A rather unexpected story to appear in the mainstream press. From NBC news.
James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.
Lovelock, 92, is writing a new book in which he will say climate change is still happening, but not as quickly as he once feared.
He previously painted some of the direst visions of the effects of climate change. In 2006, in an article in the U.K.’s Independent newspaper, he wrote that “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.”
This is one of the bigger defections or walk-backs of pop scientists to date.
“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,” Lovelock said.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
The article makes no attempt to discredit or attack Lovelock. Which is quite remarkable for a mainstream news article these days.
In 2007, Time magazine named Lovelock as one of 13 leaders and visionaries in an article on “Heroes of the Environment,” which also included Gore, Mikhail Gorbachev and Robert Redford.
“Jim Lovelock has no university, no research institute, no students. His almost unparalleled influence in environmental science is based instead on a particular way of seeing things,” Oliver Morton, of the journal Nature wrote in Time. “Humble, stubborn, charming, visionary, proud and generous, his ideas about Gaia have started a change in the conception of biology that may serve as a vital complement to the revolution that brought us the structures of DNA and proteins and the genetic code.”
All in all a rather balanced article. Perhaps part of the beginning of the Great Walk Back.
In the interview, Lovelock said he would not take back a word of his seminal work “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth,” published in 1979.
But of “Revenge of Gaia,” published in 2006, he said he had gone too far in describing what the warming Earth would see over the next century.
“I would be a little more cautious — but then that would have spoilt the book,” he quipped.