Using Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis for climate understanding and prediction – after Lovelock threw climate under the bus

As you may recall, James Lovelock recently threw global warming/climate change under the bus. I guess these guys need to get out more. I post this press release solely for the entertainment value, because I can find little else in it. – Anthony

UMD Finding May Hold Key to Gaia Theory of Earth as Living Organism

Discovery ultimately could lead to better climate understanding and prediction

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  Is Earth really a sort of giant living organism as the Gaia hypothesis predicts? A new discovery made at the University of Maryland may provide a key to answering this question. This key of sulfur could allow scientists to unlock heretofore hidden interactions between ocean organisms, atmosphere, and land — interactions that might provide evidence supporting this famous theory.

The Gaia hypothesis — first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s — holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.

One of the early predictions of this hypothesis was that there should be a sulfur compound made by organisms in the oceans that was stable enough against oxidation in water to allow its transfer to the air. Either the sulfur compound itself, or its atmospheric oxidation product, would have to return sulfur from the sea to the land surfaces. The most likely candidate for this role was deemed to be dimethylsulfide.

Newly published work done at the University of Maryland by first author Harry Oduro, together with UMD geochemist James Farquhar and marine biologist Kathryn Van Alstyne of Western Washington University, provides a tool for tracing and measuring the movement of sulfur through ocean organisms, the atmosphere and the land in ways that may help prove or disprove the controversial Gaia theory. Their study appears in this week’s Online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

According to Oduro and his colleagues, this work presents the first direct measurements of the isotopic composition of dimethylsulfide and of its precursor dimethylsulfoniopropionate. These measurements reveal differences in the isotope ratios of these two sulfur compounds that are produced by macroalga and phytoplankton. These measurements (1) are linked to the compounds’ metabolism by these ocean organisms and (2) carry implications for tracking dimethylsulfide emissions from the ocean to the atmosphere.

Sulfur, the tenth most abundant element in the universe, is part of many inorganic and organic compounds. Sulfur cycles sulfur through the land, atmosphere and living things and plays critical roles in both climate and in the health of organisms and ecosystems.

“Dimethylsulfide emissions play a role in climate regulation through transformation to aerosols that are thought to influence the earth’s radiation balance,” says Oduro, who conducted the research while completing a Ph.D. in geology & earth system sciences at Maryland and now is a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “We show that differences in isotopic composition of dimethylsulfide may vary in ways that will help us to refine estimates of its emission into the atmosphere and of its cycling in the oceans.”

As with many other chemical elements, sulfur consists of different isotopes. All isotopes of an element are characterized by having the same number of electrons and protons but different numbers of neutrons. Therefore, isotopes of an element are characterized by identical chemical properties, but different mass and nuclear properties. As a result, it can be possible for scientists to use unique combinations of an element’s radioactive isotopes as isotopic signatures through which compounds with that element can be traced.

“What Harry did in this research was to devise a way to isolate and measure the sulfur isotopic composition of these two sulfur compounds,” says Farquhar, a professor in the University of Maryland’s department of geology. “This was a very difficult measurement to do right, and his measurements revealed an unexpected variability in an isotopic signal that appears to be related to the way the sulfur is metabolized.

“Harry’s work establishes that we should expect to see variability in the sulfur isotope signatures of these compounds in the oceans under different environmental conditions and for different organisms.  I think this will ultimately be very important for using isotopes to trace the cycling of these compounds in the surface oceans as well as the flux of dimethylsulfide to the atmosphere. The ability to do this could help us answer important climate questions, and ultimately better predict climate changes. And it may even help us to better trace connections between dimethylsulfide emissions and sulfate aerosols, ultimately testing a coupling in the Gaia hypothesis,” Farquhar says.

Media Contacts:
James Farquhar
Professor
Department of Geology
University of Maryland
(301) 405-5043
jfarquha@essic.umd.edu

Harry Oduro
Postdoctoral Fellow
MIT
(617)-324-3946
Hoduro@mit.edu

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66 Responses to Using Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis for climate understanding and prediction – after Lovelock threw climate under the bus

  1. Brian H says:

    Brimstone! What a hellish hypothesis!

