to the cooler regions of the Arctic and to a few continental oases and islands
Green concepts of sustainable development and renewable energy are far too late to have any value
we are at the end of our tether and the rope, whose weave defines our fate, is about to break.
From http://www.jameslovelock.org/page10.html :
My Gaia theory sees the Earth behaving as if it were alive, and clearly anything alive can enjoy good health, or suffer disease. Gaia has made me a planetary physician and I take my profession seriously, and now I, too, have to bring bad news.
The climate centres around the world .. have reported the Earth's physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilisation are in grave danger.
Our planet has kept itself healthy and fit for life, just like an animal does, for most of the more than three billion years of its existence. It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma. She has been there before and recovered, but it took more than 100,000 years. We are responsible and will suffer the consequences: as the century progresses, the temperature will rise 8 degrees centigrade in temperate regions and 5 degrees in the tropics.
Much of the tropical land mass will become scrub and desert, and will no longer serve for regulation; this adds to the 40 percent of the Earth's surface we have depleted to feed ourselves.
Curiously, aerosol pollution of the northern hemisphere reduces global warming by reflecting sunlight back to space. This 'global dimming' is transient and could disappear in a few days like the smoke that it is, leaving us fully exposed to the heat of the global greenhouse. We are in a fool's climate, accidentally kept cool by smoke, and before this century is over 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 failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible - and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us.
To understand how impossible it is, think about how you would regulate your own temperature or the composition of your blood. Those with failing kidneys know the never-ending daily difficulty of adjusting water, salt and protein intake. The technological fix of dialysis helps, but is no replacement for living healthy kidneys.
.. We cannot pollute the air or use the Earth's skin - its forest and ocean ecosystems - as a mere source of products to feed ourselves and furnish our homes... Those ecosystems must be left untouched because they (are) part of the living Earth.
So what should we do? First, 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. Civilisation is energy-intensive and we cannot turn it off without crashing, so we need the security of a powered descent... We could grow enough to feed ourselves on the diet of the Second World War, but the notion that there is land to spare to grow biofuels, or be the site of wind farms, is ludicrous. We will do our best to survive, but sadly I cannot see the United States or the emerging economies of China and India cutting back in time, and they are the main source of emissions. The worst will happen and survivors will have to adapt to a hell of a climate.
Perhaps the saddest thing is that Gaia will lose as much or more than we do. Not only will wildlife and whole ecosystems go extinct, but in human civilisation the planet has a precious resource. We are not merely a disease; we are, through our intelligence and communication, the nervous system of the planet. Through us, Gaia has seen herself from space, and begins to know her place in the universe.
We should be the heart and mind of the Earth, not its malady. So let us be brave and cease thinking of human needs and rights alone, and see that we have harmed the living Earth and need to make our peace with Gaia. We must do it while we are still strong enough to negotiate, and not a broken rabble led by brutal war lords. Most of all, we should remember that we are a part of it, and it is indeed our home.
Lovelock is a scientist, and has focussed on global warming and on the damaging effect our "civilization" is having on the planet. He is not an economist and so his vision does not factor in the global economic collapse that is now under way, which will usefully restrain our raping of the planet, and cull our population to a more sustainable level. Likewise he is not a mystic, and so his vision does not include perception of the subtle rising tide of spirituality that is now counter-balancing the retreating gross tide of materialism, giving hope for us indeed becoming "the heart and mind of the Earth". Accordingly his vision is more dark and terminal than mine. Thank heaven for global economic and political collapse! The actions and behaviour of humanity are part of the natural systems of Gaia, and we will ourselves, unwittingly, bring about the changes that are required to renew our planetary home. There will be many breakages along the way, but "you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs".