Essay by Eric Worrall
James Lovelock, creator of Gaia hypothesis, dies on 103rd birthday
The scientist was best known for his theory that the Earth is a self-regulating community of organisms
Wed 27 Jul 2022 23.40 AEST
James Lovelock, the creator of the Gaia hypothesis, has died on his 103rd birthday. The climate scientist died at home on Tuesday surrounded by loved ones, his family said.
Jonathan Watts, the Guardian’s global environment editor, who knew Lovelock and has been working on a biography about him, said: “The news is extremely sad, but what a life and what a legacy. Until very recently he was in good health and had a remarkable memory for events that happened almost a century ago. He was smart, funny and happy to share intimate details from his extraordinary life.
“It was thrilling to talk to one of the greatest minds Britain has ever produced. Here was a man who helped to shape many of the most important scientific events of the 20th century – Nasa’s search for life on Mars, growing awareness of the climate risks posed by fossil fuels, the debate over ozone-depleting chemicals in the stratosphere and the dangers of industrial pollution – as well as his work for the British secret services.”
Lovelock spent his life advocating for climate measures, starting decades before many others started to take notice of the crisis. By the time he died he did not believe there was hope of avoiding some of the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
Lovelock was passionate about, and committed to, his work as he felt it imperative to warn humanity of the incoming climate catastrophe. He said in a lecture in 2011 that he had no plans for a comfortable retirement because of this.
“My main reason for not relaxing into contented retirement is that like most of you I am deeply concerned about the probability of massively harmful climate change and the need to do something about it now,” Lovelock said.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/27/james-lovelock-creator-of-gaia-hypothesis-dies-on-103rd-birthday
In 2012 Lovelock appeared to have recanted some of his climate alarmism. But in 2014, Lovelock gave an interview to The Guardian which seemed pretty alarmist.
Then in 2016 Lovelock appears to have changed his mind again, and gave the following Guardian interview.
What has changed dramatically, however, is his position on climate change. He now says: “Anyone who tries to predict more than five to 10 years is a bit of an idiot, because so many things can change unexpectedly.” But isn’t that exactly what he did last time we met? “I know,” he grins teasingly. “But I’ve grown up a bit since then.”
Lovelock now believes that “CO2 is going up, but nowhere near as fast as they thought it would. The computer models just weren’t reliable. In fact,” he goes on breezily, “I’m not sure the whole thing isn’t crazy, this climate change. You’ve only got to look at Singapore. It’s two-and-a-half times higher than the worst-case scenario for climate change, and it’s one of the most desirable cities in the world to live in.”
But there is a third explanation for why he has shifted his position again, and nowadays feels “laid back about climate change”. All things being equal – “and it’s only got to take one sizable volcano to erupt and all the models, everything else, is right off the board”
Lovelock maintains that, unlike most environmentalists, he is a rigorous empiricist, but it is manifestly clear that he enjoys maddening the green movement. “Well, it’s a religion, really, you see. It’s totally unscientific.”
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/30/james-lovelock-interview-by-end-of-century-robots-will-have-taken-over
Maybe James Lovelock changed his mind again after the interview above, just as he appeared to change his mind about climate change in 2012, back to alarmism in 2014, then skeptical again in 2016 (above). If anyone finds a post September 2016 reference to Lovelock changing his mind again, or any material which can shed more light on why Lovelock kept changing his mind, please post it in comments.
In my opinion The Guardian should not ignore interviews and public statements which contradict the one sided narrative they appear to have presented to their readers, especially when writing about someone who is no longer able to correct mistakes.
I urge The Guardian to update their obituary, to respect James Lovelock’s legacy by providing their readers with a more nuanced description of a complicated man who was unequivocally one of the giants of the green movement.