    :)

  2. DirkH says:

    “The Gaia hypothesis — first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s — holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.”

    I don’t know whether the “essentially sentient” comes from Lovelock or from the press release writer, but I doubt that the thermostats in my rooms are sentient. At least they seem to be incapable of making tools.

  3. polistra says:

    If they truly use Lovelock’s original idea, they may begin to find valid theories. I doubt they’re capable of it, though.

    The organic Gaea (like all living things) functions by an infinite number of decoupled NEGATIVE feedback loops. The Carbon Cult’s false idea of Nature is tightly coupled (“global average temperature”) and relies on POSITIVE feedbacks.

    I’ve found it highly satisfying to watch the real living Gaea killing the false god Gaia. The false god and her apocalyptic cult followers have bankrupted the countries where they rule, leaving those countries with no spare money to pursue religious nonsense. Real homeostasis, real Nature.

  4. Neil Jones says:

    “a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.” If they really believed that then they would leaves things to fix themselves not try and tax it out of existence.

  5. View from the Solent says:

    “Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.”

    Animism.
    My kitchen oven has a self-regulating system to maintain a nearly constant temperature. So that makes it sentient then?

  6. Stuck-Record says:

    How can they have discovered something new about the climate? Surely the science is settled.
    /sarc

  7. Dodgy Geezer says:

    “The Gaia hypothesis — first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s — holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.”

    I didn’t think that ‘sentient’ was part of the hypothesis!

    To understand that all these processes are part of a complex self-regulating system is a very useful insight. Evolution is a similar complex system, and that’s often ‘anthropomorphised’, with people saying things like “fish grew legs so that they could walk on the land’. But these are just shorthand ways of expressing a complex process – I don’t think anyone really believes that these complex self-regulating stable processes are actually self-directed, as this set of wording implies…

  8. Alan the Brit says:

    Then again it might not! ;-) Are we not just a tad lucky to live on the third lump of rock from the Sun, be at just the right radius in our eliptical orbit to receive sufficient warmth, have received enough bombardment from ice bearing comets (possiby bearing interstella bacteria & microbes), received enough volcanic activity & crust formation creating techtonic plates, that all went together to produce a primordial soup to create life on Earth? Then again the hand of God may have had an effect, but yet again that’s one for the theologians to debate! Now, where’s my video of “1,000,000BC” gone?

  9. Steve Keohane says:

    Harry’s work establishes that we should expect to see variability in the sulfur isotope signatures of these compounds in the oceans under different environmental conditions and for different organisms.
    No one has seen this yet in sediments to use as a proxy? Seems like it would have been relatively easy to confirm if this is real.

  10. M Courtney says:

    “The Gaia hypothesis — first articulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the 1970s — holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.”

    I don’t think they know what “sentient” means.

  11. Dagfinn says:

    It’s simple and confusing. If the earth is like a (higher) living organism, as Lovelock suggests, it should maintain a constant temperature. So it doesn’t really support the idea of strong positive feedbacks and runaway warming.

  12. James Allison says:

    Perhaps Farquhar learnt about natural sulphur emmisions from Shrek?

  13. Curiousgeorge says:

    If one is going to buy the Gaia hypothesis for this planet, then it would also have to be applied to the Cosmos generally, since the Earth does not exist in isolation from the rest of the Universe. Might as well just take the next step backwards into various religious beliefs and creation myths and be done with it. [shaking head, rolling eyes]

  14. First dino gas, now Sulphur emissions-is there a link? /Sarc

  15. Golden says:

    Since Lovelock frequently makes the news, I’ve decided to read The Ages of Gaia to see what it was about. Lovelock is a biologist and here’s his observations about some of the top Biologists that he worked with at Nasa in the 1960s:

    From the beginning to the end, the Martian life-detection experiments had a marked air of unreality. Let me illustrate this with a fable. Dr. X, an eminent biologist, showed me his Martian life detector; a cubical cage of stainless steel, beautifully constructed, with sides about one centimeter long. When I asked him how it worked, he replied, “It’s a flea trap. Fleas are attracted to the bait inside, hop in, and cannot escape.” I then asked how he could be sure that there are fleas on Mars; his response was, “Mars is the greatest desert in the Solar System – a planet full of desert. Wherever there are deserts there are camels, and there is no animal with as many fleas as a camel. On Mars my detector will not fail to find life.”

    But is Lovelock’s thinking much beyond that? Here are some of his other remarks:

    Those bacteria have been with Gaia for nearly four thousand million years, and they still live all over the Earth in muds, sediments, and intestines – wherever they can keep away from the deadly poison – oxygen.

    I say that only by pollution do we survive. We animals pollute the air with carbon dioxide, and the vegetation pollutes it with oxygen. The pollution of one is the meat of the other. Gaia is more subtle, and, at least until humans appeared, polluted this region of the Solar System with no more than the gentle warmth of infrared radiation.

    I have lots to say but will keep my remarks to myself. I will only say that I’m glad biologists weren’t the ones to build the spaceship. Can’t wait for the EPA to declare oxygen a pollutant.

  16. agwnot says:

    “…ultimately testing a coupling in the Gaia hypothesis,” Farquhar says.”

    New Testament, 2nd Peter, 3:4; “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

    Since carbon cycles through animals, plants, soil, geologic formations, the oceans and the atmosphere, then should not man-made CO2 emissions be considered equivalent to speeding the coming of Gaia’s big butt or whatever?

    New Testament, 2nd Peter, 3:12; “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”

    Coincidence of science and religion commingling? Nah, of course not! HA!

  17. higley7 says:

    1) Just because sulfur was part of the Gaia Hypothesis construct does not come close to confirming any presence as an organism. A sulfur cycle in the biosphere is expected, even in absence of a metabolism.

    2) Organisms as well as natural physical processes famously can select isotopes, being able to discriminate between them. This means that as an organism uses a sulfur compound, the organism will have an isotopes signature composition and the source will also take on a different composition. There will always be two changes occurring. When an entity does its selecting, the picture becomes much more complicated. It is going to be difficult to sort this out, but whatever they find, it is unlikely to have any aspect of organismal processes—there are too many physical processes involved.

  18. RichieP says:

    Sentient system …. and there are fairies at the bottom of my garden too.

  19. Craig Goodrich says:

    The ability to do this could help us answer important climate questions, and ultimately better predict climate changes. And it may even help us to better trace connections between dimethylsulfide emissions and sulfate aerosols, ultimately testing a coupling in the Gaia hypothesis,” Farquhar says.

    Yes, indeed, and it “may even” order you a mushroom pizza next weekend.

    OK, wild speculation has its place, I suppose, and press releases are hardly known for their rigor in any field, but still…

  20. LeeHarvey says:

    Wow… so living things alter their environment, and other living things respond to changes in their environment, ad infinitum.

    It’s totally like having a pony tail with an ethernet port on the end of it that I can plug into my horse or giant bird.

  21. Gary Pearse says:

    “— holds that Earth’s physical and biological processes are inextricably connected to form a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.”

    Okay, self-regulating, I can buy that. Sentient, Hmmm …. could a thermostat be described as sentient? I suppose so. The delusional and grandiose are the end game of a failed grand hypothesis.

  22. Pamela Gray says:

    DirkH said, “I don’t know whether the “essentially sentient” comes from Lovelock or from the press release writer, but I doubt that the thermostats in my rooms are sentient. At least they seem to be incapable of making tools.”

    Actually, temperature sensors appear quite capable of making tools. They appear to have made Hansen, Gavin, the smut book author, etc, etc, etc.

  23. Jer0me says:

    Ever since I heard of the theory at about 13 years of age (a long time ago now), I was smitten with it. After all, how much does a single cell of our body know about our 9 to 5 job, taxes and religion? Why could all living things not be a part of some much larger ‘organism’ that has knowledge of things so far beyond our ken as to be as impossible for us to understand as it is for a skin cell to understand fiscal policy.

    Discussing sulphur in this context in order to try to understand what this higher organism may be is like two skin cells discussing osmosis in order to understand that fiscal policy. Utterly useless.

    I rest my case, with no verdict, but still plenty of intellectual fodder for the wee hours when the whisky and the hookah run low….

  24. Ric Werme says:

    “Dimethylsulfide emissions play a role in climate regulation through transformation to aerosols that are thought to influence the earth’s radiation balance,” says Oduro,

    Well, no complaint about that, but it would have been nice if he included a references to muons and low level maritime clouds. Does this mean we have to consider Svensmark to be a leading proponent of the Gaia Hypothesis?

  25. Ric Werme says:

    Sentient, heh? I’ll never look at a threatening thunderstorm the same way again. It’s out to get me. Augh – there are Tstrms in the forecast for this afternoon. Maybe I’ll join the dog under the sofa.

  26. wws says:

    Living systems reproduce beings of like kind. Complex systems are fascinating, but they do not reproduce themselves. And “reproduction” does not apply to the ability of a dog to support the ticks living on its back.

    if the Earth were about to open up and spit out a New Earth (say, from Easter Island, the Navel of the World) then I would be open to this Gaia talk. Till then, it’s all just high tech shamanism with Lovelock posing as head Witch Doctor, casting bones beside the fire and forecasting our future from them.

  27. Mydogsgotnonose says:

    Phytoplankton blooms are intimately connected with old ice containing iron nutrient. The DMS controls regional climate.

    Thus it causes the end of ice ages, stabilises the interglacial and led to the post 1990 Arctic melting, now reversing. much of the Northern hemisphere warming from the latter was confused with AGW.

  28. MarkW says:

    I must admit that it’s been many years since I read the book, but I could have sworn that the proposition was merely that the earth formed a self-regulating system. Nothing more. There was no claim that the whole thing was alive, much less sentient.

  29. 01wmarsh says:

    “Dimethylsulfide emissions play a role in climate regulation through transformation to aerosols that are thought to influence the earth’s radiation balance,”

    Oh, and here I was thinking all this time that Dimethylsulfide influenced earth’s radiation balance by being the key ingredient in the process that provides ‘seed’ particles for cloud formation. The more dimethylsulfide, the more ‘seed’ particles, the more clouds. I also thought that this relationship was proven by Dr Svensmark and by CERN’s “CLOUD” experiment.

  30. Urederra says:

    Oh, Somebody had finally discovered Gaia´s life cycle? Is she pregnant? Are we having baby Earths?

    /sarc

    Reproduction is the fundamental quality of all living beings, If you cannot demostrate that Gaia can produce offsprings, you cannot say it is alive.

  31. Mydogsgotnonose says:

    The CCN also control the kinetics of cloud droplet coarsening.

  32. Gary Hladik says:

    Hmmm. Since Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking are all “part” of Gaia, then in a sense I suppose Gaia is sentient.

    Oh, wait…Al Gore, James Hansen, Michael Mann…

    Never mind. :-)

  33. Gary Hladik says:

    Urederra says (May 16, 2012 at 7:25 am): “Reproduction is the fundamental quality of all living beings, If you cannot demostrate that Gaia can produce offsprings, you cannot say it is alive.”

    Gaia’s trying. So far she has produced one species that may eventually “Gaia-form” and colonize other planets.

  34. oeman50 says:

    “LeeHarvey says:
    May 16, 2012 at 5:41 am
    Wow… so living things alter their environment, and other living things respond to changes in their environment, ad infinitum.

    It’s totally like having a pony tail with an ethernet port on the end of it that I can plug into my horse or giant bird.”

    Beat me to it Lee, I am turning blue with envy.

  35. Stephen Wilde says:

    Transcendental Ranting ?

  36. ferd berple says:

    The ability of life (micro-organisms) to regulate the climate explains why the earth’s temperature has remained within 1.5% of current temperatures for the past 600 million years. Climate science and the IPCC believes we must maintain the earth’s temperatures to within 0.67% or catastrophic climate change will result. Gaia obviously doesn’t believe this, because Gaia is satisfied with 1.5%.

    The IPCC models completely ignore the role of life in climate – yet they claim their aim is to protect life. They ignore Gaia and the 1.5% limit on temperature, and try and impose their own artificial 0.67% limit. To ignore the lessons of Gaia speaks of ignorance and contempt for Gaia.

    How can you protect what you don’t understand? Gaia sets the temperature variability at 1/5% for a reason, or it would not exists. We simply have not discovered the reason.

    Like the wildlife managers in Yellowstone a century ago that removed the wolves, all too often the “experts” end up doing more harm than good through their arrogance and ignorance. Perhaps natural temperature variability serves a role similar to wolves. Perhaps by limiting temperature to 0.67% variability in opposition to Gaia’s 1.5% variability, we will again make the same mistake, this time on a global scale.

    Scientists are like priests, they claim to speak for Gaia. These claims are false. No one speaks for Gaia.

  37. Doubting Rich says:

    If there was no supply of sulphur on land, life that required sulphur would not have evolved on land. Nothing to do with any loopy Gaian ideas, just seeing the direction of cause and effect.

  38. G. Karst says:

    I have no objection to the Gaia “hypothesis” as a metaphor. As a metaphor it can be useful in describing the Earth’s interactions. I do not think “hypothesis” or “theory” is the correct usage of these words. As a religious concept… well… I guess people are free to worship whatever they want. Seems somewhat as idol worship but hey… pray to whomever you want. GK

  39. pochas says:

    Perhaps with the internet Gaia has achieved sentience. Now we’ll find out if it can learn anything.

  40. “Sulfur cycles sulfur through the land, atmosphere and living things and plays critical roles in both climate and in the health of organisms and ecosystems.”

    I think they overlooked sentient sulfur. And here I thought it was the fairies in the bottom of RichieP’s garden. Note that sulfur, while busy cycling itself, takes care of climate FIRST, then goes on to contribute to that rotten-egg smell emanting from that fetid swamp, er, ecosystem.

  41. tadchem says:

    Dimethylsulfide and its relative methyl disulfide are the main odiferous chemicals in human feces. They are produced in the anaerobic metabolism of sulfur-bearing amino acids. If the oceans had significant levels of DMS, you would know it. It would smell like ‘Gaia.’

  42. mkelly says:

    I think Stanislaw Lem wrote a science fiction book about a living planet prior to the ’70′s.

  43. Dave Baker says:

    Sentient? Perhaps the copywriters have been reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘When The World Screamed’. For those who don’t know the book, Prof Challenger ( of ‘The Lost World’ fame) is convinced that the Earth is sentient. He drills down to the mantle to alert it to Man’s existence, at which point…… well, I don’t want to spoil the story

  44. Gail Combs says:

    “a self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.”

    Well then obviously humans have been place on Mother EARTH to recycle the carbon locked into coal and oil back into the carbon cycle so Mother earth’s plants do not die from starvation.

  45. Matthew R Marler says:

    self-regulating, essentially sentient, system.

    Obviously I am piling on here, but have they really hypothesized that they know what the essence of sentience is? Is it a “self-organizing high-dimensional nonlinear dissipative system with many independent or loosely interrelated negative feedback loops”?

  46. commieBob says:

    They’re using isotopes to determine where chemicals came from. IMHO, it’s a dangerous thing to do. I can’t find it but there was a post here, not that long ago, which showed that isotopes aren’t that reliable for guessing which sources supplied what proportion of the CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Gaia could be sentient by some definitions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentient_beings_(Buddhism)

    all beings (including plant life and even inanimate objects or entities considered “spiritual” or “metaphysical” by conventional Western thought) are or may be considered sentient beings.

  47. Hoser says:

    Urederra says:
    May 16, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Humans are building the seed packages to carry Earth life elsewhere. Yes, Earth is alive, although not sentient. Life will do whatever it can to survive and expand into new places wherever possible. That’s why I don’t gripe too much about us humans using the stored energy of Earth in such a short time. We are carrying out a role similar to apples on apple trees; apples contain quite a bit of stored energy produced by the tree. Our consumption of resources will all be worthwhile if we establish life elsewhere, and we should start with Mars. It is our duty to make sure the opportunitywe have now to establish life elsewhere is not wasted. We are the same as the first fish and plants leaving the sea and trying to establish a foothold on land. Our new environment is space, and other planets. It may be tens of millions of years before another species has a similar chance, if the chance ever comes again. I strongly object to the idea we should prevent Earth organisms from making the trip to Mars. And taking the long view, we should be looking for ways to visit other stars before the year 3000.

  48. Curiousgeorge says:

    @Hoser says:
    May 16, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Urederra says:
    May 16, 2012 at 7:25 am

    And taking the long view, we should be looking for ways to visit other stars before the year 3000.
    ************************************************************************
    Just picking nits here, but I wonder if Tommy Tyrannosaurus might have said the same thing? They had a lot more evolutionary time than humans have so far, and didn’t seem to make it. Or did they? Hmmm? :-)

    By year 3000 ( who’s calender? ) homo whatever may very well be back to a couple thousand mating couples living in various caves. Crystal balls are rarely right. ;)

  49. Mark Bofill says:

    You know, I’ve written some pretty darn slick software that makes complicated, correct decisions on a lot of variables. I know others have written stuff that passes the Turing test. We all know about Deep Blue and Kasparov. Still, nobody claims computers are sentient.
    Why exactly am I supposed to take the notion of a ‘sentient earth super-entity’ seriously? I know others have already harped on this, but I find it a particularly offensive example of the fairy tale world these people live in, that we can merely speculate poetically about ‘Gaia’ and be taken seriously, but the evil artificial machines couldn’t possibly ever exhibit intelligence.

  50. Mr Lynn says:

    Dave Baker says:
    May 16, 2012 at 8:46 am
    Sentient? Perhaps the copywriters have been reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘When The World Screamed’. For those who don’t know the book, Prof Challenger ( of ‘The Lost World’ fame) is convinced that the Earth is sentient. He drills down to the mantle to alert it to Man’s existence, at which point…… well, I don’t want to spoil the story

    Cf. also Nelson S. Bond, “And Lo! The Bird”:
    http://tinyurl.com/2bka5qg

    /Mr Lynn

  51. Javier says:

    Call me whatever you want, but I’m upset that this (the earth being alive) is a seriously debated topic. Sentient and all those other wishy washy words aside, why do some people call the planet Mother earth? If people would take off their blinders of sticking to their little spheres of study, the link between the connection of the micro-verse and Macro-verse is pretty simple, and easy to see. Are your nails alive? Is your hair alive? Is your saliva alive? Do microscopic things exist on, in, and around our bodies?
    Now are rocks alive? Are plants alive? Are the oceans alive? With respect to the earths size, would you say that microscopic things live in, on, and around it? The planets are called celestial bodies. They emit radiation, like our own bodies emit radiation, regardless of the type. How about people step back every once and a while, and look at the big picture? Planets are strewn about the universe, some exhibit geologic activity, some of which when recorded sound rhythmic. Where else are rhythmic sound patterns heard? The human heart. We have mapped parts of the brain, neural pathways, and we have also mapped parts of the visible universe, I know you’ve seen the pictures of the galaxy maps and even some of those “dark energy” maps or what have you. Why is it so hard to see what is right in front of your eyes?! “Oh but there’s no scientific proof, we don’t have the numbers to crunch…” and blah blah blah, since I was little and started figuring out what people were saying about scientific topics before they finished I realized something. It’s not about the numbers, its about the fact that so many people are upset they can’t figure out these things and when someone makes it simple, they are stupid and uneducated, ignoramuses, who don’t know anything about anything and need to shut up. For the sake of humanity I hope people will stop being so self absorbed and actually use science and knowledge instead of trying to prove someone else who is smarter than them wrong or stupid. SO many egotistical, megalomaniacle, fartmunches around drag down the potential of us all.

  52. TimiBoy says:

    With the amount of sulphur my bum emits, you’d think it was sentient. Then again, maybe it is…

    [Moderator's Suggestion: A change in diet may help. In the mean time, can we return this thread to a higher class of comment? -REP]

  53. Logan in AZ says:

    As usual, there is no mention of the extensive work done by the Idso group at CO2science. They have a section on dimethylsulfide:
    http://www.co2science.org/subject/d/dms.php
    which explains why the topic is mostly ignored — DMS is a strong negative feedback factor that stabilizes the world climate. That aspect, and the basic ignorance about biological topics evident in the AGW cabal, means that DMS will contiue to be an obscure idea.

    WUWT should invite an essay by the Idso group on this and certain other topics they have reviewed, such as the worldwide extent of the MWP.

  54. agwnot says:

    Javier, really? You’re just kidding, right?

  55. Mr Lynn says:

    TimiBoy says:
    May 16, 2012 at 1:13 pm
    With the amount of sulphur my bum emits, you’d think it was sentient. Then again, maybe it is…

    [Moderator's Suggestion: A change in diet may help. In the mean time, can we return this thread to a higher class of comment? -REP]

    A reasonable chastisement from REP, but on the other hand, giving the science-fiction notion that the Earth as a whole is some kind of sentient organism the status of ‘hypothesis’ (how would you falsify it?), and suggesting that the ubiquity of sulfur compounds is evidence for it, is so ludicrous as to justify a bit of scatological humor. From where else would Lovelock, et al. have pulled it?

    /Mr Lynn

  56. Panama says:

    One of the early predictions of this hypothesis was that there should be a sulfur compound made by organisms in the oceans that was stable enough against oxidation in water to allow its transfer to the air. Either the sulfur compound itself, or its atmospheric oxidation product, would have to return sulfur from the sea to the land surfaces. The most likely candidate for this role was deemed to be dimethylsulfide.

  57. Mike M says:

    If AGW theorists had included “the Sun will rise in the east tomorrow” to the rest of their theory, (after all, how can there be warming without the Sun?), AGW would have been irrefutable and we’d be reporting our carbon debits to the IRS by now.

    I don’t mind pagans inventing their little pagan gods but I DO mind when they start conjuring up what their gods are ‘thinking’ and that ‘thinking’ is that I am to blame for ‘X’ because I failed to OBEY and make a sacrifice to them.

  58. Shevva says:

    The only way I see anyone answering this question is where did life on Earth come from? did Gaia produce perfect conditions for us to flourish? did a random chance of Earths tilt producing the seasons help life flourish? did the collision that caused the Earths tilt also bring life with it? or did an Alien race wipe out the dinosaurs to make room for the shark fin soup (Human Horn) of the galaxy?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

  59. wermet says:

    Urederra says: May 16, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Reproduction is the fundamental quality of all living beings, If you cannot demostrate that Gaia can produce offsprings, you cannot say it is alive.

    Let’s examine your statement first with a practical example: the lowly farm animal known as a mule. Is this animal alive? It eats, sleeps, moves, is used for labor by man, will defend itself when threatened, and is descended (born) from other living creatures. So from those attributes, I would judge it to be alive.

    However, the mule is a sterile animal and cannot reproduce itself. It is the offspring of a donkey and a horse. So by your limited definition of life, the mule is not alive.

    So what is the truth? I from first-hand experience involving actual farm animals, I would have to judge the mule as alive, even though it fails one of your conditions. Their are many other types of sterile animal hybrids including ligers, tigons, and zebroids (zebra-horse hybrid).

    Finally, let’s take this discussion just one step further, consider the birth of a human child with a specific birth defect – the inability to reproduce. The sexual organs are present, just incapable of generating sperm or ova. Is this being alive? (I’ll leave this example as an exercise to be completed by the student.)

    BTW, in the interest of full disclosure, I do not subscribe to Lovejoy’s Gaia Theory.

  60. Lady Life Grows says:

    Urederra says:
    May 16, 2012 at 7:25 am
    Oh, Somebody had finally discovered Gaia´s life cycle? Is she pregnant? Are we having baby Earths?

    /sarc

    Reproduction is the fundamental quality of all living beings, If you cannot demostrate that Gaia can produce offsprings, you cannot say it is alive.

    Oh, c’mon Urederra, it is downright common for the Earth to be described exactly that way when contemplating such prospects as the colonization of Mars.

  61. peeke says:

    Lovelock is absolutely the right person to turn to to look for global negative feedbacks. His idea is that the anorganic world lives in equilibrium with the biosphere. He set up an extremely simplified model for it, called Daisy World:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daisyworld

    I like his thinking, even when he predicted armageddon. Even if he’s wrong he is interesting, a bit like Fred Hoyle was.

  62. Myrrh says:

    Who really knows?
    Who will here proclaim it?
    Whence was it produced?
    Whence is this creation?
    The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe.
    Who then knows whence it has arisen?

    Whence this creation has arisen
    – perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not –
    the One who looks down on it,
    in the highest heaven, only He knows
    or perhaps He does not know.

    http://vinaire.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/the-creation-hymn-of-rig-veda/
    ——————————————————————————–

    The Rig Veda is our oldest continuous tradition with the concept of Earth as Mother and entropy rules here too, Lovelock’s version perhaps the final step in this disintegration to his gods as powerless victims of man.. For any interested a look here at the entropy through the Puranas of the original concepts of the Rig Veda: http://vedrig.blogspot.com/2007/09/knowledge-in-rig-veda.html

    “G.Gods in Rig Veda and Puranas
    1. A word about the connection between the Vedic gods and purāņic gods is appropriate here. In Rig Veda a god is neither less nor more than the other is. In the Veda, all the Gods are pure and harmonious with no rivalry, jealousy and such other flaws. All of them are equal, bereft of impurities, endowed with auspicious qualities and all represent Truth. Each Vedic god has a distinct power and personality, but he or she also carries the presence of the Supreme, “That one.” All the Vedic gods harmoniously work together in providing the divine inspiration to the individual .The Rig Vedic gods are kind and compassionate. They fulfill the desires and aspirations of the devotees.

    2. At a much later period, the purāņās tried to convey the esoteric truths of the Veda in a popular form. However, in that attempt the qualities of the Vedic gods were partially humanized and endowed with human virtues/flaws. Thus in the purāņās, the various Gods work together sometimes, but also quarrel with one another. They are bitten by jealousy, envy, greed, arrogance, etc.”

    As for “sentient”, having sense perception, I’m very much taken with the theory in biology that species diversification is being driven by the desires of plants, which may well be the reason we’re fighting back to stop this demonisation of carbon dioxide…

  63. Myrrh says:

    Aggh. Sorry, that should be: “that animal species diversification is being driven by the desires of plants”

  64. Hoser says:

    Javier says:
    May 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Uh, you don’t think plants are alive? The thing to consider is the effect of life on the planet, changing its chemistry, and the effect of the planet on life. Nobody believes rocks are alive, but the rocks are part of the cycles that maintain life. The Earth magnetic field protects us from radiation. The carbon cycle includes subduction of marine sediments where water and organic matter are returned to the surface via volcanism. Clearly, the Earth itself is a key element in supporting life. It is reasonable to view the entire biosphere and the Earth as a living entity. Is the CaPO4 in your bones alive? No, but it’s easier to think of that material as part of your living self. Same goes for hair, nails, and outer skin layers. So where do we draw the line? Why bother to draw a line? In fact, more explicitly regarding the Sun as an essential part of our living system would help people think about the energy flow that powers life on Earth.

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